The attack happened around 11:30 p.m. on West 123 Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Boulevard in Harlem, police said.
The unidentified male walked up to a 43-year-old woman from behind and punched her in the head, knocking her to the ground, according to investigators.
The suspect allegedly kicked the victim in her head and body repeatedly before dragging her between two parked cars and forcibly removing her clothes. He then attempted to rape her, police said.
The woman suffered severe head trauma and was rushed to NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, where she remains in critical condition.
The suspect fled the scene and remains on the loose.
Investigators released surveillance video showing the suspect appearing to remove a blue rubber glove as he walks on a sidewalk near where the alleged attack took place.
Police described the suspect as a male in his 40s, standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a dark complexion and a stocky build.
He was last seen wearing a dark green baseball hat, a black face mask, a white hooded sweatshirt with colorful designs and red lettering on the front, black pants, black shoes and blue rubber gloves, police said.
Authorities asked anyone with information about the suspect or the incident to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).