The Upper West Side in New York

Friday, 29 September 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, New York City
Reading Time:  15 minutes

Upper West Side and Central Park from Rockefeller Center Observatory © Nmattson10

Upper West Side and Central Park from Rockefeller Center Observatory © Nmattson10

The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 110th Street. The Upper West Side is sometimes also considered by the real estate industry to include the neighborhood of Morningside Heights. The area north of West 96th Street and east of Broadway is also identified as Manhattan Valley. The overlapping area west of Amsterdam Avenue to Riverside Park was once known as the Bloomingdale District. From west to east, the avenues of the Upper West Side are Riverside Drive, West End Avenue (11th Avenue), Broadway, Amsterdam Avenue (10th Avenue), Columbus Avenue (9th Avenue), and Central Park West (8th Avenue). The 66-block stretch of Broadway forms the spine of the neighborhood and runs diagonally north/south across the other avenues at the south end of the neighborhood; above 78th Street Broadway runs north parallel to the other avenues. Broadway enters the neighborhood at its juncture with Central Park West at Columbus Circle (59th Street), crosses Columbus Avenue at Lincoln Square (65th Street), Amsterdam Avenue at Verdi Square (71st Street), and then merges with West End Avenue at Straus Park (aka Bloomingdale Square, at 107th Street). Traditionally the neighborhood ranged from the former village of Harsenville, centered on the old Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and 65th Street, west to the railroad yards along the Hudson, then north to 110th Street, where the ground rises to Morningside Heights. With the building of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, its name, though perhaps not the reality, was stretched south to 58th Street. With the arrival of the corporate headquarters and expensive condos of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, and the Riverside South apartment complex, the area from 58th Street to 65th Street is increasingly referred to as Lincoln Square by realtors who acknowledge a different tone and ambiance than that typically associated with the Upper West Side. This is a reversion to the neighborhood’s historical name. Like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is an affluent, primarily residential area with many of its residents working in commercial areas of Midtown and Lower Manhattan. It has the reputation of being New York City’s cultural and intellectual hub, with Columbia University located at the north end of the neighborhood, and artistic workers, with Lincoln Center located at the south end. Conversely, the Upper East Side is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types. Both Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue from 67th Street up to 110th Street are lined with restaurants and bars, as is Columbus Avenue to a slightly lesser extent. The Upper West Side, along with the Upper East Side, is considered to be among New York City’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

The name “Bloomingdale District” was used to refer to a part of the Upper West Side – the present-day Manhattan Valley neighborhood – located between 96th and 110th Streets and bounded on the east by Amsterdam Avenue and on the west by Riverside Drive, Riverside Park, and the Hudson River. Its name was a derivation of the description given to the area by Dutch settlers to New Netherland, likely from Bloemendaal, a town in the tulip region. The Dutch Anglicized the name to “Bloomingdale” or “the Bloomingdale District”, to the west side of Manhattan from about 23rd Street up to the Hollow Way (modern 125th Street). It consisted of farms and villages along a road (regularized in 1703) known as the Bloomingdale Road. Bloomingdale Road was renamed The Boulevard in 1868, as the farms and villages were divided into building lots and absorbed into the city. By the 18th century it contained numerous farms and country residences of many of the city’s well-off, a major parcel of which was the Apthorp Farm. The main artery of this area was the Bloomingdale Road, which began north of where Broadway and the Bowery Lane (now Fourth Avenue) join (at modern Union Square) and wended its way northward up to about modern 116th Street in Morningside Heights, where the road further north was known as the Kingsbridge Road. Within the confines of the modern-day Upper West Side, the road passed through areas known as Harsenville, Strycker’s Bay, and Bloomingdale Village. With the building of the Croton Aqueduct passing down the area between present day Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue in 1838–42, the northern reaches of the district became divided into Manhattan Valley to the east of the aqueduct and Bloomingdale to the west. Bloomingdale, in the latter half of the 19th century, was the name of a village that occupied the area just south of 110th street.

