Although considered to be the less pretentious neighborhood unlike its contemporary (the Upper East Side), the Upper West Side is still considered an affluent area of Manhattan. The Upper West Side’s reputation lies in being the place where culture, intellectuals, and artists merge. This neighborhood is in the borough of Manhattan, nestled between Central Park and Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 110th Street. We are well acquainted with the Upper West Side as that is where our primary offices are located.
Development Of The Upper West Side
The Upper West Side we now know as being surrounded by Central Park on the east and Hudson River on the west was settled by Dutch immigrants in the early and mid-seventeenth century. Some highlights of the development of the area from the early mid-seventeenth century to early twentieth century include:
- The Bloomingdale District that referred to the Upper West Side which is now Manhattan Valley neighborhood.
- The Hudson River Railroad line right of way was allowed in the late 1830s in order to connect New York City to Albany.
- In the 1850s and 1860s, Central Park was created and led to numerous squatters to move their temporary homes into the Upper West Side.
- Development of the neighborhood was expedited when Ninth Avenue was introduced in the 1870s, later renamed to Columbus Avenue in 1890, and with Columbia University relocating to Morning Side Heights in the 1890s.
- Riverside Park was created and approved by the state legislature in 1866.
- 1885 to 1910 there was a building boom due to the opening of the city’s first subway line in 1904.
- 1960s the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened.
- A new influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Caribbean moved into the neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s.
Upper West Side Demographics
In the 1960s the south area of 67th Street was densely populated by African-Americans. By 1960, this side of the neighborhood was considered run down and overcrowded and due to be demolished. Demolition of this area brought on urban renewal that saw the construction of the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts and Lincoln Towers from 1962-1968.
The turn of the last century saw the neighborhood acquire a large number of German Jews and Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler’s tyranny in the 1930s. To date, 85th Street and 100th Street houses the largest society of young Modern Orthodox singles outside of Israel. Aside from this section, the Upper West Side generally has a large number of non-Orthodox Jews, and because of that, there are a lot of principal synagogues in this neighborhood.
To date the latest population estimates state that 209,084 people live on the Upper West Side with a breakdown of 67.4% of white or non-Hispanic people, 15% Hispanic people, 7.6% African Americans, 7.6% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.1% American Indian or Native Alaskan, 0.3% some other race and 2% two or more races.
A Mix Of Culture, Education & Art
The Upper West Side has gained a reputation for being a place where you can find many cultural, artsy, and educational New York City structures. Some of these structures are as follows:
1. American Museum of Natural History:
The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and is well known for its exhibitions and scientific collections. Visitors can see dinosaurs and ocean life, African mammals as well as seasonal butterfly exhibitions.
2. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts:
Known as the cornerstone of New York City culture, the center has a campus of 11 organizations centered on dance, music, and theater. Numerous performances are brought to life each year at the center, if you cannot see one of the performances, you can take advantage of the guided tours of the Lincoln Center.
3. Julliard School:
Julliard was originally called the Institute of Musical Art when it was founded in 1905. Julliard is a well known performing arts school and is seen as one of the world’s leading music schools with an inventory of 275 Steinway pianos, making it the largest collection of any institution in the world.
Find out more about the neighborhood’s attractions here.
Upper West Side Cemented In Pop Culture
The Upper West Side has served as the setting or backdrop for numerous T.V. shows and movies due to its pre-War architecture, colorfulness, and lush culture. Some popular T.V. show and movie and characters that have lived in the neighborhood include:
- Liz Lemon from 30 Rock lived in the neighborhood.
- Jerry from Seinfeld lived there as a character and in real life.
- Woody Allen’s film, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), highlighted the neighborhood with Hannah’s parents shown living in an apartment on Riverside and 86th Street.
- Home Alone 2: Lost In New York City (1992), happens in Central Park as well as in a townhouse on 95th Street.
- Hitch (2005), the popular movie featuring Will Smith, has his character, Hitch leaving an 856 West End Avenue, 102nd Street, apartment building.
- West Side Story (1961), the movie takes place in the aforementioned run-down apartments where Lincoln Center stands today around 66th Street.
- How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby’s character had an apartment on the Upper West Side at 150 W. 85th Street.
- Madmen characters, Peggy and Abe lived in an apartment on the Upper West Side.
- Will & Grace, Will lived in an apartment on 155 Riverside Drive.
How To Get There
There are two subways designated to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue (1, 2, 3 trains) runs along Broadway. The other line is the IND Eighth Avenue Line (A, B, C, D trains) which runs along Central Park West.
If you are using the bus service there are five routes to choose from, the M5, M7, M10, M11, and M104.
As with any case, if anything happens to you or someone you know in the Upper West Side, the emergency information for the police and hospitals are as follows:
638 Columbus Ave, at 91st Street
New York, NY 10024
630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
120 West 82nd Street
New York, NY 10024-5502