Madison Square Park

Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy

This park defined the northern reaches of Manhattan until the island’s population exploded after the Civil War. These days it’s a much-welcome oasis from Manhattan’s relentless pace, with a popular children’s playground, dog-run area and the Shake Shack burger joint. It’s also one of the city’s most cultured parks, with specially commissioned art installations and (in the warmer months) activities ranging from literary discussions to live-music gigs. See the website for more information.

It's also the perfect spot from which to gaze up at the landmarks that surround it, including the Flatiron Building to the southwest, the Metropolitan Life Tower to the southeast and the New York Life Insurance Building, topped with a gilded spire, to the northeast.

Between 1876 and 1882 the torch-bearing arm of the Statue of Liberty was on display here, and in 1879 the first Madison Square Garden arena was constructed at Madison Ave and 26th St. At the southeastern corner of the park, you’ll find one of the city’s few self-cleaning, coin-operated toilets (25¢).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy attractions

1. Metropolitan Life Tower

0.07 MILES

Completed in 1909, this 700ft-high clock tower soaring above Madison Square Park’s southeastern corner is the work of Napoleon LeBrun, a Philadelphia-born…

2. Flatiron Building

0.11 MILES

Designed by Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, the 20-story Flatiron Building has a narrow triangular footprint that resembles the prow of a massive ship…

3. Museum of Sex

0.15 MILES

Get the lowdown on anything from online fetishes to stag films to homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck at this slick ode to all things hot and…

4. Lord & Taylor Building

0.23 MILES

On the southwestern corner of Broadway and E 20th St stands the old Lord & Taylor Building, former home of the famous Midtown department store (now a…

5. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

0.24 MILES

This National Historic Site is a bit of a cheat, since the physical house where the 26th president was actually born was demolished in his own lifetime…

6. National Arts Club


Founded in 1898 to promote public interest in the arts, the National Arts Club holds art exhibitions, with free admission to the public during weekdays;…

7. Gramercy Park

0.31 MILES

Romantic Gramercy Park was created by Samuel Ruggles in 1831 after he drained the area’s swamp and laid out streets in an English style. You can’t enter…

8. Union Square Greenmarket


Don’t be surprised if you spot some of New York’s top chefs prodding the produce here: Union Square’s green market is arguably the city’s most famous…