Written by Leek Duck, a NYC based Pokémon GO Trainer. Do check out his blog for more tips and tricks about playing Pokémon GO in NYC.
So, you might already know about New York. But let me remind you. We’re home to the Vaporeon sprinters, Mewtwo victors, and Pikachu chasers. We’re known as the greatest city in the world but our trainers are like any other. We are collectors, competitive battlers, and egg hatchers. This city is just our Pallet Town. If you’re looking to visit, here’s what you need to know.
Empire State of Mind
Before any Pokemon adventure, you must be prepared. Luckily the streets of New York City are paved with items. It’s important to stock up on Pokeballs while you can because places like Central Park don’t have a lot of stops. The last thing you want to happen is scavenging for Pokeballs when a rare Pokemon appears.
Pop a lucky egg and go on a Pokestop spinning spree. New, unique Pokestops spins grant 500 experience with a Lucky Egg.
Be aware of your surroundings and take care crossing streets while playing Pokemon Go. New Yorkers move quickly and will not hesitate to cut past you if you are holding them up. I recommend that you forgo any headphones while playing as it can be a distraction. However if you are in Central Park, this recommendation is more relaxed.
Depending on your hardware and wireless provider, you might have trouble maintaining a stable connection. The high rises in New York are known to interfere with your connection. If this happens, simply keep moving or consider playing in Central Park.
They say you haven’t really visited New York until you’ve experienced the subway. Despite all of the subway’s shortcomings like train delays and cleanliness, it remains the best way to get around.
At the time of writing this piece, a single fare is $2.75. Riding the subway requires a ‘MetroCard’ that you use to swipe at a turnstile to access the platform. You can refill and buy rides in bulk at a kiosk.
Here’s the general advice for the New York City subway system. If you are having trouble swiping your MetroCard, don’t be embarrassed. It’s not easy and New Yorkers who make it look easy will have had hundreds of swipes under their belt. Just ask someone to help out.
Subway lines are referred to as their letter or number and not their color. Trains with the same color will not necessarily go to the same places. For example a M train is considered a ‘Local’ train and will make every stop while a F train is considered ‘Express’ and will skip stops along the way. If you are confused as to what direction a train is going, you can look at the black sign above a platform to tell you.
Finally, if you need help with directions, feel free to ask either the clerks or even strangers. New Yorkers love to give directions. (To the New Yorkers who don’t like giving directions, sorry.)
Grand Army Plaza
Grand Army Plaza is the epicenter of Pokemon Go in New York City. When the game was first released in the summer of 2016, hundreds of players swarmed the plaza’s four lured Pokestops. Trainers of all ages would come sit under the tacky gold statue and flick Pokeballs for hours. Those that came on their lunch break would struggle to find a place to even stand. Outsiders would point towards the plaza and exclaim, “They’re playing that Pokemon Go game”. The other outsider would exclaim, “That’s crazy”, with her head sandwiched between her hands.
Grand Army Plaza (also known as GAP) is located on the southern part of Central Park in Manhattan. It is often mistaken for the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn or the American clothing retailer. Currently, the plaza lost one of the Pokestops and it has been re-purposed as a gym. You can take a seat on the comfortable steps under the statue, restock your bag, and watch rare and uncommon Pokemon appear in front of you. It a good place to recharge your mind, your body, and your phone (provided you have a battery).
Central Park is home to the city’s largest Pokemon nest. It’s previous inhabitants include Electabuzz, Chikorita and Kabuto. The park spans for 51 city blocks for a total of 2.5 miles (That’s 4 kilometers for our metric system friends.) I could say that the park has the most Pokestops of any park in the city but that would misleading. Central Park’s PokéStop density pales in comparison to the surrounding city blocks. In other words, if you are looking to stock up on items, you are better off scouring the streets.
The park contains several water biomes. Some of these are plainly named “The Pond”, “The Lake”, and the “Jacqueline Kennedy Onasiss Reservoir” (aka The Reservoir). If you’re looking for some candies to top off your Gyarados then these are the places to go. Water biomes also will occasionally spawn Dratini so look out for them on your tracker. Water biomes in the park commonly spawn Poliwag, Slowbro, Goldeen, Staryu, Marill, and Chinchou.
The park in it’s entirety is a park biome so you are going to see the typical park biome Pokemon. This includes grass and bug type Pokemon like Bellsprout, Paras, Caterpie, Exeggcute, Chikorita, and Hoppip. Eevee is also known for showing up more often in park biomes.
In addition to the entire Central Park nest, there are two verified nests within and near Central Park. They are at “The Dene” near the Central Park Zoo and at the American Museum of Natural History. The Dene has previously been home to Misdreavus and Girafrig. The Natural History Museum had been home to Charmander for several migrations. Check the Silph Road Nest Atlas for their current inhabitants.
Central Park is a excellent place to take a careless stroll hunting for Pokemon while also getting away from the traffic and noise of the city. There is plenty to see on the way ranging from the scenic landscapes to the historical landmarks and structures. It makes for an ideal conclusion for they day’s Pokemon adventure.
Bryant Park has all the characteristics of a great Pokemon hotspot. It features a cluster of Pokestops that can all be spun in one place. The park itself has a fair sized nest which has been home to Bulbasuar, Jigglypuff and Mankey in previous migrations. Trainers can loop around the park to restock on items while also hunting for Pokemon that have migrated there. The open lawn in the center of the park is ideal for taking a breather from Pokemon and tossing around a frisbee with friends.
Bryant park is a park biome that will see an uptick in grass and bug Pokemon. Alongside those is the Pokemon that have taken home in the park during the current migration. Trainers should note the library that is next to the park is not consider part of the park biome. In other words, you’re not going to find any nest Pokemon there.
The northern corner of the park near the HBO building is where the cluster of Pokestops are. I’m actually not sure where to comfortably stand to play here. However one option is to play in the subway station if it happens to be a miserable day out. If you pay to get in the subway station near the HBO building, you can play on the benches after the turnstiles. The subway also has a stable WiFi connection to play on. However, theres so much to see, it would be a waste spend an afternoon underground.
Bryant Park is a solid hotspot to visit to play Pokemon Go and remains a popular location for local players. The park itself offers things to do year round including pop-up shops, unique snacks, and a carousel. In addition to the parks’s shops, the Kinokuniya bookstore and the Muji flagship store opposite the park are my favorite places to browse when I’m near. If historical buildings are more your taste, the New York Public Library is a sight to behold. Definitely check it out.
So there are a few other good places but I’m not going in depth on them. The pier near the Interprid is a popular place to go catch Magikarp and the occasional Dratini. Riverside Park features two different nest. There might be something interesting to check out that week. Outside of those two places, there isn’t a shortage of Pokemon in the city. You could walk in any direction in the city grid and be on your way to an adventure.
If you’re looking to visit, try and find the local Facebook group and subreddit beforehand. They will be glad to provide you with any information and you anything you need to know. If you have any questions, you can also leave a comment below.
If you want to read a bit of the history of some of these places, check my resource at Leek Duck.