A Tourist's Guide to the TCS New York City Marathon

The start of the NYC Marathon with the city skyline in the background
On Sunday, November 3, more than 50,000 runners from all 50 states and 129 countries will take a 26.2-mile tour of the city during the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon, seeing the best of what the city has to offer.

If you’re one of them, you will see more of the city than what’s in the movies and guidebooks. The marathon route will show you the New York that its residents know and love, beyond the world-famous landmarks (though you’ll get to glimpse a few of those, too!).

The view of southern Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry.
New York Harbor

One of the ways to get to the start village on Staten Island is by crossing New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry. As you pull away from the dock, look back as the Lower Manhattan skyline comes into view, offering a scene that has been a symbol of the city and country for hundreds of years. You will also see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and One World Trade Center in the early morning light on your journey.

Runners crossing over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
The first two miles of the marathon course take you over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. The bridge is closed to pedestrians except for one day of the year—the first Sunday in November. So this is your chance to cross it on foot and take in the stunning views of the breathtaking tour of New York ahead of you.

Runners racing past the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Barclays Center
At mile 8, you’ll be deep in Brooklyn, home to many renowned landmarks. The Barclays Center, located just off the course on Atlantic Avenue, opened its doors in 2012. It’s the home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and has hosted some of music’s most legendary performers including Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones, and Elton John.

Runners racing past the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower
Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower
Close to the Barclays Center sits the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower. This tower opened in 1929 and was the tallest building in the borough until 2010. It is also one of the tallest four-sided clock towers in the world, and its clock face is a massive 17 feet wide.

Runners racing in front of the Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Brooklyn Academy of Music
As runners turn right onto Lafayette Avenue, they’ll see the Brooklyn Academy of Music building, which first opened in 1908 and is renowned for its progressive and avant-garde contributions to the arts. The academy offers 75 free performances a year, and the building is a beautiful reminder of the borough’s artistic heritage.

The Empire State Building as seen from mile 13.1.
Empire State Building
A building which needs no introduction, the Empire State Building is visible in its Manhattan home as runners cross the halfway mark of the race along the Pulaski Bridge, crossing from Brooklyn into Queens. Look to your left to view the world’s most famous office building in all its glory, sitting along other landmarks such as the Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for nearly 40 years after its opening in 1931.

Runners racing in front of brownstone townhouses.
New York’s Neighborhoods
From Brooklyn brownstones to the diversity of Queens to the industrial shorelines of the Bronx and more, the marathon course lets you experience a wide range of New York City neighborhoods. Away from the tourist-trodden paths, the real New York is on display.

Runners in the lower section of the Queensboro Bridge
Queensboro Bridge

This beautiful 100-year-old bridge links Queens to Manhattan from mile 15 to 16. It is notable for being eerily quiet, a moment of calm before entering the loudest section of the marathon along 1st Avenue in Manhattan. From the bridge, you can hear a wall of sound created by thousands of spectators who gather in Manhattan to cheer you on.

An arial view of 5th Avenue looking south.
5th Avenue/Central Park

After a quick tour of the Bronx, the course take runners down 5th Avenue, passing through Harlem (including Marcus Garvey Park), then alongside Central Park on the right and museums and stately residences on the left. The route continues south in Central Park—perhaps the most famous urban park in the world—behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan soaring ahead.

Columbus Circle
Columbus Circle/Finish

At the end of mile 25, you exit the park and race toward Columbus Circle. A cultural and geographical center of the city, Columbus Circle is where old meets new. Buildings from the early 1900s abut modern construction such as the Time Warner Center. Running through this circle is like running through a time lapse of the city.

Runners racing past the world flags in Central Park
Central Park Encore
You’ll re-enter Central Park and head to the finish line at Tavern on the Green. Hundreds of flags line this final stretch, a reminder of what a global event the TCS New York City Marathon has become. As you approach the finish line, you’ll pass grandstands packed with people cheering you on. Finally, you will cross the finish line and receive your medal. You are no longer just a tourist; you have conquered New York.  


Author: Katie Manzi

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