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Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

Brunswick, Georgia
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Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

So we figured out the subway system pretty quickly. The hard part is knowing which exit to take and which way to walk once on the street. Am i missing an obvious point here?

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Brunswick, Georgia
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172 posts
10 reviews
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1. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

BTW, we adore the city and have found everyone to be very kind and helpful.

Terrigal, Australia
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2. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't


In relation to part of your question "which way to turn " for our upcoming (2 weeks) trip to NYC - I saw some advice from a TA poster that suggested getting a small compass and carry it with you - so when you emerge from subway and want to go up - or -down town - knowing which way is North will assist.

So can't advise on the benefits of this advice at the moment but the idea seemed sound !

Safe Travels!

Edited: 10 March 2012, 01:38
Destination Expert
for Guernsey
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3. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

That might have been me, I always carry a little compass on me in NYC (recently had to buy a new one as the former one has lost its way...)

as for the right exit, I guess that's mostly a matter of having a very clear idea of where you're headed and then checking which streats equal this goal...(I always forget to do this), But usually, when on the platform, there are signs that will say: xx-street, or north side...and so on.

Edited: 10 March 2012, 01:46
Sterling, VA
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for Washington DC
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4. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

If you are in Manhattan, if possible, look for a landmark. For example, if you exit the 6 train at 51 St. and you want to go north, look for the ESB. It would be south of 51 St. So, if you want to go north, walk in the opposite direction.

During the day, look where the sun is in the sky. If you want to go west and it's afternoon, the sun will be in the western sky.

In Manhattan, if you are in an area where the streets/avenues are numbered, when heading north the street numbers will increase. So, if you head south accidentally when you wanted to go north, you will know it because the street numbers are decreasing. For example, if you start out at 51 St. and want to go north, you'll be on the right track if the next numbered street is 52 St.

New York
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5. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

The exits are generally labeled - 79th St. and Broadway, SE corner, or something like that. That tells you everything you need to know about which way to walk.

Also, if you're in a smaller station, you can often recall which way the train was headed when you get above ground - so if the train was headed south and you want to go east, you know what to do. (This doesn't work for me in stations Times Square, because by the time you reach an exit you've made several twists and turns, so who knows which way the train was going.)

Portland, Maine
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6. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

Once you're outside, there are a couple of other tricks that usually work. On one-way east west streets (not the north south avenues), even numbered streets generally are eastbound and odd numbered ones are westbound. There are exceptions, but this is a good general rule.

In addition, on the east west streets, odd numbered buildings are on the north side of the street and even numbered ones are on the south side.

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7. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

Oh we had this problem too! Many times in our 2 weeks in NYC we would exit a subway, try to figure out where to go and walk half a block before we realised we'd gone the wrong way!

As a newbie tourist, it was just part of the fun of NYC!

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

If you know exactly where you are going then it's pretty easy.

For example:

you are on a A-B-C-E train and you want to go to 37th st and 6th ave: you need to stop at 34th st and find the exit that says: 34th st N (because you want to go from 34th to 37th) and E (because A-B-C-E trains are on 8th ave and you need to go east to reach 6th ave). Does it make any sense?

Always keep in mind that streets number increase from South to North and avenues number increase from East to West.

It's the same for every station, even big ones such as Time Square.

There is also always the solution of remembering which direction is the traffic on which avenue (honestly, I have never been able to remember it). Except on Park Ave, every avenue has its own traffic direction. For example, traffic goes from South to North on 7th Ave...so when you exit, you know where is North and where is South.

Hope it's not too confused and it helps. :)

NYC / Fire Island...
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9. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't


We have lived in NYC 40+ years and still sometimes make the wrong turns. Consequently, we agree with Meyem's suggestion that visitors carry a small compass. Below 14th Street, and especially below Houston Street, many east/west streets have names (instead of being numbered), as well, some major north/south arteries have names and are not designated as avenues....and to add to the confusion, the grids are not "exactly" east/west and north/south. For example, Broadway is diagonal “cattle path” that actually crosses many north/south avenues. Enjoy the adventure.

Hope this helps. Your questions are always welcome.



Casa Hoffa (South), Bahia Chahue, Huatulco, MX

Casa Hoffa (North), Fire Island, NY USA

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10. Re: Subway-easy. knowing which way to turn isn't

We had this problem too... you flatten yourself against a wall as soon as you exit the subway and get your bearings.... don't stop in the middle of the street!!! We used the "which way was the train heading" method although as Aimi pointed out can be hard if there's alot of turns to exit station.. you can usually see a cross street as you emerge and so can orientate yourself.

But if you've got a smartphone there's an app called NYC compass... it tells you which way is uptown, downtown, eastside or westside!