Manhattan: Summer Streets – Central Park down Park Ave. to the Brooklyn Bridge

Since 2008, New York City has created a great NYC opportunity to run/walk/bike/skate/mambo down a significant length of Park Ave/4th Ave/Lafayette Ave without any car or truck traffic to contend with.

It’s called Summer Streets and I hope the city has the foresight to make this one of the great annual traditions that will endure for many decades to come. This usually happens during the morning hours of the first three Saturdays in August (if you are reading this before 8/19/17, you still have time to join the last Summer Streets of the year!). If you are in NYC during this period, make it a point to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

I make it a point to take advantage of this fun outing at least once per year. Organizing a group of friends to run the length of the course is a plus. And if you have time to spare, there are usually great attractions to get in line for along Summer Streets. In the past, there have been container swimming pools, art installations in the Park Ave. Tunnel, ziplines, water slides, and more. Also, nowadays, lots of fitness and wellness-related companies setup booths to share their latest wares with you.

The point of this is that if you don’t get out and experience this special event, you miss out on an opportunity to enjoy some of the best things that New York City has to offer: a car-less opportunity to travel down the skyscraper-lined streets, with the best parts of the New York City community all around you. And you will likely travel in a state of continual wonder and awe without having to worry about a two-ton truck bearing down on you unawares.

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Route map in three pieces to provide street name detail.

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Also, here is a better map from the Summer Streets site.

Route Description:

(Run 8/12/17) If you want to run the whole banana, start the route in Central Park on the 72nd Transverse overlooking the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain (made famous in numerous TV shows and films).

Head east on the 72nd St. Transverse until you reach the edge of the park at 5th Ave. Then, continue along 72nd St. until you reach Park Ave.

Make a right on Park Ave. and follow the signs all the way down to Brooklyn Bridge! Pretty simple, right?


5.2 (Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge entrance) to 6.5 (Central Park to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge) miles


Basically flat. Varies from 0 to 64 feet.

Hill Ratio:

0 hills for a ratio of 0.00.


0.00. No cigarette smokers encountered during this run.


0.0. Amazingly, the entirety of this course from Central Park to the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge does not bring you to within a half mile of either of Manhattan’s two freeways.

Safe after dark?

I’d say this route is very safe to run during the event hours and very safe during daylight hours and pretty safe up until midnight most other times just because it is in Manhattan.

Crowd Scene?

Serious runners will usually try to run the course starting at 7am when it opens. In past years, it becomes a runner’s nightmare after 9am when all the tourists, walkers, and recreational bikers make it out.

Running Surface:

Concrete and asphalt.

Changing Station?

There a whole host of options for changing all along this route. In Central Park there are bathrooms under the Bethesda Terrace on the south side, then you have a few hotels you can sneak into to use their typically clean bathrooms along the route like the Grand Millenium at Grand Central Terminal, the Whole Foods bathroom on 14th, the changing rooms at REI on Houston, or the Millenium Hilton Downtown bathrooms on the third floor.

Points of Interest:

Along the way, you’ll be treated to great views of Park Ave. from the Upper East Side through midtown and the MetLife Building (formerly the PanAm Building), the MetLife Tower, the Union Square Metronome, Chinatown, the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse (of Law and Order fame), City Hall, and the Brooklyn Bridge among many other historic sites.

Good for Groups:

Great for group runs of up to 8-15. Most of the course is on wide streets that are typically clear early in the morning. It becomes far less manageable for large groups starting at 9am to the 1pm closing.

Safe from Cars:

Yes, a million times yes! No cars on Park Ave. and the cross traffic is managed well by volunteers and cops who strive to keep you safe during your journey.

Prospects for a Break-Free Run: 

The major break points will take place at the major intersections: 59th, 42nd, 34th, 23rd, 14th, Houston, Spring, Canal. But they will be enjoyable as they will give you a chance to pause and really drink in the experience.

Friends Run Into During Run:

Three! However, they were all running with me. But one of my running partners ran into at least two others that he knew.

Is there a route you’ve always wanted to run, but wanted someone else to run it first in case of hidden axe murderers or marauding street cat gangs? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to cover it! Or is there any other route criteria you’d like me to cover? If so, drop me a comment below.

