Welcome to your Midtown Manhattan walking tour. This journey is brought to you by The Humane Space—an app that prompts curiosity and wonder within.
Throughout this tour, we’ll provide contemplation prompts, which will activate your senses and deepen the experience of being in these unique places. If you need to, please refer to the tour map above at any time. When you arrive at each new destination, use the pull-down menu on your tour screen to access the tour information for each location.
As always, be aware of your surroundings and make sure that you don’t stray into traffic, especially if you’re looking up at the beautiful architecture we’re about to show you.
We begin our tour at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on 5th Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets.
When you think of Midtown Manhattan, you may conjure the scenes and sounds of bustling Times Square, honking horns of yellow taxis, or glamorous storefronts lining Fifth Avenue. Midtown is all of that and more, but sometimes we forget to simply look up, or to pause and appreciate the lesser-known wonders that are often hidden in plain sight. This tour reveals a new side of some of Midtown’s greatest landmarks, interspersed with moments of unexpected respite and reflection.
Now, let’s turn our attention to this first stop, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral hardly needs an introduction. It is the largest Gothic Revival Catholic Cathedral in North America. Designed by James Renwick, the cathedral began construction in 1858 but was soon paused by the American Civil War. It was eventually completed in 1878.
The iconic cathedral measures 332 feet long with a maximum width of 174 feet at its transepts. Its spires rise nearly 330 feet. The interiors are clad in marble and feature extensive stained glass. The northern tower contains nineteen bells, and the church boasts two pipe organs.
St. Patrick’s has been renovated multiple times throughout the past century-plus. The most recent renovation, which began in 2012, was headed by Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects to bring it into the 21st century. The renovation efforts achieved a 29 percent reduction in annual energy use via 10 geothermal wells and new mechanical systems. Other strategic architectural interventions included the preservation and stabilization of original materials.
It’s easy to be awed by great architectural works like St. Patrick’s, so much so that you miss the small details.
Take a few minutes and scan the church for something small and specific that stands out–not only because of how it looks but for what its purpose is and especially, how it makes you feel.
Take a photo of the feature if you’re so inclined so that you can re-examine it in greater detail later. If you’re with someone else, discuss what you’ve each discovered.
Next, if you’re facing the front facade of St. Patrick’s, turn left to cross over 51st Street, heading toward 52nd Street along the luxury shopping mecca that is Fifth Avenue.
Be advised that Paley Park is closed on the weekends. If you want to skip it, use your tour map to navigate to St. Thomas Church, our fifth stop. Once you reach St. Thomas, select it from your tour screen. If you’re continuing to Paley Park, keep walking for two blocks to 53rd Street.
Cross over to the far side of 53rd and turn right—you’ll see a subway station entrance there. As you walk along 53rd Street, take in the staccato and bass sounds of the city: the honk of horns, the roar of bus engines, and the clank of metal planks as cars drive over them. And then notice how these sounds begin to fade away as you ascend the set of steps that rise to your left just past 1 East 53rd Street.
Now, on your tour screen, select Paley Park from the pull-down menu when you’re ready to begin reading about this unique urban respite.