We took the AMTRAK railway from Philadelphia to NYC. Emerging from Penn Station to ground level is like jumping into a river that is a raging torrent of people. We lined up (of course) for a taxi, jumped in and after 5.3 miles through the guts of NYC arrived at our hotel. It's probably the best $15 I've ever spent! (plus tip). The cabbie spoke to someone in what I presume was Arabic the whole way and had a deft touch on the horn, only honking when all else failed!
Our room wasn't ready but we left our bags and explored the 'hood' which actually seems quite nice. Came back 2 hrs later and checked in. It was quite a lot like checking into a hotel room in Paris - small room, wooden floor boards and water heater - that isn't activated until ambient temp of 50F prevails. However, the flat screen TV and 'fridge are good. This is the same hotel that Mrs Tarsnake's work colleague Lynne-Marie stayed at back in Feb. Gavin, we sussed Nicks hamburger joint for breakfast as you recommended.
We bought a weekly ticket for the subway each and headed downtown to Broadway. Mrs Tarsnakes is much more relaxed with subterranean travel than I. we surfaced at 50th St and explored for a good while until it started getting quite chilly.
Halloween or protest - we couldn't tell. Silly me, of course it's a Zombie Walk!