Neighborhood Spotlight: Murray Hill
I’ve experienced a lot of transitions in the last few years, the most recent of which has been a move to a neighborhood I never envisioned living in: Murray Hill. In my mind, it was the spot that recent frat boy graduates settled in for reasonable rents with roommates and to hit up Joshua Tree at happy hour and on the weekends. While those few blocks of fratty degeneracy definitely still exist along 3rd Avenue, I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised by the rest of the area.
“It” neighborhood it is not but what Murray Hill lacks in local charm it makes up for in convenience: grocery stores, nail salons, bodegas, bars/pubs and affordable restaurants abound (with a few standouts mixed in there). At the end of the day, convenience was really the main reason for our move. Vivi’s school is within short walking distance of our apartment and we’re super close to the Midtown Tunnel, which gets us to our home out east that much faster.
Commonly used boundaries for Murray Hill are East 34th Street (although some say as far south as 27th Street) to East 42nd Street and Madison Avenue to the East River. In colonial times, a Pennsylvania Quaker importer named Robert Murray and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, bought land that covered what is now Madison to Lexington Avenues and 33rd to 39th Streets, which became known as Murray Hill as their home was built on a hill (that no longer exists) on Park Ave and 36th Street.
The area is now a mix of lovely townhouses on side streets and larger buildings on the avenues. The Sniffen Court Historic District on East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues is a mews where beautiful carriage houses are now homes. Most of the new construction is between Third and First Avenues. The Lindley hit the market in September 2017 and many condo units are currently in contract. Several new rental buildings have also gone up around Third Avenue and 39th Street, such as House39. The American Copper Building at 626 First Avenue (two copper towers connected by a skybridge, kind of in the shape of a crooked H) is also among the brand new, amenity heavy rental developments in the neighborhood. In a few years, there will also be rentals and condos available at 685 First Avenue, a 500+ unit building designed by “starchitect” Richard Meier.
Murray Hill is still relatively affordable compared to neighborhoods like Tribeca or Soho and due to the overall convenience of the neighborhood, has increasingly appealed to empty nesters and young families alike. The 4/5/6 runs along Park Avenue and the 7 train along 42nd Street. Grand Central is on the northernmost edge of the neighborhood, providing access to the Times Square shuttle as well as Metro North. There are express buses on 1st and 2nd Avenues along with the 34th Street ferry terminal which stops at Long Island City, Brooklyn, Wall Street and Governors Island.
Cultural institutions include the Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue and Scandinavia House on Park Avenue, which includes a children’s center. St. Vartan Park, which spans from First to Second Avenues, has playgrounds and basket ball and hand ball courts. Tudor City, which is often considered a separate neighborhood spanning from East 40th to East 43rd and off the street grid, features unique architecture and lovely, little shaded parks.