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How dangerous is the walk in NYC from Lincoln Center Port Authority Bus?
April 23, 2014 9:24 AM   Subscribe

My 18 year old son is going to take a bus from Boston to NYC to see the opera. Is it dangerous for him to walk to the Port Authority?

He will walk from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Lincoln Center in the afternoon. After the show he will need to get back to the Port Authority to catch the bus back home, between 10 and 11. My question is, is the walk through that part of New York dangerous? Should he take a cab, or is it safe enough to walk. Neither he nor I are NYC experts. We tend to think of it as being filled with prowling bands of muggers and feral bond traders. But we also know that our opinions come from watching TV news, and are therefore considerably less grounded in reality as the works of Dashiell Hammett.

posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is extremely safe. As long as he practices very basic street smarts (after dark, don't wear earbuds; don't flash expensive jewelry or electronics), he will be more than fine (and even those precautions aren't strictly necessary).
posted by telegraph at 9:28 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]

Not a New Yorker, but if that was me I'd walk there and cab back.
posted by planetesimal at 9:28 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

It is probably not going to be dangerous, but that area of New York City can be pretty deserted at night, and since he's not familiar with the area and it's a cheap cab ride he should probably just take a cab.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:29 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

It is safe enough to walk, but it is far. He should take the 1 train from 66th St - Lincoln Center to 42nd St. - Times Square. The walk from Times Square to the Port Authority is one of the safest in New York.

If he really wants to walk, I'd maybe suggest walking down Broadway and then across on 42nd St. rather than down 9th Avenue to the back door of Port Authority, but it's pretty darn safe there too these days.
posted by Jahaza at 9:29 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]

The subway? He should take the subway. But walking would be OK, if not a little long.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:29 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]

But daytime, he should walk.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:30 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

I don't think that any part of Manhattan is dangerous anymore. It's all been gentrified.
posted by Melismata at 9:31 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Yeah... he definitely should walk during the day time for the experience if he has time.
posted by Jahaza at 9:31 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

Manhattan is super-safe, for the most part. I feel safer in NYC at 1 AM than I do in Philadelphia (where I work) in broad daylight. Have fun, kiddo!
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:32 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]

Is he street-smart in general? Does he know how to be aware of what's around him? Does he look like an out-of-towner, or can he project comfort in his surroundings?

On my first trip to NYC (I'm a sturdy-looking woman from a medium-sized Midwestern city) I walked 30 blocks up Broadway after dinner, alone, and felt pretty decent. I reasoned that I could stop and catch a bus or cab at any time, and that there were greengrocers on every corner and other people walking around. Which isn't to say that people were guaranteed to stop and help me if something happened, but in many ways it could be safer than my hometown, simply because there are people and streetlights and well-lit corners to duck into. Lincoln Center is a slightly different area, but there are Duane Reades everywhere.
posted by Madamina at 9:33 AM on April 23

It's safe. 9th Ave (Hell's Kitchen) is all restaurants and apartments now with lots of busy, busy nightlife.
posted by brookeb at 9:39 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

I've never felt unsafe in Manhattan. Husbunny and I walk around at night all the time when we visit.

It's a mile and a half, give or take, and I'd try to get a cab, but they're few and far between when a big show gets out...anywhere.

I'd take the subway, it's easier and faster.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:46 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Chiming in to say that that area seems relatively safe to. (I personally wouldn't have any problem walking it by myself that time of night). It's easy to navigate so he shouldn't get lost or anything like that. But it is a bit of a far walk so he could take a cab back or subway if he feels comfortable.

Port Authority creeps me out, but that might just be because it's dirty, crowded and my bus is (always late.)
posted by Shadow Boxer at 9:51 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

the young rope-rider: "It is probably not going to be dangerous, but that area of New York City can be pretty deserted at night, and since he's not familiar with the area and it's a cheap cab ride he should probably just take a cab."

