Murray Hill & Kips Bay Overview
Murray Hill & Kips Bay is a popular landing spot for post-college residents looking for the holy grail of cheap rent and great bars and restaurants. Still in the heart of Manhattan, Kips Bay and Murray Hill doesn't have the trendy sizzle of other New York neighborhoods, but it's convenient location and great prices more than make up for it.
In the the sections below, you'll get a glimpse into life in Murray Hill & Kips Bay. But before you go anywhere, make sure you scroll through the photos in the gallery below. Nothing can tell the story of a neighborhood as well as a few good photos.
Murray Hill & Kips Bay History
When Dutch settler Jacobus Hendrickson Kip arrived at the east side of modern-day Manhattan, he decided to buy up land for a family farm. Because an inlet of the East River was located on Kip's property, the area became known as Kips Bay. When the farm was eventually torn down in 1851, it was New York City's last surviving New Amsterdam farmhouse. Around the same time, much of the area was reclaimed from the Bay and filled with land.
A Revolutionary War battle, the Landing at Kips Bay, took place there in September 1776. Four thousand British troops descended upon the city and were met by just 500 American militiamen. The patriots were taken by surprise, retreated to avoid more casualties, and subsequently the British gained control of New York City. The American troops, however, won the next day's battle against the British in Harlem.
Kips Bay saw more action a decade later as the site of one of the country's first riots. For three days in 1788, an angry mob rioted to protest grave robbing-doctors were using the bodies to practice anatomical dissections. Grave robbing was so widespread that rich families would hire guards to protect the newly buried bodies of their loved ones. More rioting took place in Kips Bay in 1863 to protest the Civil War draft, specifically the clause that allowed the rich to escape the draft with a $300 draft exemption fee.
On the calmer side of history, a lower Manhattan medical infirmary was moved to Kips Bay in 1794 after a citywide yellow fever outbreak. City residents demanded that the infirmary be moved to a more remote area where patients could be quarantined. In 1811, the hospital expanded and purchased Kips Bay's Belle Vue Farm. It became known as Bellevue Hospital. By the 1950s, NYU Medical Center and the VA Medical Center opened their facilities in Kips Bay. The area became known as "Hospital Row" and is still home to some of the country's best hospitals.
Things were a little bit quieter in neighboring Murray Hill. Quaker merchant Robert Murray located his horse farm on 29 acres of land in a previously unsettled area. After he built his house on a hill, the area became known as Murray Hill. The farm was established in 1762 and stayed in the Murray family for generations. Murray's heirs limited business and commercial development in the area which resulted in a quieter residential neighborhood. After elevated railroads were built nearby, Murray Hill became a fashionable neighborhood for the wealthy. These train lines were torn down over 50 years ago, and apartment buildings replaced them.
MURRAY HILL & KIPS BAY Vibe
Murray Hill and Kip’s Bay are often lumped together as one neighborhood, but if you want to get technical, Kip’s Bay begins around East 23rd Street and stretches up to East 34th Street, at which point Murray Hill takes over and reaches it’s northern boundary at East 40th Street.
The area’s prevailing reputation is one of recent college grads, particularly those who like to throw back a few cold ones at local bars like Joshua Tree, Third and Long, and Bar 515. And while the area does host its fair share of 20-something former frat boys, it’s also home to an eclectic mix of business owners, well-heeled families, and life-long city residents.
The neighborhoods feature a mix of architecture from high-rise apartments to office buildings to historic townhouses. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars – both those that cater to recent grads and those of the more gentile variety.
Unique in Manhattan is the commercial strip known as Kips Bay Plaza. This suburban-esque two street stretch features an AMC/Loews movie theater, Staples, Petco, Crunch Fitness, Rite-Aid, and a Fairway supermarket.
MURRAY HILL & KIPS BAY Transportation
Murray Hill & Kips Bay are popular spots for recent college graduates due to their relatively low Manhattan real estate costs. With that affordability, however, comes a little bit of inconvenience. For trips anywhere other than up and down the east side, you would likely need to make a transfer.
Murray Hill and Kips Bay Subway & Walking Times
The northern end of Murray Hill is a short walk away from Grand Central Station, which serves as the hub for New York and Connecticut commuter rails. These trains can take you just about anywhere along the Hudson River or up into Connecticut, which makes for an easy day-trip from the City.
MURRAY HILL & KIPS BAY Guidebook Landmarks
Empire State Building
The 102-story Empire State Building is the single most recognizable building in NYC. While tourists wait in line for hours to access the observation deck, locals tend to speed walk by without so much as a glance. But the Art Deco design makes for some interesting, retro details worth looking at if you're in the neighborhood. And when you're a little further away after dark, it's always fun to check out the light color scheme at the top of the building. The color changes every night, and it's often a special combo in honor of some holiday, event, charity, or team.
The U.N. complex off of First Avenue has served as the international organization's headquarters since 1952. The land it occupies is technically not part of New York City, New York State, or even the United States; it's considered extraterritorial. But the U.N. does agree to abide by most of our laws in exchange for local services such as police and fire protection. Just inside the entrance to the complex, in front of the domed General Assembly building, the flags of all 193 U.N. member states stand in alphabetical order.
MURRAY HILL & KIPS BAY Insider LANDMARKS
Pierpoint Morgan Library
If you ever wanted a window into the outside-of-work persona of one of the most successful finance guys in New York history, the Morgan Library & Museum is a good place to start. The library began in 1906 to house J.P. Morgan's personal collection of rare books and manuscripts, prints, and drawings. The building's interior is, of course, lavishly decorated, and one of the most stunning rooms is what was once Morgan's private study. Today the entrance on Madison Avenue is a modernist white structure that helps join the older buildings and courtyard
MURRAY HILL & KIPS BAY Parks & Recreation
Bellevue South Park (1.6 acres)
Bellevue South Park is named for the NYC Hospital that is nearby. The Park stands on what used to be "Belle Vue Farms" in the early nineteenth century, which was purchased by the city and then turned into a civic center and eventually, the Bellevue Hospital. The name itself is also a bit misleading because the Park actually sits West of the Hospital, not South. Once dingy and concrete-filled, the Park got a major renovation in 1997 and is now a vibrant green-space dotted with recreational areas.