“I met my husband the same month I moved in,” she said. Dustin Mommen, 35, lived in London at the time, and when he moved in with her, she said, he called the neighborhood “the center of the universe.” Both can walk to work, she to her job as a high school history teacher, he to his as a hedge fund executive. Both travel frequently, she said, and they find it easy to get to Kennedy and Newark airports.
“I also feel it’s the center of the universe,” she said. “For a few years, it was really under the radar, but now there’s more development, more young families.” Their family includes a 15-month-old son, Asher, so she is happy that a park, an indoor playground and other child-friendly amenities are nearby.
The eastern end of the neighborhood is “exploding,” said Geri Epstein, a saleswoman with Halstead Property — especially along First Avenue, where one new high-rise is nearing completion, another complex just opened and at least three more towers are on the drawing boards. “This is a rejuvenation,” Ms. Epstein said. “It’s really become an up-and-coming area.”
Some longtime residents have mixed feelings. Edan Unterman, 80, is a 30-year resident and president of the East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development. His group has been trying to “restrain plans” for many years, he said, for the large waterfront tract along First Avenue that Ms. Epstein referred to, as well as smaller projects that have replaced existing structures. “We have lost every single battle,” said Mr. Unterman, a corporate attorney.
Others take a more sanguine view. Fred Arcaro, 75, a retired electrical engineer and president of the Manhattan East Community Association, has lived near First Avenue since 1989. He is hopeful that the growth will include more green spaces and other improvements.
“It’s absolutely better,” he said. “And more younger people are coming in.”
What You’ll Find
Commonly used boundaries for Murray Hill are East 34th Street to East 42nd Street and Madison Avenue to the East River. Grand Central Terminal is on the other side of 42nd Street, as is the United Nations, some of whose diplomats and workers live in the neighborhood. Part of Tudor City, an apartment complex with a distinctive architectural style, is perched atop a hilly area in the northeast corner, though some residents consider it a separate neighborhood.
The area is generally a mix of townhouses on side streets and larger buildings on the avenues. Most of the new construction is between Third and First Avenues. Several new rental buildings have gone up around Third Avenue and 39th Street. The Lindley, a 20-story condo with 74 units, is scheduled to open around Memorial Day 2018, though apartments are already being sold, said Scott Shnay, the project developer for SK Development, which is also responsible for a rental complex nearby. “The neighborhood is starting to get the attention of developers,” Mr. Shnay said.
The most striking new construction is on First Avenue. The American Copper buildings at 36th Street, built by JDS Development, are two crooked copper-clad towers, 48 and 41 stories high, connected by a three-story skybridge with a 75-foot-long lap pool. The west tower is open and the east tower will start leasing in March.
Three blocks north, a 42-story building with a black glass facade, named for its address, 685 First Avenue, is going up. The two bottom floors will contain stores and amenities, while floors 3 to 26 will be rentals expected to open by fall 2018, said Dukho Yeon, an associate partner at Richard Meier & Partners Architects, which is designing the building. The top floors, filled with condos, will open in spring 2019, he said.
The property is owned by the developer Sheldon H. Solow, who also owns empty land across the street, all part of a former Consolidated Edison site. A master plan approved in 2008 calls for three more residential buildings, one commercial building and 4.8 acres of open space on the empty lot. “I think the whole neighborhood will be transformed,” Mr. Yeon said.
What You’ll Pay
There were 208 apartments listed for sale on StreetEasy on Dec. 11, priced from $335,000 for a studio with river views on Tudor City Place to $10 million for a townhouse on East 38th Street owned by Kenneth J. Lane in the 1960s and later by Liza Minnelli.
“Murray Hill is still affordable, compared to areas like Chelsea, TriBeCa or SoHo,” said Boris Sharapan Fabrikant, a broker with Triplemint who lives in the neighborhood. “You can still get a lot for your money.”
Nevertheless, prices have gone up, Mr. Fabrikant said. His firm’s database shows a median price of $640,000 for a one-bedroom in 2012. In 2017, it was $885,000, about 38 percent higher. Two-bedroom apartments had a median sale price of $1.09 million in 2012 and $1.475 million in 2017, about a 35 percent increase.
Apartments for rent on Dec. 11 numbered 340: The lowest-priced, a studio in a co-op on East 41st Street, was $1,800 a month; the highest, a four-bedroom, three-bath apartment in a Park Avenue condo, was $25,000.
Several of the historic rowhouses on side streets were designed by Stanford White and other noted architects. The Sniffen Court Historic District on East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues is a mews where carriage houses are now residences. Cultural institutions include the Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue and Scandinavia House on Park Avenue, which offers programs and a children’s center. St. Vartan Park, which stretches from First to Second Avenues, has playgrounds and courts.
The Pod 39 Hotel offers an intriguing mix of old and new. This hip modern hotel is in a landmark building that opened in 1918 as the Allerton 39th Street House, a clubby hotel for young men.
The restaurant Salvation Taco uses the building’s rooftop, which is surrounded by terra-cotta arches, one of which “frames the Empire State Building,” said Curt Gathje, a former editor of the New York City Zagat guide who lives in Tudor City and writes a blog called Tudor City Confidential. “It’s one of the most charming places in New York.”
Public School 281 The River School opened in 2013 at 425 East 35th Street, with prekindergarten and kindergarten students. It now offers classes up through fourth grade (and will include fifth grade next year), and has about 270 students. In the 2016-2017 School Quality Snapshot, 68 percent of third-graders met state standards in English, versus 43 percent citywide; 64 percent met state math standards, versus 46 percent citywide.
P.S. 116 Mary Lindley Murray, at 210 East 33rd Street, has about 540 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. In 2016-2017, 58 percent met standards in both English and math, verses 40 percent for English citywide and 42 percent for math.
For middle school, students are zoned for J.H.S. 104 Simon Baruch, at 330 East 21st Street, which has about 1,140 students in sixth through eighth grades. In 2016-2017, 67 percent met standards in English, compared to 41 percent citywide; 68 percent met standards in math, versus 33 percent citywide.
Many residents walk to work. Grand Central Terminal, across 42nd Street, offers the Metro-North Railroad and the 4, 5, 6, 7 and S subway lines. Buses include the M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, M15, Q32, M34 and M42. Access routes to and from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel abound. The East 34th Street Heliport is at the East River and the East 34th Street ferry stop is between East 35th and 36th Streets.
In colonial times, an importer named Robert Murray and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, bought a tract that covered what is now Madison to Lexington Avenues and 33rd to 39th Streets. They called their estate Belmont, but it became known as Murray Hill. According to the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, legend has it that on Sept. 15, 1776, Mrs. Murray invited the British general William Howe and his men to have tea at Belmont, thus giving Colonial soldiers time to escape after a surprise attack on the British in nearby Kips Bay. The attack failed, but the next day, the Americans fought the British in the Battle of Harlem Heights and won.