Since when is Hell's Kitchen deserted at night? Definitely safe enough to walk there and back.

Also, NYC has a lower crime rate than Boston.
posted by Grither at 9:53 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]

Yes, it's extremely safe. No marauding muggers, this isn't the 70s. I think similar precautions to Boston (having lived both places) would apply here.
posted by sweetkid at 9:56 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

I also meant to mention that Dashiell Hammett is San Francisco, not New York.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on April 23

Oh man, he'll be safe as hell.

I don't even bat an eye at walking through Hell's Kitchen at 5am to catch the Bolt Bus.
posted by General Malaise at 10:02 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]

There will probably be lots of other people walking there too. I'm not sure if I would take the subway or walk, it would probably depend on whether I felt like walking at that time. But I wouldn't give it a second thought for safety.
posted by jeather at 10:03 AM on April 23

The worst danger he is likely to contend with on a walk between Lincoln Center & Port Authority are from the speeding/inattentive drivers. He needs to be especially alert at the crosswalks where cars can turn onto the street he's crossing, that seems to be the prime tragedy zone now. (If he's walking down Broadway, there will be plenty of other pedestrians at that hour keeping the traffic at a crawl, and he should be fine. But at this point we have more car-on-pedestrian/cyclist fatalities than gunshot fatalities, so, the garbage trucks & taxis are more likely to harm him than roving marauders)
posted by oh yeah! at 10:04 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Really the only thing to worry about is whether he'll need to go to a different floor to catch the bus later at night. (This happens with some New Jersey Transit routes.) He might want to ask about that in the afternoon, when the info desk is staffed.
posted by asperity at 10:04 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Seconding that the Port Authority itself is a bit creepy, but when I was 18, my parents were fine with me taking the bus home from NYC from there. They always told me (1) don't go up into the bus area until right before boarding (less people/less police presence), and (2) don't go in the bathroom.
posted by damayanti at 10:04 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

I can't believe people are even saying things like "relatively safe" or that he needs to be "street smart" (maybe street smart as in, don't count your stack of hundred dollar bills in front of everyone, or don't instigate arguments with strangers?) - I walk through that area with earbuds in all the time. It is super safe - it will be busy with foot traffic during the day, a little less so at night but still fine.

That said, it's kind of a trek and would be an easy 5 minute/7 dollar cab ride. Maybe walk during the day to experience walking around in NY and cab back?
posted by windbox at 10:04 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]

Just so you'll know, it can be very hard work to get a cab right at Lincoln Center after a show.
posted by JanetLand at 10:21 AM on April 23

Having lived in both the Boston and New York areas: would you let him walk from the North End of Boston down through Downtown Crossing into Chinatown? Because that's pretty comparable in terms of both distance and safety. (Only difference is that it's a lot harder to get lost in Manhattan).
posted by firechicago at 10:22 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

My son has done exactly this several times — yes, Boston, bus, opera and walking all included, and at a similar age — and there’s never even been a hint of a problem.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:25 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

I walk this exact path every day to work and back. It is my neighborhood. There are a ton of extremely high end condos and 9th Ave is filled with "gastropubs" and wine bars and restaurants specializing in putting bacon in things. The streets at night are full of good upstanding citizens hitting the pre-theater dinner rush and midtown office workers off the clock. It is SO SAFE.
posted by sestaaak at 10:26 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it is a SUPER safe walk, and a nice one, too. I don't think that it's a particularly long walk, assuming he has time before the bus. I've done this exact walk dozens of times, as a woman, alone, earbuds in, phone in hand, all hours of the night. Hope he enjoys his NYC/opera adventure!
posted by loolie at 10:41 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Since when is Hell's Kitchen deserted at night?

Depending how you walk, there are little pockets where there aren't people around, and that plus it being a touristy/bar-filled area (drunks and tourists are easy pickings) plus the weird sketchy crowd that hangs near port authority...meh. I've been repeatedly accosted there, men I've been with have been aggressively propositioned, people run scams on touristy types. I was never seriously worried for my safety there, but nor was I ever completely comfortable.

