Theme Week New York City – The Upper East Side

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, New York City

Fifth Avenue © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0

Fifth Avenue © flickr.com – Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0

The Upper East Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, between Central Park/Fifth Avenue, 59th Street, the East River, and 96th Street. The area incorporates several smaller neighborhoods, including Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, and Yorkville. Once known as the Silk Stocking District, it is now one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City. In the 19th century the farmland and market garden district of what was to be the Upper East Side was still traversed by the Boston Post Road and, from 1837, the New York and Harlem Railroad, which brought straggling commercial development around its one station in the neighborhood, at 86th Street, which became the heart of German Yorkville. The area was defined by the attractions of the bluff overlooking the East River, which ran without interruption from James William Beekman‘s “Mount Pleasant”, north of the marshy squalor of Turtle Bay, to Gracie Mansion, north of which the land sloped steeply to the wetlands that separated this area from the suburban village of Harlem. Among the series of villas a Schermerhorn country house overlooked the river at the foot of present-day 73rd Street and another, Peter Schermerhorn’s at 66th Street, and the Riker homestead was similarly sited at the foot of 75th Street. By the mid-19th century the farmland had largely been subdivided, with the exception of the 150 acres (61 ha) of Jones’s Wood, stretching from 66th to 76th Streets and from the Old Post Road (Third Avenue) to the river and the farmland inherited by James Lenox, who divided it into blocks of houselots in the 1870s, built his Lenox Library on a Fifth Avenue lot at the farm’s south-west corner, and donated a full square block for the Presbyterian Hospital, between 70th and 71st Streets, and Madison and Park Avenues. At that time, along the Boston Post Road taverns stood at the mile-markers, Five-Mile House at 72nd Street and Six-Mile House at 97th, a New Yorker recalled in 1893.

The fashionable future of the narrow strip between Central Park and the railroad cut was established at the outset by the nature of its entrance, in the southwest corner, north of the Vanderbilt family‘s favored stretch of Fifth Avenue from 50th to 59th Streets. A row of handsome townhouses was built on speculation by Mary Mason Jones, who owned the entire block bounded by 57th and 58th Streets and Fifth and Madison. In 1870 she occupied the prominent corner house at 57th and Fifth, though not in the isolation described by her niece, Edith Wharton, whose picture has been uncritically accepted as history, as Christopher Gray has pointed out.

It was her habit to sit in a window of her sitting room on the ground floor, as if watching calmly for life and fashion to flow northward to her solitary door… She was sure that presently the quarries, the wooden greenhouses in ragged gardens, the rocks from which goats surveyed the scene, would vanish before the advance of residences as stately as her own.
— Edith Wharton

Upper East Side Historic District © Gryffindor/cc-by-sa-3.0 Carnegie Hill - Andrew Carnegie Mansion - Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum © Jim.henderson The Pierre © Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces/cc-by-sa-3.0 Upper East Side Historic District - Former carriage house in the Lenox Hill neighborhood © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0 Upper East Side © Hornswoggle-cc-by-sa-3.0 Park Avenue © flickr.com - midweekpost/cc-by-2.0 Fifth Avenue © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0
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Upper East Side Historic District - Former carriage house in the Lenox Hill neighborhood © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0
Before the Park Avenue Tunnel was covered (finished in 1910), fashionable New Yorkers shunned the smoky railroad trench up Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue), to build stylish mansions and townhouses on the large lots along Fifth Avenue, facing Central Park, and on the adjacent side streets. The latest arrivals were the rich Pittsburghers Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. The classic phase of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue as a stretch of private mansions was not long-lasting: the first apartment house to replace a private mansion on upper Fifth Avenue was 907 Fifth Avenue (1916), at 72nd Street, the neighborhood’s grand carriage entrance to Central Park. Most members of New York’s upper-class families have made residences on the Upper East Side, including the oil-rich Rockefellers, political Roosevelts, political dynastic Kennedys, thoroughbred racing moneyed Whitneys, and tobacco and electric power fortuned Dukes.

The Upper East Side Historic District is one of New York City’s largest districts, as is the neighborhood. This district runs from 59th to 78th Streets along Fifth Avenue, and up to 3rd Avenue at some points. In the decades after the Civil War, the once decrepit district transitioned into a thriving middle-class residential neighborhood. At the start of the 20th century, the neighborhood transformed again, but this time into a neighborhood of mansions and townhouses. As the century continued, and living environments altered, a lot of these single-family homes were replaced by lavish apartment buildings. The area is host to some of the most famous museums in the world. The string of museums along Fifth Avenue fronting Central Park has been dubbed Museum Mile, running between 82nd and 105th Streets. It was once named “Millionaire’s Row”. The Upper East Side is host to a large number of schools, colleges and universities. The New York Public Library operates the 67th Street Branch Library at 328 East 67th Street, near First Avenue, the Yorkville Branch Library, 222 East 79th Street and the 96th Street Branch Library at 112 East 96th Street, near Lexington Avenue. The Upper East Side has been a setting for many films, television shows, and other media.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on NYCgo.com – Upper East Side, TownAndCountryMag.com – 12 restaurants that prove the Upper East Side is cool again, Wikivoyage Upper East Side and Wikipedia Upper East Side (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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