Have You Thought About Murray Hill?

by Liz Colville

There’s a place in Manhattan that’s a bit like the Wall Street of Midtown; the Upper East Side of Midtown; the college campus of Manhattan; the Williamsburg of people who have no idea what Williamsburg is and will never set foot in Brooklyn. It’s a frontier for the most cautious of frontiersman; a scene for the most businesslike of scenester; a party for the most time-strapped of party-seeker. Here, all buildings containing useful things close at 6PM and the streets seem dark and quiet and sad. All movement seems to cease except the wind coursing down Park Avenue South. The lights are on in Chipotle but nobody’s home, except one woman in a suit eating a burrito bol, “watching” her Blackberry.

But things are happening here! Really, a lot of one or two things. Old ladies are walking their dogs outside facades and awnings and clean streets that say, “This could be the Upper East Side, if you’d just have a little faith, and if you knew anything about anything, you would know that this used to be the Upper East Side!,” so they dress the part, looking you up and down from behind tinted bifocals, stooping down in gloved hands to pick up terrier poop. In pub-like bars, men are rediscovering beer pong, in the sense that every time one goes to the bathroom, one rediscovers toilet paper. In the New York Sports Club on 34th and Park, thousands of co-eds are convening. Several stretch on the upper balcony of the facility while surveying the treadmill enthusiasts below. A girl waiting for an elliptical in some tight pink shorts bends down to touch her toes and a couple of sweaty guys nearby resist the urge to clap. The lines are long, but opportunity awaits in these lines. Talk to her/him!, patrons tell themselves in internal personal trainer-like pep talks. The air conditioning billows down onto their heads, like a cool, gentle hand coaxing them toward their future husband or wife. They wear earphones, but no music comes out of them: ears must be available for any potential chat-up. This is Murray Hill.

The New York Times today solved the mystery of Murray Hill: it’s full of apartment buildings for postgraduates with nice parents. These places are described as a kind of halfway point between a dorm and a “real” apartment, presumably in a more “happening” neighborhood. Because New York can be terrifying. Thankfully, in Murray Hill:

recent college graduates can find themselves among fellow alumni, meet up for familiar drinking rituals and flock to the frozen-yogurt shops and sushi bars that help them stay fit and find a mate for the next stage of life.

Yes. The New York Sports Club alone should have its own “Vows” section. More on the secret:

Colleges like Syracuse, Emory and Michigan seem overrepresented among the tenants, many of whom have their rents subsidized by parents left behind in the suburbs of Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey.


Parents appreciate Windsor Court because it has a driveway that allows them to drop off comfort packages without hunting for a parking space.


Ms. Katz, 23, moved in after graduation because a Syracuse sorority sister needed a roommate to split the rent for a one-bedroom apartment (which generally go for $3,200).

Jesus. Anyway, in the tradition of Times trend pieces, the cat is out of the bag, which you would think would give the place some newfound cachet, but Ms. Katz sees it differently:

Ms. Katz said Murray Hill “is starting to lose its coolness.”