When I moved to New York City a little over a year ago, there was a lot for me to take in. Figuring out the subway routes was tough those first few months, and remembering where all the neighborhoods were seemed downright impossible. Knowing the location of each neighborhood was tricky because of all the NYC abbreviations and acronyms that get thrown around. I’m sorry, you want to meet me in Nolita? Where the heck is that?
If you don’t know the cross streets for NYC’s neighborhoods it can be tricky to get around. I’ve listed the most common abbreviations and acronyms you’ll run into while traveling in NYC in hopes that this list will prevent you from getting lost in the future. If you can’t remember everything, don’t worry. I’ve lived here over a year and still get things mixed up.
Common Abbreviations & Acronyms
NYC: New York City. If you didn’t know this already, I’m not sure you can handle a trip to New York.
UWS: Upper West Side. This area runs from West 59th street to West 110th street, and is mainly residential. The UWS is a nice place to live and borders Central Park. You can also find the Museum of Natural History here, which I highly recommend visiting.
UES: Upper East Side. The UES is a swankier part of the city and is a great place to live. Though primarily residential, there are still lots of good eateries here. The UES goes from 59th Street to 96th Street, give or take a few blocks. There are lots of museums here, the most famous of which is The Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you’re a Gossip Girl fan, you’ll want to check out this neighborhood.
LES: Lower East Side. This neighborhood is squished between Bowery Street and the East River, and Houston Street and Canal Street. The LES is primarily residential, but it has some fab restaurants like The Clinton St. Baking Company, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, and Doughnut Plant.
Nolita: North of Little Italy. Nolita is bordered by Houston Street on the north, Bowery Street on the east, Broome Street on the South, and Lafayette Street on the west. This area is close to Chinatown and Little Italy.
SoHo: South of Houston Street. This Indiana girl refuses to pronounce Houston like “how-stin,” which is how New Yorkers say it. SoHo is bordered by Houston Street, Crosby Street, Canal Street, and 6th Avenue. SoHo is the place to window shop in NYC, and you can find most major brands represented here.
NoHo: North of Houston Street. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? NoHo is smaller than SoHo and is mostly residential. It’s bordered by Broadway, Astor Place, Bowery, and E Houston.
Tribeca: Triangle Below Canal Street. This area is bordered by Canal Street, West Street, Broadway, and Vesey Street (it’s a really weird shape, so look it up on a map to be sure you’re in the right area). There’s not a whole lot going on in Tribeca that visitors to the city would be interested in, but a great place to eat here is Maman.
FiDi: Financial District. Lots of people crap on FiDi because it’s the “boring” part of the city, but I actually think it’s a beautiful area. After work and on the weekends it’s fairly empty (by NYC standards) and there are lots of great things to do in the area, like Trininty Church (where Alexander Hamilton is buried), the Charging Bull, and the 9/11 Museum. FiDi is the southern tip of Manhattan, or everything below Chambers Street.
DUMBO: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. If you walk over either the Booklyn Bridge or the Manhattan Bridge, you need to explore DUMBO. In the summer, there are great waterfront dining options and the area near the river has lots of cute boutiques and restaurants.
MSG: Madison Square Garden. MSG is above Penn Station, which is one of the largest transportation hubs in NYC. It’s a famous indoor arena that’s used for everything from concerts to basketball games.
LIRR: Long Island Rail Road. You can access the LIRR from Penn Station. $10 to whoever can guess where it takes you.
MTA: Metropolitan Transport Authority. Keep an eye out for the MTA’s flyers on the subway. If you see one, it’s likely for a “planned service change,” i.e. good luck getting to your final destination on time.
WTC: World Trade Center. You likely know the WTC from the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Now you can visit two memorial fountains where the Twin Towers once stood and can take an elevator to the top of the One World Trade Center building, which gives you an epic view of NYC.
NJT: New Jersey Transit. You won’t need to worry about deciphering this abbreviation unless you’re staying in New Jersey when you’re visiting New York.
PABT: Port Authority Bus Terminal. You can access the PABT from the Times Square subway station. Almost all the subway lines converge here, and this is where you can catch a bus out of the city.
GWB: George Washington Bridge. This is one of the busiest bridges in the US and connects Fort Lee, NJ to Washington Heights on Manhattan.
Bed-Stuy: Bedford-Stuyvesant. This is a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn you might want to visit.
Subway lines to know: NQR, ACE, etc. This isn’t an acronym, per se, but it can be confusing when someone gives you instructions for getting across town and keep saying things like, “take the NQR to 34th and then transfer to the BDFM.” Many subway lines run the same route to a certain point, so if you hear the lines grouped together like this it means any of those trains will get you to your destination.
Did I miss anything? The list of NYC abbreviations and acronyms is constantly evolving, but I did my best to explain the major ones. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the New York neighborhoods, but these are the ones that get shortened in everyday conversation.
Tell me: What’s one thing that confuses you when you’re traveling?
Love NYC? Then you’ll love these posts:
- 10 Things You Have to Do Your First Time in NYC
- A Quick Guide to Arthur Avenue: The Bronx’s “Little Italy”
- 6 Tips for Making the Most of Your Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
- The Pros and Cons of Living in a Big City Like NYC