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Midtown West - Manhattan

What is now Midtown West is also known as Times Square/Theatre District, which was once known as Hell's Kitchen. The area used to be one of New York's darkest and scariest, overrun with gangs, prostitutes and pornography. In fact, it inspired West Side Story. But since Giuliani stepped into office, this is one of many areas of New York he has helped clean up and completely renovate.

The heart of Midtown West is Times Square. Basically, this area caters to two kinds of people: tourists and theatre-goers. Most of the restaurants are huge, over-priced chains, and the shops cater to tourists, with signs boasting "3 T-shirts for $10!" So, to be perfectly honest, this doesn't have much of a neighborhood feel to it.

But that's not to say no one lives here. In fact, since the area has been in the process of clean-up, housing is affordable-if you can stand the constant activity. Your family back in Iowa will think you're cool for living near Times Square and the MTV studios-and even those who grew up in Manhattanhave begun gravitating to this neighborhood. If you are looking for a deal, this is definitely a good place to look.

The upside is that you are in the heart of New York City's most lively area. When they talk about the hustle and bustle of New York, Midtown West is what they're referring to. There's never a dull-or quiet-moment here. Plus you can take advantage of being close to the Theatre District. You'll have no excuse for not catching that new Andrew Lloyd Webber show now.

This place is for the young and the strong. It's great if you're looking for a smack-you-in-the-face New York experience, or if you're trying to get into theater, as you're close to all your audition spots (and tons of restaurants, where you might have to work temporarily until you land your big role).

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