The Murray Hill Neighborhood, lined with lush green trees and townhouses is a great cultural spot with many cultural institutions and mission houses from the United Nations.
Murray Hill extends from the East River to Fifth Avenue, and 40th Street on the north to 34thStreet, or even 27th Street on the south, depending on whom you ask! That’s because many people believe that adjacent Kips Bay, which is part of the same community district, ends at 34th, not 27th. Let’s just say that these friendly neighboring communities embrace the same Manhattan shoreline.
Murray Hill has good transportation, with the 4/5/6 subway heading north-south, and 7 train east-west. The FDR Drive is close by, and of course, New York’s architectural jewel, Grand Central Terminal, is a stone’s throw away.
Murray Hill has a fascinating history related to American independence. In 1762, an affluent country gentleman and his wife, Robert and Mary Murray, built a grand home at what is now Park Avenue and 36th Street. The neighborhood was named after their farm. Years later, the Revolutionary War for Independence raged in Manhattan, with important battles occurring here. In September 1776, a huge contingent of British troops landed by ship at nearby Kip’s Bay, and General George Washington ordered a strategic retreat. Mrs. Murray displayed quick thinking by inviting the British general and his officers for tea in her parlor, giving the American army time to escape with their lives and regroup to eventually win the war. Mary Lindley Murray’s patriotism is commemorated by a plaque at the site where her home stood, and the neighborhood still bears the name of the Murray family.
After America gained its independence from England, New York City became the nation’s capital from 1785-90, and most civic activity was concentrated in the area we know today as the Financial District. Areas like Murray Hill remained rural until the latter part of the 19th century when the city started to grow, and upscale families with carriages could afford to move away from the congestion of downtown.
One of the first to join the Murray Hill community was the famous financier J.P. Morgan, who built a beautiful brownstone mansion at Madison and 36th which is now the Morgan Library. Not to be outdone, other wealthy families constructed mansions on Fifth Avenue and side streets, many of which today serve as foreign consulates associated with the United Nations, also a major international presence in Murray Hill.
For well over a century, Murray Hill has been an established, comfortable and desirable residential neighborhood. Despite its wonderful central location, the area has managed to maintain slightly lower prices than comparable Manhattan districts. The New York Times reported that beginning in the 1990s, favorable rents were attracting less senior workers as well as the restaurants, stores, and nightlife patronized by that demographic. Housing remains a good value in Murray Hill, with 65% of housing stock comprised of rental units.
Murray Hill offers a range of housing options, from charming 19th-century brownstones to newly-opened, sweeping ultra-modern rentals like American Copper Buildings at 626 First Avenue. Other notable buildings include The Corinthian at 330 East 38th Street (which was NY’s largest apartment building in 1988), the Dylan at 309 Fifth Avenue (a certified green construction), House 39 at 225 East 39th Street, the Lanthian at 377 East 33rd Street, and One Sixty Madison.
Murray Hill combines the many wonderful qualities of charm, convenience, vitality, and affordability. With a changing population and dramatic new constructions going up, this historic neighborhood is also dynamic and full of surprises. It is definitely a neighborhood for anyone desiring a Manhattan address to consider.