Bracketed on its east and west borders by massive city parks, the Upper West Side (UWS) is known for its greenery, stately and elegant townhomes, safe streets and great schools, all of which make it a very desirable neighborhood for families. The UWS has maintained its community feeling, making it attractive to young professionals and retirees, both of whom want a sense of belonging in the place they call home.
Here you’ll find many apartment buildings, especially those along Central Park West. Historic architecture abounds, anchored by four luxury co-ops - the San Remo, Majestic, Century and Eldorado apartments - all of which have two towers on their interiors. They were built in the 1930s and their design was predicated on a 1929 building code that imposed a height limit on residences facing the street. There are also impressive row houses near Riverside Drive throughout the W 70 and 80 Streets. Above the 90s, you will find smaller buildings where walk-ups are very reasonably priced.
There are several world-class museums and venues dedicated to the performing arts. Plentiful dining can be found in the UWS. You will find everything from quaint Jewish delis serving up bagels and a schmear to sophisticated fine dining that has earned multiple Michelin stars, and everything you could possibly want in between. There is also abundant shopping and a vibrant nightlife.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Built by John D. Rockefeller III in 1955, Lincoln Center always has a full schedule of incredible performances, whether they be opera, theater, dance, or films. The venue is the home of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. Located at 10 Lincoln Center Plaza.
American Museum of Natural History. Where else can you see dinosaurs and a 94-foot blue whale? You will also find fascinating dioramas of animals and people throughout evolutionary ages. In addition, the museum contains the unusual, state-of-the-art Hayden Planetarium, which is housed in the upper half of an 87-foot-diameter sphere that appears to float, weightlessly, inside a cube of glass. Located on Central Park West at 79th Street.
Jacob’s Pickles. Brunch in the city - what could be better? Nobody does brunch better than Southerners, y’all. At Jacob’s Pickles, you will be treated to real Southern comfort food, served up with ingredients from local sources. Fluffy biscuits are a Southern hallmark, and pickles are a close second. Ever tried a fried pickle? Yep, they have them! You’ll also find grits - great with shrimp and bacon. The biscuit French toast with strawberries is a vegetarian’s dream. Well worth a visit, or two! Located at 509 Amsterdam Avenue.
Barney Greengrass. When it’s time for a breakfast nosh, stop in Barney Greengrass for some legendary smoked sturgeon, which they have been slicing to the delight of Upper West Side residents since 1929, although it originally opened in Harlem in 1908. Their fish is so good that Alfred Hitchcock was a devotee, frequently ordering ten pound shipments to Hollywood. Go early on the weekends and be prepared for the long lines. Located at 541 Amsterdam Avenue.
Levain Bakery. Now that you’ve had a savory breakfast, take the hike down Amsterdam Avenue to W 74th Street and treat yourself to what have been described as both the biggest and best cookies in the city. Four cookie varieties are on offer, along with various other baked goods. Located at 167 W 74th Street.
79th Street Greenmarket. Open every Sunday, this market offers organic, farm-raised food, such as fresh produce, meat, poultry, grains, fruits, breads, preserves, baked goods, and flowers at reasonable prices. There may also be local artisans with handmade goods, jewelry and home decor items for sale. Located at Columbus Avenue, from 78th to 81st Streets.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center. Would Tony Bennett steer you wrong? He says it is “the best jazz room in the City.” There are jazz performances nearly every weeknight, and affordable, casual late-night sessions with up-and-coming musicians. Sumptuous soul food is on the menu and the stage backdrop, the city skyline and Central Park, can’t be beat. Located on the 5th floor of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.
What You Might See
Strollers abound throughout the Upper West Side! No, not necessarily baby strollers, although there are plenty of families with young children here. These strollers are just out for a casual saunter through the neighborhood, which is very walkable on the tree-lined side streets. At just about any time of the day, you will find people out and about, walking their dogs, running errands or just getting some fresh air and exercise.
What’s In The Future
As older structures are demolished, or vacant lots come on the market, new construction is getting underway. A concerted effort is being made by the NYCHA to ensure that some portion of new buildings are devoted to affordable housing, while the bulk of the new residential properties will be rented or sold at market rates.
What You Might Not Know
Every April, the The West Side Community Garden, located on W 89th and 90th Streets between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, holds a Tulip Festival that displays over 15,000 tulips. This garden is run by a group of volunteers. You can get in on the act by helping to plant bulbs each November.
The Ansonia, at 2109 Broadway, was the scene of the Black Sox Scandal. In 1919, members of the Chicago White Sox team met there and plotted with gambling kingpins to throw the World Series that year, when they played against the Cincinnati Reds. Eight White Sox players were put on trial in 1921, but were acquitted on all charges after all records of their confessions of guilt to a grand jury mysteriously disappeared. Regardless, the newly-appointed first commissioner of baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, permanently banned all eight from ever again playing organized baseball.
On W 95th Street, hidden behind an iron gate, you will find a tiny, block-long Tudor village, incongruous amongst the brownstones of the Upper West Side. It is called Pomander Walk, and it looks like it has been transported directly from England, including flower boxes, antique street lamps and neatly trimmed shrubbery. Only residents are allowed to enter this time capsule, which was built in 1921.
What We Love
Tree-lined streets, beautiful apartment buildings, and a family-friendly neighborhoods make the Upper West Side a very desirable place to call home. The abundant green spaces, including major parks, seem to slow down the pace of living, giving a sense of isolation from the chaos of big city life. The variety of dining experiences. convenient shopping, and cultural centers and museums create a lifestyle that is exciting, yet has a familiar, homey feeling.