New York does make sense! Well, sometimes. Any town, village or city offers clues that enable us to make sense of that place. The bend in a road, shape of a building or site of a church can say something of what we once were, and have become. 

Why are the luxury apartment houses and fancy department stores along the middle of the island, while buildings generally get older as you head south? What makes some districts (Chelsea is a good example) so relaxed and quiet when others are chaotic and vital? And if land in New York is so valuable (witness the skyscrapers jammed in all over), then what explains the presence of that big park above 59th Street? 

In Manhattan, habits of behavior and development go a long way in explaining New York’s place in the U.S. and the world. This simple walk through midtown tells what is where and why.


Meeting Place: Northwest corner 40th Street and 5th Ave.  Nearest subway 4, 5, 6, 7, S trains to Grand Central/42nd Street.

Deciphering Manhattan
Midtown Manhattan
for Reading Partners
Peter L.
FROM New York, NY

Making sense of New York City!



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about Peter L.

Peter L.

New York, NY

Since 1987 I have indulged my passion for New York by giving classes, lectures and tours of its history. My focus is to go beyond the usual who-what-where-when and into the why and how – illustrated, for example, by a simple bend in a road, shape of a building or site of a church. Among those that have sponsored my tours are the Museum of Natural History and New York University, not to mention groups of all kinds around the world. I am a registered New York City tour guide, a member of the bar, and the author of a coming book on the ties between the history of New York and that of baseball.