Living in Union Square: Things to Do and See in Union Square, New York

Union Square—Cultural & Commercial Hot Spot in the Heart of Downtown

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Over the last two centuries, the Union Square neighborhood has been on the cutting edge of innovation, social justice, and the arts. It is still a center for political action as well as a commercial and cultural hub, offering some of the finest shopping, dining, and nightlife in the city. Close to several higher education institutions—among them Parsons School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, the New School, and New York University campuses—and the hotbed of fashion, media, design, and tech firms in the bordering Flatiron District make this area especially attractive to students and hip, young professionals. Fast-paced during the day and a trendy night spot after hours. Union Square is a place to see and be seen—where artistic vendors, chess players, dog walkers, and political activists mingle with Hari Krishna chanters, drum circles, and street performers.

Where is Union Square Located in NYC?

Union Square is in the borough of Manhattan, between the Flatiron District to the north, Chelsea to the west, Gramercy Park to the east, and Greenwich Village and the East Village to the south.

  • East to West Boundaries: Irving Place to Fifth Avenue
  • North to South Boundaries: 17th Street to 14th Street
  • Subway: 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, F, M, L
  • Ticket out of the City: Easy access to the FDR and the Westside Highway

What to Do in Union Square?

Surrounded by one of New York City’s finest luxury retail and nightlife districts, Union Square is a draw in itself. The historic 6.1-acre green space offers formal gardens, sculpture and statuary, meandering paths, a children’s playground, a dog run, and quiet spots to relax. In summer, the park showcases outdoor events, including movie screenings and concerts. It’s a favorite spot for creative vendors, with proximity to comedy clubs and three off-Broadway theaters—Vineyard Theater, Daryl Roth Theater, and Classic Stage—and the ballroom-style music venue Irving Plaza and the night club Webster Hall. Other landmarks include the former site of Andy Warhol’s Factory at 33 Union Square West, the Goethe Institute, and the Center for Jewish History. A few steps south is the famous Strand Bookstore with its miles of bookshelves with new, used, and rare books. Union square is unique even by Manhattan standards, a dynamic convergence of artistic, cultural, and political voices.

Union Square is known for its impressive equestrian statue of President George Washington, erected in 1856, and statues of Abraham Lincoln and Mohandas Gandhi. It also features street art, most famously the Metronome and the Countdown Clock at the southern end of the square, installed in 1999. Just east of the park is the Talwar Gallery, dedicated to contemporary South Asian and Indian art. Famous past residents include Tom Cruise, artists Frank Stella and Willem de Kooning, dancer Martha Graham, and Mark Twain.

What to See in Union Square?

Union Square is predominantly a commercial neighborhood interspersed with luxury loft-style apartments in boutique buildings. The area is renowned for its beautiful architecture, from ornate Beaux Arts style and Greek Revival to Chicago School and Art Deco. Many buildings are landmarked, including the nearby Flatiron Building, the iconic circa-1902 triangular skyscraper, just 6.5-feet wide at its narrowest point. Sleek contemporary residential towers are sprouting up along Union Square South, Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, and Broadway, offering white-glove services and amenities, including spas, indoor pools, roof decks, and valet parking. The Union Square Tech Hub, slated for construction at 124 E. 14th Street, will bring with it more development, both commercial and residential.

Where to Eat in Union Square?

The Union Square area has some of the most popular and acclaimed restaurants in New York City, including several Michelin-starred establishments: the classically elegant Gotham Bar and Grill, contemporary tapas bar Casa Mono, the Portuguese-themed Aldea, and the innovative vegetarian restaurant Nix. Other neighborhood hot spots include the Blue Water Grill and the famed Union Square Cafe by restaurateur Danny Meyer. The area’s celebrity chefs are regularly seen at the Union Square Greenmarket, New York City’s largest, offers a wide variety of local produce, meats, cheeses, and artisanal fare each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday throughout the year.

What Schools are in Union Square?

The neighborhood’s notable academic institutions include Washington Irving High School, which houses the Gramercy Arts High School; the High School for Language and Diplomacy; and the International High School at Union Square. The Institute for Collaborative Education and the High School for Health Professions and Human Services are both sited in the old Stuyvesant School campus. In addition are several private schools, including the Children’s International Workshop, Friends NYC, and the École Internationale de New York.

How Many People Live in Union Square?

Population: 56,000

What Languages Are Spoken in Union Square?

Language: English

What is the Currency in Union Square?

Currency: USD

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