ALL ABOUT UPPER WEST SIDE, NY
What Upper West Side is known for
Located between Central Park and Riverside Park along the Hudson River, the Upper West Side fits the bill of what many consider to be the quintessential New York City neighborhood.
It is home to some of New York’s most iconic cultural attractions and educational institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Lincoln Center, and the Juilliard School of Music, with Columbia University located just north of the neighborhood.
The streets are lined with historic and modern buildings that represent the city’s many colorful eras, from classic brownstones, early 1900s apartments, and converted industrial buildings, to contemporary skyscrapers and cutting edge new developments.
While the Upper West Side radiates New York’s famous cosmopolitan energy, it is also known as one of the city’s most laidback neighborhoods. With abundant green spaces, a reputation for safety, casual restaurants, and great schools nearby, the Upper West Side is considered to be a family-friendly community where you can find greater tranquility than anywhere else in Manhattan.
The Upper West Side’s population of around 215,000 includes singles, young couples, seasoned city dwellers, and everyone in between. Along with its convenient location and numerous transportation options, the neighborhood’s fascinating mix of culture, parks, and nightlife has made it a popular choice for people of all ages and walks of life.
Brief History of the Upper West Side
The earliest inhabitants of the land that came to be known as the Upper West Side were the Munsee of the Lenape Native American tribes. In the mid-17th century, the first Dutch settlers came to the area, but wars with the Munsees confined them to a stretch of land on the north which they called Bloomingdale, known today as Broadway.
The late 18th century saw the area littered with grand estates, large homes, and farms owned by wealthy merchants. The construction of Central Park in 1853 changed the neighborhood’s composition when informal settlers and low income families who used to live in the park moved west and built their shanties and lean tos.
In the late 19th century, many of the neighborhood’s row houses were demolished to give way to apartment buildings. In the 1950s and 1960s, the area’s affordability made it a magnet for African Americans moving from the south, as well as immigrants from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, and other countries.
The neighborhood also attracted artists, academics, and young families looking for lower cost housing and a sense of community.
In the mid-1950s, beginning with the construction of the Lincoln Center, the Upper West Side began its transformation into an upscale community, and in the 1980s, it started to attract high earning young professionals who had the means to pay the neighborhood’s increasingly rising rents.
Today, the Upper West Side has retained much of its historic alleur but also captures the modern dynamism of the city, with glass and chrome skyscrapers sharing the skyline with red stone and brick towers.
Upper West Side Homes for Sale
The Upper West Side features some of the most prestigious addresses in all of New York, including 15 Central Park West, 25 Columbus Circle, Trump International, and The Park Laurel, all located in Central Park West. Other notable condo and apartment buildings in the neighborhood include The Apthorp, The Laureate, and 555 West End Avenue.
While the Upper West Side is known as a wealthy neighborhood, real estate here comes in a wide range of sizes and prices. Condos and apartments are a mix of old and new developments. You’ll find relatively affordable studios and one bedroom apartments in coop buildings built in the early to mid 1900s, as well as luxurious one bedroom to 4 bedroom condos in 10 year old or newer developments.
Top end Upper West Side homes for sale boast a wealth of amenities, including fitness centers, swimming pools, concierge services, spas, and more. The neighborhood also has a high number of doorman buildings — one of the reasons it has earned a reputation for safety and security.
You can also find beautiful town homes for sale in the Upper West Side, many of which are just steps away from Central Park or Riverside Park. Built in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, these exquisite properties boast rich histories and well-preserved details of their original eras while featuring top of the line updates.
Wherever you choose to live in the neighborhood, you’re never too far from Central Park or Riverside Park, fabulous shopping and dining, amazing museums, and cultural experiences.
All About Upper West Side, NY
New York experiences all four seasons, and each one brings a distinct character to the city. Summers are hot and humid with average temperature highs of around 73 degrees to 77 degrees F. Winters can be freezing, with an average temperature of 32 degrees F. The city also experiences the wind chill effect during the winter.
Central Park and Riverside Park, which flank the Upper West Side, display the change of seasons in all their finery. Spring is when the cherry blossom trees in Central Park bloom, and autumn brings a landscape of fiery golds, oranges, and browns.
In the winter, the park turns into a winter wonderland, with its light displays and popular ice skating rinks. In the summer, people flock to the two parks for picnics and the many summer events hosted here.
Economy and cost of living
Home to some of New York’s wealthiest, the Upper West Side has a cost of living index that’s 71% higher than most of the city, primarily because of the higher housing costs. According to Area Vibes, the neighborhood’s cost of utilities, goods and services, healthcare, transportation, and others, are at par with the city but higher than most of the US.