That said, the subway seems like a much better bet so I revise my advice to that anyway.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:42 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

My 18 year old son...

All I need to know - he will be fine.
Let him venture, he's a man now.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:03 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]

I also meant to mention that Dashiell Hammett is San Francisco, not New York.
The Thin Man!
posted by Jahaza at 11:10 AM on April 23

Totally safe, he'll be fine. His worst danger is getting lost though, especially at night.
posted by corb at 11:11 AM on April 23

Definitely safe to walk. It would be quicker to take the subway, however. Both options are perfectly safe. I walk around those neighborhoods (indeed, sometimes that very route) at night, alone, and have never had any trouble.
posted by bedhead at 11:12 AM on April 23

Nthing totally safe.

Just tell him to walk down 9th Avenue and don't even bother with the 8th Avenue entrance to Port Authority. There's an entrance under the overpass at 9th/41st.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:40 AM on April 23

Agree that it's extremely safe but a little on the far side considering that he'll probably be in a hurry to catch the bus.

I would suggest walking from Lincoln Center to Columbus Circle and taking the A/C train. As an extra convenience, the subway exit from 42nd street into the Port Authority will put him right next to the part of the station where NYC-->Boston buses depart from.
posted by fox problems at 11:47 AM on April 23

We tend to think of it as being filled with prowling bands of muggers and feral bond traders.

I've lived in this neighborhood for 8 years, walking around at all hours of the day and night in various stages of intoxication or exhaustion. It is completely safe. I don't think I've ever seen a prowling band of anything except maybe nannies with double-wide strollers. The only feral thing you'll find are bodega cats.

But we also know that our opinions come from watching TV
Having seen every episode of Law and Order multiple times, I thought I would have found at least five bodies in Riverside Park by now. Alas, NYC doesn't live up to the hype.

He'll be fine. Walk or take the 1 train (Times Square to Lincoln Center) or the C train (Port Authority to 59th St).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:51 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

He can walk between the 1 train and the PA station at the 42nd st stop.
posted by brujita at 12:17 PM on April 23

Nthing that it's a completely safe walk. The real annoyance is waiting for your bus at Port Authority, but if he doesn't let anyone talk to him there then he'll be fine.
posted by greenland at 12:48 PM on April 23

Very safe.

Also, since everyone is suggesting he take the subway, the subway is also safe.
posted by inertia at 1:12 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd take the 1/9 subway line instead of walking. The 1/9 goes almost anywhere you need to go in Manhattan. There is a subway station on the 1/9 that's right in Lincoln Center and you don't even have to go outside.

But that's just my preference. Others would walk, still others would take a cab.

I grew up about an hour outside NYC and thus Manhattan was popular for hangouts/events among me and my then-friends when I was in high school in the mid-90s. I found (and still find) walking in Manhattan to be quite safe so long as you have basic awareness of what's going on around you and practice the simple rule of "don't be stupid."

I'd be more worried about my safety waiting around in the Port Authority than I would walking around on the streets in that area of Manhattan.

I also lived in Boston (Allston/Brighton/Packard's Corner area) while I was in grad school (2002-03), and I worked in Boston (South Boston/Fort Point Channel area) from late 2006 to early 2008. While I found it typically safer than Manhattan, it's still a large, dense, highly populated major city that requires basic street smarts. If he's got street smarts for walking around in Boston, those will also serve him well in Manhattan.
posted by tckma at 1:18 PM on April 23

That's my neighborhood. I would take the subway, but the walk is fast and super safe!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:41 PM on April 23

Just a note: there's no more 9 train, just the 1. Sad times on the west side.
posted by Polyhymnia at 2:43 PM on April 23

Thanks, all. I'll forward this to him and let him make up his own mind.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 3:06 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]

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