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City Living: Midtown South

The area the city defines as Midtown South is many things, but it's definitely not this: slow. People bustle to their jobs in the towering office buildings. Tourists flock to the ample shopping and historical sites. And now more than ever, people are calling the area's many neighborhoods home.

It doesn't hurt either that three of the city's major transportation hubs -- Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority and Penn Station -- are located within Midtown South's borders. "You can get anywhere from this area, and you can go anywhere from this area," said Wally Rubin, Midtown's district manager.

The area is home to the Flatiron District, the Garment District, the Flower District and Koreatown to name a few attractions. At the heart of it all is Herald Square, a stretch made famous by George M. Cohan's 1904 musical hit "Give My Regards to Broadway." The square is home to Macy's flagship department store, which moved to its current home in 1902.

"It's a vibrant community in a somewhat older part of town," Rubin said. "It gives you the grandeur of old New York."With so much to see and do in Midtown South, it's no wonder people there move so fast.

Find it Midtown South is bordered to the north by 42nd Street, to the south by 23rd Street, to the east by Lexington Avenue and to the west by Eighth Avenue.

To play You'll find every type of bar in this neighborhood, but the bulk of them cater to area professionals post-work day. Themes are commonplace and unfortunately, so are steeper-priced drinks.

The Cutting Room This midsized setting is a great place to catch a variety of musical acts. Norah Jones, Kid Rock, Vanessa Carlton and yes, even Mini-Kiss, have played there. And thanks to the star power of co-owner and "Sex and the City" actor Chris Noth, it's easy to catch a celebrity or two lounging on the front room's leather couches. 19 W. 24th St. 212-691-1900

The Ginger Man A beer lover's paradise, this spacious bar boasts 66 drafts whose taps artfully adorn the bar wall. Ginger Man also serves more than 130 bottled beers. It gets crowded around happy hour, though, when professionals flock to the living-room setting in the back room. 11 E. 36th St. 212-532-2740

Red Sky Bar & Lounge Red Sky is at once bohemian, trendy and sporty. Maybe that's because there are three floors to hang out on. Catch the game on huge televisions on the first and second floors or climb to the deck for low tables and a Zen feel. And you can't miss the tropical fish tanks on the bathroom walls. 47 E. 29th St. 212-447-1820

Cellar Bar Located in the Bryant Park Hotel, this spot manages to be unpretentious despite its sexy wait staff and elaborate decor. The chic atmosphere created by the vaulted ceilings and chandeliers is worth the pricey choices on the martini menu. 40 W. 40th St. 212-642-2260

To eat Heavy social traffic in Midtown South lends to the neighborhood's responsibility to satisfy a plethora of palates. A diverse restaurant selection more than fulfills this calling.

Blue Smoke The highly touted burgers owe their deliciousness to an 18-ingredient "magic dust," a concoction so secret that reportedly, even cooks don't know its components. Top off the night with a visit to the basement jazz club, where the acts don't disappoint. 111 E. 27th St. 212-447-7733

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant The cavernous feel and the Guastavino-tiled ceilings complement the surprisingly affordable seafood experience. The raw bar is a shellfish lover's dream come true. 89 E. 42nd St. 212-490-6650

RUB BBQ (Righteous Urban Barbecue) Never mind the annoying moniker, Southern transplants to New York find a little taste of home in the pulled pork sandwiches. For a true barbecue experience and to compromise your cholesterol level, opt for hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and the burnt-end dinner (the fatty part of the brisket). 203 W. 23rd St. 212-524-4300

The Trailer Park Lounge & Grill Trailer Park prides itself on its kitschy environment. The tacky decorations are overkill, the menu is refreshingly straightforward. Order a BLT and a moon-pie and wash it all down with a can of PBR. Don't bother asking for wheat bread or dressing on the side; such fussiness is frowned upon at Trailer Park. 271 W. 23rd St. 212-463-8000

To shop Multiple branches of staple brand stores (Gap, H&M, Victoria's Secret and others) are easy to come by in Midtown South. To stand out a little more, fans of fashion can also check out the sample sales in the square-mile Garment District.

Keni Valenti Retro-Couture The one-room space is a mecca for those seeking exclusive vintage pieces. Among Keni Valenti's collection pieces are Michael Jackson's "Thriller" jacket. Make an appointment, know what you're looking for and prepare to shell out big bucks. 155 W. 29th St., fifth floor 917-686-9553

Duty Free Apparel Their specialty is bags. Big European name bags at highly discounted prices with Prada and Fendi among them. The merchandise is guaranteed to be authentic, but be wary of what you purchase, because there are no returns. 204 W. 35th St., second floor 212-967-6538

Macy's Shopping aside, many visitors come to appreciate its history. Various versions of the holiday classic "Miracle on 34th Street" are set in this flagship department store. 151 W. 34th St. 212-695-4400

To do The Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Bryant Park, the public library's main branch and Grand Central Terminal are the obvious tourist attractions, but there's much more to see.

