East vs West Battle on 5th Avenue

03.23.11 Bucky Turco

Manhattan’s official east-west diving line, 5th Avenue, a byproduct of the city’s revolutionary street grid, is causing some confusion, hundreds of years later. Bus and street signs along the fancy corridor don’t seem to vibe. The New York Times’ caption reports:

“Conflicting information on the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue. The street sign indicates that the street is East 78th. The bus stop sign, though, says it is West 78th.”

And so, a controversy was born.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wants the signs fixed, which is now more expensive than ever, and fired off a “stern note” to the DOT, creating an improbable debate about the east-west border, which can’t be more distinct. Anything west of 5th Avenue is “west,” anything east of 5th Avenue is “east.” So the street sign is wrong for sure. As for the bus sign, it’s probably not wise to call that location West 78th, even if it’s on the west side of 5th Avenue: West 78th Street officially begins on the other side of the park. Anyway, debate settled, moving on.