Neighborhood: Turtle Bay, Manhattan
Population: 17,000 residents, Population Density: 50,000 residents/square mile
Adjacent neighborhoods: Lenox Hill, Midtown, Murray Hill
Public Transit: 4, 5, 6 (Grand Central 42nd Street), 7 and S (Grand Central 42nd Street), E (53rd and Lex), M (53rd and Lex)
What’s Here?: Turtle Bay is home to two of New York’s most important landmarks, the Chrysler Building and the UN Headquarters, but the residents that live there pride themselves on the community feel of the neighborhood. The 2,000 member Turtle Bay Association actively works to preserve the history of the area and the quality of life in the blocks extending from 43rd to 53rd and the East River to Lexington, and less than a quarter of the units in Turtle Bay are vacated each year. It’s not hard to see why residents are so devoted — with numerous public parks, a high safety rating (security from the UN is prevalent throughout the neighborhood), a variety of upscale restaurants next to affordable eateries, and a wide range of living options, both young professionals and families can find what they are looking for in Turtle Bay.
Flat or Tall?: Part of the attractiveness of Turtle Bay is the variety of living space, in both size and price. Residents live in historical brownstones, luxury high-rises, mid-priced doorman buildings, and walkups. The Turtle Bay Gardens Historic district, which houses stucco brownstones with individual backyards, features some of the most charming architecture in the area and has been been home to Katherine Hepburn, Stephen Sondheim, and E.B. White.
History: Turtle Bay originated as a farm given to two Englishmen by the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam in the 16th century, but it soon became a more public shelter from the harsh weather of the East River, as well as a shipyard. During the Civil War, the area housed an army enrollment office but was still largely pastoral until developers filled it with brownstones in the late 19th century. Throughout the early 20th century, with the influx of immigrants and heavy industrialization, the area became inundated with factories, plants, and manufacturing companies, but the construction of the UN campus between 1948 and 1952 opened the area up for high-rise buildings, which led to much of the neighborhood’s gentrification and open air feel.
Activities: Keeping with the neighborly vibe of the neighborhood, Turtle Bay is home to a number of restaurants with a consistent following. Pietro’s Steakhouse and Caterina’s Restaurant offer popular Italian and Hungarian food, respectively, and the Beer Bar serves as a casual place for afterwork drinks or a simple and quick bite. Megu is a great choice for fans of Japanese food. For a bit more activity, head to Calico Jack’s Cantina on the weekends, or, if relaxation is more your taste, stroll the tree-lined streets, enjoy the relative quiet, and take in the breeze from the East River.
Check it out: For any literary junkies: Turtle Bay is the location of the “old willow tree” that E.B. White writes symbolizes New York, “long-suffering and much climbed,” in his essay “Here is New York.” Though it seems like a tourist attraction, do check out the UN campus for the stunning row of flags and beautiful glass detail, or admire the elaborate gardens and fountains at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park.