The average household income in the Upper West Side is around $83,000, which is nearly 1.5 times higher than the national average. The neighborhood is home to numerous banks and the offices of some of the top businesses in the country, particularly in the finance, IT, and manufacturing sectors.
One of the best attractions of Upper West Side homes for sale is the numerous transportation options that can take you around the city and beyond. The neighborhood is served by numerous MTA bus lines, and there’s a bus stop in practically every block. You can travel to Midtown and Lower Manhattan without having to change buses.
The neighborhood is also served by several subway lines, including express and local services. There are plenty of subway stops in the Upper West Side, making going around the city easy and convenient.
Schools and education
The prestigious schools, colleges, and universities found near Upper West Side homes for sale are among the reasons the neighborhood is considered an intellectual and cultural hub. It is home to The Juilliard School of Music, as well as the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School Of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Columbia University and Barnard College are found just north of the neighborhood, and campuses of other top higher education institutions in the country are also found here.
The neighborhood’s elementary and high schools, both private and public, are also highly ranked.
Top rated public schools include:
- P.S. 87 William Sherman School
- P.S. 145 The Bloomingdale School
- P.S. 163 Alfred E. Smith School
- P.S. 166 The Richard Rodgers School of the Arts and Technology
- P.S. 84 The Lillian Weber School of the Arts
- P.S. 191 The Museum Magnet School
- P.S. 133 Manhattan School for Children
- Special Music School
- P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson
- P.S. 811 The Mickey Mantle School
- P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon
The Upper West Side’s private schools are also considered to be some of the best in New York State. In a 2020 study by school ranking site Niche.com, nine schools in the neighborhood ranked in the top 100 private schools in the state, with Trinity School topping the list.
The other Upper West Side private schools that ranked in the study are:
- Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, Manhattan
- Heschel High School
- Dwight School, Manhattan
- The Calhoun School, Manhattan
- Professional Children’s School, Manhattan
- Yeshiva University High School for Boys, Manhattan
- York Prep School, Manhattan
- Dwight Global Online School, Manhattan
Central Park separates the Upper West Side from the Upper East Side. This legendary and iconic attraction is visited by around 37 million people annually and hosts some of the biggest concerts and events in the country. Known as NYC’s lung, Central Park boasts acres of wooded areas, numerous bodies of water, and notable landmarks and structures, including Columbus Circle, the Grand Army Plaza, Duke Ellington Circle, Cleopatra’s Needle, the USS Maine Monument, and many more.
Riverside Park flanks the Upper West Side to the west. Established in 1872, this scenic park spans over 253 acres and stretches four miles along the Hudson River. Along with Central Park, it was designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and features several walking and biking paths, sports courts and fields, a skate park, and a 110-slip marina, making it perfect for fitness enthusiasts.
Compared to the Upper East Side, the restaurant scene in the Upper West Side is considered to be more casual and informal, with less of the chic and dress to the nines establishments of its eastern neighbor. There’s no shortage of excellent dining destinations in the neighborhood, however. From upscale restaurants to affordable eateries, the Upper West Side offers great gastronomic options.
Among the must try restaurants in the area are:
- Marlow Bistro
- Oxbow Tavern
- Food Dried Hot Pot
- Thai Market
- Cafe Luxembourg
- Absolute Bagels
- Fine & Schapiro
As with the dining, shopping in the Upper West Side is not as glitzy as on the Upper East Side. Instead of luxury brands, shopping options near Upper West Side homes for sale are targeted more to the mass market. There’s a wealth of chain stores in the neighborhood, including Pottery Barn, Bed Bath & Beyond, a Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store, and others.
The main shopping destination in the neighborhood is Columbus Avenue. The Shops at Columbus Circle, an upscale shopping mall located in the Time Warner Center, features shops of popular and luxury brands, such as J. Crew, Banana Republic, Coach, Michael Kors, and others. Art and flea market lovers should not miss The Grand Bazaar NYC, the city’s biggest curated weekly market open every Sunday all year round.
Notable celebrity residents
Over the years, the Upper West Side has been home to numerous celebrities and the most successful individuals in entertainment and business. Some of the most recognizable former or current residents in the neighborhood include John Lennon, Matt Damon, Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Josh Groban, Robert de Niro, and more.
Cultural and historic attractions
Upper West Side homes for sale are found close to the neighborhood’s famous cultural attractions and historic buildings with distinctive architecture. These include:
- