To begin with: Have you been? No, really, have you actually been on West 22nd Street and basked in all its glory? Because there is glory—if you know where to look.
OK, so you’ve been. Maybe you started your route near the Hudson River and walked east—this is my favorite way to experience West 22nd. Or maybe you passed it in a cab on your way somewhere else and felt its magnetic pull even from inside the cab and thought to yourself: Now that is a good street!
I first came in contact with 22nd Street when my ex lived in a co-op rental on the Park Avenue side. I was in love. With the street, not the ex. ’Twas charming and tree-lined, just quiet enough yet super-accessible.
Later, when I found myself single and apartment-less, I did the only thing I knew: hit up StreetEasy for listings on 22nd. Behold! A beauty! A full 212 square feet on the west side, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
Here’s the best neighborhood park this side of Gramercy Park. Even better? You don’t need to be part of some secret society to gain access.
I was curious to see if far West 22nd Street would still feel good as a place to live. I’d soon find out the answer was: absolutely. For one thing, there’s the water. Aside from water views being a thing in this town, you can’t beat this little stretch of land between the river and the West Side Highway that, unlike other parts of the city (specifically, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum area), is actually calming. The way staring aimlessly at water should be!
And here I must give a shout-out to the crosswalk that is perfectly aligned with West 22nd Street and helps one get across Twelfth Avenue without a single car swipe, and thus completely concussion-less.
The Hudson River Greenway, as they call it on Google Maps, or “the running path,” as it’s more commonly known to New Yorkers, is just a hop-skip from 22nd Street. This is a major perk for West Side Highway runners, walkers, and bicyclists who know all too well how inconvenient getting on and off this path can be. SoHo entrance? Meatpacking?! Give me a break.
Let us pause for a minute to catch our breath and for a few words that will warm any city citizen’s cold heart: Dog park! Dog park! Dog park! Yes, there is a high-quality run for pooches right there on 22nd, between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues.
Now we’re just crossing Tenth Avenue and here’s the best neighborhood park this side of Gramercy Park. Even better? Unlike the one far to the east, you don’t need to be part of some secret society to gain access to the lush blocks. And it’s worth noting that the entrance here practically screams: Our gate is better than Gramercy Park’s gate! You have to see it to believe it. It’s tall. It’s iron. It’s old yet maintained. It feels so fancy, but entrance is totally free!
Next we roll up to the stretch of NYC real estate I like to call Halloween Paradise. These people go. All. Out. I know, I know: Everyone in New York loves Halloween. But no. Not like they do on West 22nd Street. I’ve seen townhouses band together to create cohesive Halloween strategies year after year. When people reminisce on how “New York just isn’t the same anymore,” they aren’t talking about West 22nd Street on Halloween. That old-timey, community, neighborly vibe from New York of yore exists here at the tail end of October, on the best street in town.
One morning, mere steps from my apartment, I saw the most handsome man imaginable on my street. He looked like he was in on the secret, too. Did he live here? How had I never seen him before? He must be visiting. Maybe he’s Airbnbing a few yards down. I needed to know, so I asked. Turns out, he lived next door and has lived next door for three years. You’ve lived here three years? He’s lived here three years! I still didn’t believe him, so I tested him on street happenings and local celebrities: Do you know the code to the secret parking lot? Do you know the bodega man’s son’s name? He knew it all. I swore right then and there if we ever got married, he’d have to propose on 22nd Street or I’d never say yes. He didn’t, but we got married anyway.
Molly Borman is the social media director at What Should We Do?! She and her husband have since moved away from West 22nd Street, but it remains her favorite street.