Close-Up on Murray Hill

Community Groups: The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association is a small but active group of locals who maintain the area greenery by keeping tree support hoops sturdy and planting flowers in the Park Avenue median. The group's Ivy League maintains the area ivy beds. Community Board 6 includes several residents and takes neighborhood issues to City Council.

Famous Residents: Celebs seem to steer clear of this decidedly unhip area. "It's a wasteland," says Michael Musto. Well, except it seems to be a quiet haven for gossip columnists such as himself and Liz Smith. Could they be why the glitterati stay away?

Best Restaurants: Murray Hill's first hot spot since Icon and Cherry at the W Court Hotel were in style, Kalustyan's Café (115 Lexington Avenue, 212-686-5400) opened modestly last winter (the chef is a longtime spice shop owner and recent graduate of the French Culinary Institute, as can be ascertained by the influence of French seasoning in the menu) to glowing reviews and is sure to thrive on Lexington Avenue. It's across from the well-known Curry in a Hurry (119 Lexington Avenue, 212-683-0900), where $5 will fill your stomach twice over. A host of upscale business lunch joints populate Murray Hill's north side, including Bull & Bear (301 Park Avenue, 212-872-4900), the notorious steakhouse in the Waldorf-Astoria. Asia de Cuba (237 Madison Avenue, 212-726-7755) at the Morgans Hotel on Madison will satisfy the most demanding date with some of the best fusion food in Manhattan.

Well-to-do brownstones in Murray Hill
photo: Holly Northrop/
Well-to-do brownstones in Murray Hill

Best Bars: For nightlife, Park Avenue's the best, with the swank W and Kitano hotels (W the Tuscany, 120 East 39th Street, 212-686-1600; W the Court, 130 East 39th Street, 212-685-1100; Kitano, 66 Park Avenue, 212-885-7000), which all have bars that won't disappoint. Happy hour, however, should be had on Third Avenue, at one of the many frat-house-style Irish pubs.

Happenings: Annual Murray Hill block party in spring, hosted by the neighborhood association.

Politicians: Councilmembers Eva S. Moskowitz and Margarita Lopez, state assembly members Jonathan L. Bing and Richard N. Gottfried, State Senator Liz Krueger, and U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney. All Democrats.

Crime Stats: Rape has increased the most in the 14th Precinct (which covers the area east of Lexington from 30th to 59th) over the past few years. Nineteen rapes have occurred this year prior to October 3, compared to just nine last year. All other crimes are holding steady or down; the most dramatically decreased are burglary and robbery (456 and 244 this year respectively), both down by roughly 25 percent since last year. The easternmost sliver of Murray Hill is covered by police in the 17th Precinct and sees significantly less crime than the 14th Precinct. It averages zero or one murders and roughly six rapes per year, and has documented 1,210 crimes total this year compared to 3,416 in the 14th Precinct. Good news: Even the more dangerous eastern part of Murray Hill seems to get safer each year. This year, crime is down 9 percent; since 2002, it's down 14.17 percent and since 2001, down 24 percent.

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