I made my first real foray into midtown today, walking the blocks from 35th St. through 30th St., about 10 miles.
There are too many neighborhoods in Midtown (which I broadly define as everything between 30th St. and 59th St.) to get into specific histories / boundaries. On this walk alone I went through 8 (in order of east/ west, north / south; Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, the Garment District, the Tenderloin, Herald Square, Korea Town, Murray Hill, and Kips Bay).
I passed by the Empire State Building (probably the City's most recognizable landmark after the Statue of Liberty) on this walk. It was built in 1931, and at 1,454 ft. and 103 stories, it beat the previous record holder (the nearby Chrysler Building) by more than 400 ft. It maintained its title for almost 40 years until it was overtaken by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1970. Today the ESB ranks #2 in New York, #4 in America and #23 worldwide. It's impressive today and must have been even more so in the 30's and 40's when most of the buildings in the area were around 1/4 its size.
Less impressive edifices along the walk were Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The original Penn Station, a masterpiece in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, was demolished in 1963 to make way for a new sports complex (the 4th incarnation of Madison Square Garden) and office building. Today Penn Station could best be described as a subterranean labyrinth of despair.