© 2017 Danilo Torres. All rights reserved.


Manhattan: Downtown to the Upper East Side via Lafayette/Park Ave

Today’s post is sponsored by the letters “E” and “Z”. That is, today’s route prevents you from running any faster than an E-Z run pace. This is the most scenic north-south route in Manhattan in my opinion. Sure views of the river are great, but I think you see all kinds of Manhattan on this run. Including the people. Oh, the people. Originally, I wanted to run this route because I was feeling kinda tired and I knew there would be some traffic and ample opportunities for rest stops, but as they say, be careful what you wish for…

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Click on map to enlarge.

Route Description:

(Run 4/17/15) This route starts again at the World Trade PATH station and heads east to City Hall, then north (left) on Lafayette.

Lafayette heads north and merges into Park Ave around 9th St.

You’ll need to make a hitch around Grand Central Terminal, but you can rejoin Park Ave on 45th St via the pedestrian tunnel.

Continue up Park Ave to 86th for a 6 mile run or you can adjust to a 5 mile run by stopping at around 64th; stop around Grand Central Terminal (not “Station”) for a 4 miler.

The route is almost verbatim the same route used during the annual Summer Streets event held every August. Basically, the city closes down Park Ave/Lafayette to automobile traffic for three Saturday mornings every August so everyone can enjoy walking, running, biking, or skating up and down Park Ave. Street fairs are also added for good measure.


6.1 miles.


The GPS elevation map indicates that there were 6 significant hills during this run, however, the run felt like one long pull uphill.

Hill Ratio:

6 hills for a ratio of 0.97.

Cigarette Smokers Per Mile Run: 


Here’s the New York I know and love. However, this is probably not the healthiest of routes for the runner.

I’ve been thinking of a way to make this a more understandable stat. Think of it this way – if your high school coach asked you to run 6 miles and to inhale secondhand smoke 2.43 times per mile, would you question his training techniques? Right.

Safe after dark?

This route should be safe until late at night. I’d say 11pm to 12am is reasonable for most runners.

Crowd Scene?

Yes. You’ll head through three of the busiest areas in the City.

Running Surface:

Sidewalk for the most part.

Changing Station?

If you need to freshen up for an evening out with friends, you can always stop by JackRabbits on Lexington between 85th and 84th Sts.

Points of Interest:

This is my favorite part of this run. You see a pretty diverse swath of Manhattan via this route.

Starting at the World Trade Center PATH station, you’ll see roughly in this order:

  • The Freedom Tower
  • City Hall (and a quick peek of The Brooklyn Bridge)
  • One Police Plaza (or 1PP for you Law and Order fans)
  • The Federal Courthouse (also for you LAO fans)
  • The chaos that is Chinatown around Canal
  • Joe’s Public (the ones who run Shakespeare in the Park)
  • Union Square (with the 24-hour Best Buy and the digital hourglass clock just above)
  • The iconic insurance building they used in The Adjustment Bureau (around 24th St)
  • The section of Park Ave near Grand Central Terminal where Will Smith’s character in I Am Legend gets attacked by the smart monster
  • Grand Central Terminal itself
  • The Chrysler Building (the top of which is where Will Smith’s character in Men In Black 3 jumps from to travel back in time – I guess I watch a lot of Will Smith movies)
  • A section of Park Ave I am calling “Corporate Bank Headquarters Alley” which banks like Chase, Capital One, Bank of America and more call home (and they host interesting art shows on Park Ave from time to time also)
  • And finally the Upper East Side which, along Park Ave, is sort of like the suburbs for the 1%. Here you’ll see very wealthy people walking very pampered dogs and interacting with the doormen of their buildings.

Good for Groups:

Workable for 2-3 at the most. I had a few near misses as a single runner and moving at a pokey 10:30/mile pace.

Safe from Cars:

Not at all. Don’t fall asleep on this run and for goodness sake, don’t use headphones. Keep all those senses sharp.

Prospects for a Break-Free Run: 

Like I said, lots of people and lots of intersections including major cross roads at Canal, Houston, Houston, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 59th, 72nd, and 79th.

Friends Run Into During Run:


© 2015 Danilo Torres. All rights reserved.