Little Church Around the Corner Also called the Church of Transfiguration, the church building itself is set farther away from 29th Street, and the beautiful surrounding garden provides a buffer from the sidewalk bustle. Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the English Neo-Gothic style and 14th-century stained glass of this national landmark. 1 E. 29th St. 212-684-6770

The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library The library boasts an extensive collection of materials relating to Freemasonry, a secretive society that included George Washington and Ben Franklin. The grand lodge's ceiling inspired the design of the Titanic's ballroom ceiling. 71 W. 23rd St. 212-337-6620

Madison Square Park With your dog, a cup of coffee or a good book, the park is a great place to take in the views of the Flatiron District -- particularly, the Flatiron Building and the Metlife Tower, which at 700 feet was the tallest building in the world at the time of its construction in 1909. Between 23rd and 26th streets and Madison and Fifth avenues

Museum of Sex It's not the ideal place to take your parents when they visit town, but it's interesting nonetheless. The Museum of Sex breaks down human sexuality into art and academic form. The exhibition "Kink: Geography of the Erotic Imagination" can be viewed until Feb. 8. 233 Fifth Ave. 212-689-6337

Real estate Residents of Midtown South shell out millions to live in one of Manhattan's busiest neighborhoods. Some feel the unparalleled convenience and posh setting are worth every penny.

For sale One-bedroom, two-bath high-rise loft space with home office, built-in LCD screens and Avanti wine coolers. 11 E. 36th St., Apt. 306. $1.2 million. Two-bedroom, two-bath high-rise condo with doorman and Brazilian hardwood floors. 121 E. 23rd St., Apt. 16D. $1.4 million. Three-bedroom, two-bath loft space. 150 W. 26th St., Apt. 803. $2 million. Two-bedroom, two-bath renovated loft with balcony and bamboo floors. 241 W. 36th St., Apt. 7R. $1.8 million. Two-bedroom, two-bath space with floor-to-ceiling windows. 325 Fifth Ave., Apt. 30C. $1.8 million.

For rent One-bedroom high-rise apartment on 25th floor with doorman. 11 E. 29th St., Apt. 25B. $4,000. One-bedroom, one-bath apartment with doorman and fitness center. 30 Park Ave., Apt. 9L. $3,500. One-bedroom luxury space with doorman. 35 E. 35th St., Apt. 9F. $3,200. Two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath in 12-floor building with doorman. 148 W. 23rd St., Apt. 3A. $4,000. Two-bedroom prewar apartment with doorman and renovated kitchen and bathroom. 305 Lexington Ave., Apt. 12A. $3,350.

Contact: Astrid Pillay, Halstead Property, LLC, 212-381-2262

The basics

Schools Dozens of schools, public and private, are located within Midtown South. The area is home to several reputable colleges, including the Fashion Institute of Technology and CUNY's Baruch College.

Crime Within the NYPD's Midtown South precinct, overall crime dropped 34.6 percent from 2001 to 2006. A notable decrease in crime includes a 53.4 percent drop in robberies. There were two murders, 246 robberies and 531 burglaries in the area in 2006, according to the NYPD.

Transportation Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and Port Authority are the major hubs located within Midtown South's borders. The area is easily accessible by train on the A, C, E, N, Q, R, W, B, D, F, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lines. Numerous bus routes service the neighborhood.

Q&A

Alberto Gonzalez, a native of Vina del Mar, Chile, has worked as a vendor selling nuts in Herald Square for more than 16 years. Gonzalez, 41, said that although the weather and the businesses around him are always changing, his love for the area remains consistent.

How do you like being self-employed? I worked hard to save money to have my own cart. It's a dream. I work about 10 hours a day, but I have no boss. I think everybody wants to work for themselves because nobody bothers you.

What kind of people do you work with? Some tourists, but mostly New York people. My customers are regular New York people.

How has the layout of the area changed since you began working here? The hotel [at 32nd and Broadway] used to be the Wilfred Hotel, then it was the Martinique, then the Holiday Inn and now it's the Radisson. There used to be only factories around here, but the offices and Koreatown came, and the economy is going up because of them.

When are the best times for the nut business? When it's cold, people buy more nuts. But when it's too cold, they won't want to stop, so it depends. I sell a lot after 4, when people are going home and they need a snack.

What would you be doing if you weren't a food vendor? I don't want something else. I like this job. I want to be a merchant and nothing else. I like New York and all the different people of New York.

The buzz

The lower portion of Midtown South grows more residential as buildings on Sixth and Seventh avenues pop up in the 20s. Unique condo conversions - for example, a manufacturing plant now fit to live in -- are also a big draw.

"This has become a hot area for young professionals who somehow can afford very expensive apartments," said realtor Astrid Pillay, of Halstead Property, LLC. "They're not cookie cutter. Even if they don't have views or light, they're interesting layouts and people are paying premium dollar for them."

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