Riding the Line: Manhattan

Empty Rockefeller Center in coronavirus

The E train heads down into the tunnel after departing Court Square, rushes under the East River, and makes its next three stops along 53rd Street in Manhattan. The route runs through Midtown East, the Diamond District, and the eastern portion of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s primarily high-income and consists mostly of places tourists would be expected to visit while in New York. Department stores, luxury brand stores, and Rockefeller Center highlight the area’s importance as one of the world’s leading commercial centers.

The route then makes a turn off 7th Avenue and merges onto the original IND Eighth Avenue Line. 50th Street, 42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal, and 34th Street-Penn Station are arguably the most important segment of stops on this ride. Over 200,000 riders utilize the 42nd Street station on an average weekday and it’s the stop with the highest ridership in the entire subway system. The iconic Times Square, coupled with the major bus terminal, makes this station extremely popular. Not to mention the vital transportation hub just down the avenue in Penn Station where Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and LIRR can switch to the E train. The famous Madison Square Garden, which sits above the terminal, also means the E train sees plenty of sports fans at certain points during the week.

Times Square, one of the stops on the E train

As the line heads down the avenue and begins to approach Lower Manhattan, the E makes two stops at 23rd Street and 14th Street. The train passes directly through Chelsea and borders the Meatpacking District. Chelsea used to consist almost entirely of coal and gas plants up until around the late 1860s, when theaters started to sprout up. The Art Deco-style buildings such as the London Terrace rise up from the streets to add a rustic, throwback vibe to a neighborhood that has seen significant modernization in the past decade. The Meatpacking District was just as industrialized as Chelsea, but got its name from all the slaughterhouses and packing plants located there.

Lone Sneaker on Soho Streets
Cobblestone street in SoHo

West 4th Street-Washington Square, Spring Street, and Canal Street make stops in Greenwich Village and SoHo just before reaching the last stop. The area is well recognized for its artistic and inclusive vibe, with lots of NYU students and creative professionals. Washington Square Park is a popular location where people gather throughout the day and night and socialize. After SoHo underwent some serious rezoning in 2005, the number of artists who had moved in since the 1970s became more recognized for their works. Today, the neighborhood is a popular tourist site for people interested in architecture, art, and modern fashion.