What's the difference between NYC and Manhattan? In this article we will dive right into the answer to this question.

What’s the Difference Between NYC and Manhattan?

Are you wondering what the difference between NYC and Manhattan is? If you’ve never been to New York City before, this is a very legitimate question.

In this post, I will answer this question for you along with many other questions you might have about Manhattan and New York City.

What’s the Difference Between NYC and Manhattan?

Let’s dive directly into the answer to the question, “What’s the difference between NYC and Manhattan?”

New York City consists of 5 boroughs. What is a borough? A borough is a town that has its own government.

The 5 boroughs of NYC are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. I’m sure you’ve heard of most of these!

So, the answer to this question is….. Manhattan is one of the 5 boroughs of New York City.

Map of New York City’s Boroughs

To get a visual picture of where Manhattan is in relation to New York City’s other boroughs, I have included this handy map with all 5 boroughs marked. (You can click on it to zoom in and around!)

What's the difference between NYC and Manhattan? This map shows you the five boroughs of New York City.
Map of New York City’s 5 Boroughs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Manhattan

Now that you know what the difference between NYC and Manhattan is, here are some other questions you might have about the bustling city of Manhattan.

Why Is NYC also called Manhattan?

NYC is also called Manhattan because Manhattan is a borough of NYC. It is also what most people think of when they think of New York City.

Manhattan is where most of the major tourist attractions in NYC are such as Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the Broadway Theatres.

Why Is Manhattan So Famous?

Manhattan is famous for its skyscrapers, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway Shows, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and much, much more. It’s also been the location of many movies and television shows.

What's the difference between NYC and Manhattan? Times Square is located in the bustling borough of Manhattan. Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of NYC.
My husband and I in Times Square.

Manhattan is also one of the major financial, commercial, cultural, and fashion capitals of the world.

Because of this Manhattan is the most famous and visited borough of New York City.

▶Check out my guide, 35 Amazing Things to Do in NYC with Kids for an Epic Family Vacation for lots of fun things to do in NYC.

Is Manhattan an Island?

You might have heard before that Manhattan is an island, but is it true? The answer to this is yes, Manhattan is indeed an island.

It’s an island because it is surrounded by water on ALL sides.

What water is this, you ask? Manhattan is surrounded by three rivers, the Hudson River (to the west), the East River( to the east), and the Harlem River (to the northeast.)

The Harlem River is what separates Manhattan from The Bronx.

Click on the above map again to take a look at the three rivers that surround Manhattan. (That is, if you are a geography nerd like me. 😆)

How Long is Manhattan?

If you take another look at the map above, you’ll see that Manhattan is long but narrow. Manhattan is approximately 13 miles long, but only 2.3 miles wide at its widest point. This is measured from the very south at Battery Park to the very north at Fort Tryon Park.

Fun Activity While in Manhattan: A fun activity for the adventurous ones. Walk the whole length of Manhattan island from start to finish all in one day. How cool would it be to say you did this?!

Is Manhattan Bigger than Brooklyn?

Manhattan is not bigger than Brooklyn. In fact, Manhattan is the smallest of all five boroughs at approximately twenty-three square miles.

The population size of Manhattan though is approximately 1.6 million people. That’s a lot of people living in such a small space.

The Other Boroughs in NYC

So now that you know all about Manhattan, let’s talk about the other four boroughs in New York City.


Brooklyn is the most populated of NYC’s boroughs with approximately 2.6 million people. It’s the second biggest borough by land size at 69.5 square miles.

Brooklyn is home to Coney Island, Prospect Park, and the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Really though, the Brooklyn Bridge is the bridge over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous attractions in all of NYC. If in NYC, you must walk this bridge from the borough of Manhattan to the borough of Queens or vice versa.

My family walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a very cold, windy day.
My family walking the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn on a very cold, windy day.


Queens is the next most populated borough after Brooklyn. It has approximately 2.4 million people that live here. Queens is the largest borough by land size at 108 square miles.

Ever seen the show King of Queens starring Kevin James and Leah Remini? That’s what I think of every time I hear of Queens.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the largest attraction in Queens. It features the Queens Botanical Garden, New York Hall of Science, Queens Zoo, Queens Museum, and Citi Field (home of the New York Mets). People like to spend time in this park walking, biking, and boating.

The main attraction and most common picture you’ll see taken here at Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the Unisphere. It’s a 140-foot-high stainless steel representation of Earth.

The Unisphere is a well recognized image of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Bronx

The Bronx is the northernmost borough of NYC. It has approximately 1.5 million people that live here. Its land area is 42 square miles.

It’s known for the iconic Yankee Stadium, The Bronx Zoo, and the beautiful New York Botanical Gardens.

Staten Island

Staten Island is the southernmost of NYC’s 5 boroughs. It has the smallest population size of all 5 boroughs with only 475,000 people. Its land area covers 59 square miles.

It’s most known for its green park spaces. In fact, it is often called the “borough of parks” because of its numerous parks.

Fun Fact: Staten Island has a higher percentage of Italian Americans than any other county in the U.S. About 36 percent of the residents of Staten Island have Italian origin.

Conclusion: Difference Between NYC and Manhattan

I hope you have enjoyed my post What’s the Difference between NYC and Manhattan?

I hope you leave here with lots of knowledge of NYC and its 5 boroughs.

New York City is truly one of the best cities in the world. I know it’s definitely one of my favorites. Have I inspired you to go to NYC now?!