Despite Manhattan’s tiny landmass of just 23 square miles, New Yorkers have developed virtually endless ways to divide up the island. With monikers that sound more like futuristic texting lingo than neighborhood names (NoLita? FiDi? NoMad?), it’s no wonder NYC explorers might feel they need an annotated neighborhood guide. Beyond these nuanced neighborhood distinctions lies a more fundamental question: What counts as Uptown, Downtown, and Midtown in Manhattan? Let us explain.

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Uptown Manhattan & Upper Manhattan: What’s the Difference?

If you need a visual reference for the start of uptown, head to 59th Street, where you’ll find Columbus Circle traffic, abundant food carts, and the southern end of Central Park. “Uptown” generally means anything parallel to or north of Central Park. So, the Upper East Side and Upper West Side are both “Uptown” — above 59th Street — and to the east and west of the park, respectively. 

Yet while “Uptown” means north of 59th Street, Upper Manhattan means something else entirely. Neighborhoods north of Central Park, such as Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood, make up Upper Manhattan. Upper Manhattan starts at 110th Street at Central Park on the West Side and 97th or 98th Street on the East Side. In other words, where East and West Harlem begin. The best part, rental deals are plentiful in both Uptown and Upper Manhattan neighborhoods compared to areas further south.

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Midtown Manhattan: Where It Starts and Ends

Midtown is Manhattan’s bustling, concrete heart, full of skyscrapers, office buildings, and transit centers. But if you’re looking for a more precise descriptor, it’s roughly between 30th Street and 59th street. Midtown Manhattan houses many distinctive — and incredible — neighborhoods. For example, the bright lights of Times Square provide a completely different vibe than the prewar buildings and countless eateries of Hell’s Kitchen. Midtown East neighborhoods like Kips Bay and Murray Hill seamlessly blend historic landmarks like Grand Central Terminal with numerous sports bars. Also good to know: Midtown is home to the luxurious high-rises of Billionaire’s Row.

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Downtown Manhattan: Where It Starts and Ends

At StreetEasy, we consider Downtown Manhattan to be everything south of 30th Street. Of course, famous neighborhoods such as Tribeca, SoHo, and the West Village usually anchor Downtown Manhattan. These areas typically carry higher median asking prices and are home to numerous celebrities living in luxury apartments.

Where Is Lower Manhattan?

And while “Downtown” seems like it could encompass anything south of Midtown, most people refer to the southernmost part of the borough as “Lower Manhattan.” It includes neighborhoods like the Financial District, Two Bridges, and the Lower East Side.

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Uptown and Downtown Are Relative

If you find all this confusing, let us remind you that residents use “Uptown” and “Downtown” in directional terms too. Any time you’re heading north in Manhattan, you’re going uptown. Anytime you’re heading south, you’re heading downtown. So if you hear someone at 145th Street say they’re running “downtown” to 76th Street, don’t try to inform them that 76th Street is, in fact, uptown. 

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