One of the best things about Manhattan is the grid, a constant reminder of logic and order in a city which is otherwise filled with questionable logic and a lack of order. But it's always been a bit troublesome trying to pin down what side Fifth Avenue, the dividing line between the
Biggie East and Tupac West sides, is on. And now, the confusion over that dividing line has gone too far for one eagle-eyed borough president!
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer noticed the perplexing signage on bus stops along Fifth Avenue extending from 110th to 59th Street: “The DOT has placed bus signs on the west side of Fifth Avenue along Central Park that indicate West side street addresses--but these are non-existent streets which do not actually appear until you’re standing on the other side of Central Park,” Stringer said in a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, asking the DOT to immediately remove the misleading signs.
The signs technically do sit on the west side of Fifth Avenue, so they could be considered in the western zone of the street grid. But, Stringer notes that West 60th to 109th streets were demapped between Fifth and Eighth Avenues in the 19th century—so legally, there is no street with a “West” prefix along Fifth Ave. for the length of the park. Moreover, on the MTA bus schedule online, they don't list E or W next to the streets on those parts of those Fifth Avenue routes.
The debate has caused people to question exactly which side of the city Fifth Avenue, and Central Park, should be considered a part of. "I never thought of Central Park as being on the West Side. I guess technically it is,” said historian Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City. “It might lead to some confusion or ambiguity, but technically, the signs are probably right. In all these years, I never even thought about it, or was ever asked about it,” said Manhattan’s official borough historian, Michael Miscione.
“Why would a sign in the city say Fifth Avenue and West 80th if you’re on the East Side? I got all confused,” said tourist Diana Edwards to CBS. Vulture nails it with their closing salvo: "It's like the New York version of the struggle for the Holy Land, except instead of Jews on one side and Arabs on the other, both sides are Jews."