Broadway and 112th Street © Momos/cc-by-sa-3.0 Springtime in Riverside Park © Momos/cc-by-sa-3.0 Upper West Side and Central Park from Rockefeller Center Observatory © Nmattson10 American Museum of Natural History © Ingfbruno/cc-by-sa-3.0 Central Park West and West 97th Street © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Ed Yourdon/cc-by-sa-2.0 © panoramio.com - Gary Miotla/cc-by-3.0
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Upper West Side and Central Park from Rockefeller Center Observatory © Nmattson10
In the 1900s, the area south of 67th Street was heavily populated by African-Americans and supposedly gained its nickname of San Juan Hill in commemoration of African-American soldiers who were a major part of the assault on Cuba‘s San Juan Hill in the Spanish–American War. By 1960, it was a rough neighborhood of tenement housing, the demolition of which was delayed to allow for exterior shots in the movie musical West Side Story. Thereafter, urban renewal brought the construction of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Towers apartments during 1962–1968. The Upper West Side is a significant Jewish neighborhood, populated with both German Jews who moved in at the turn of last century, and Jewish refugees escaping Hitler’s Europe in the 1930s. Today the area between 85th Street and 100th Street is home to the largest community of young Modern Orthodox singles outside of Israel. However, the Upper West Side also features a substantial number of non-Orthodox Jews. A number of major synagogues are located in the neighborhood, including the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, Shearith Israel; New York’s second-oldest and the third-oldest Ashkenazi synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun; Rodeph Sholom; the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue; and numerous others. From the post-WWII years until the AIDS epidemic, the neighborhood, especially below 86th Street, had a substantial gay population. As the neighborhood had deteriorated, it was affordable to working class gay men, and those just arriving in the city and looking for their first white collar jobs. Its ethnically mixed gay population, mostly Hispanic and white, with a mixture of income levels and occupations patronized the same gay bars in the neighborhood, making it markedly different from most gay enclaves elsewhere in the city. The influx of white gay men in the Fifties and Sixties is often credited with accelerating the gentrification of the Upper West Side, and by the mid and late ’70s, the gay male population had become predominantly white. Another component that brought about the eventual gentrification of the neighborhood were the recent college graduates in the late ’70s and early ’80s who moved in, drawn to the neighborhood’s relatively large apartments and cheap housing. In a subsequent phase of urban renewal, the rail yards which had formed the Upper West Side’s southwest corner were replaced by the Riverside South residential project, which included a southward extension of Riverside Park. The evolution of Riverside South had a 40-year history, often extremely bitter, beginning in 1962 when the New York Central Railroad, in partnership with the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, proposed a mixed-use development with 12,000 apartments, Litho City, to be built on platforms over the tracks. The subsequent bankruptcy of the enlarged, but short-lived Penn Central Transportation Company brought other proposals and prospective developers. The one generating the most opposition was Donald Trump’s “Television City” concept of 1985, which would have included a 152-story office tower and six 75-story residential buildings. In 1991, a coalition of prominent civic organizations proposed a purely residential development of about half that size, and then reached a deal with Trump.

The apartment buildings along Central Park West (Central Park West Historic District), facing the park, are some of the most desirable apartments in New York. The Dakota at 72nd St. has been home to numerous celebrities including John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein and Lauren Bacall. Other famous buildings on CPW include the Art Deco Century Apartments (Irwin Chanin, 1931), and The Majestic, also by Chanin. The San Remo, The Eldorado and The Beresford were all designed by Emery Roth, as was 41 West 96th Street (completed in 1926). His first commission, the Belle Époque Belleclaire, is on Broadway, while the moderne Normandie holds forth on Riverside at 86th Street. Along Broadway are several Beaux-Arts apartment houses: The Belnord (1908) – the fronting block of which was co-named in honor of longtime resident Isaac Bashevis Singer, plus The Apthorp (1908), The Ansonia (1902), The Dorilton and the Manhasset. All are individually designated New York City landmarks. Curvilinear Riverside Drive also has many beautiful pre-war houses and larger buildings, including the graceful curving apartment buildings—The Paterno and The Colosseum by Schwartz & Gross—at 116th St and Riverside Drive. West End Avenue, a grand residential boulevard lined with pre-war Beaux-Arts apartment buildings and townhouses dating from the late-19th and early 20th centuries, is closed to commercial traffic. Columbus Avenue north of 87th Street was the spine for major post-World War II urban renewal. Broadway is lined with such architecturally notable apartment buildings as The Ansonia, The Apthorp, The Belnord, the Astor Court Building, and The Cornwall, which features an Art nouveau cornice. Newly constructed 15 Central Park West and 535 West End Avenue are known to be some of the prestigious residential addresses in Manhattan. Other historical sites are:

Read more on NYCgo.com – Upper West Side, Broadway Mall Association, Landmark West!, Wikivoyage Upper West Side and Wikipedia Upper West Side (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). 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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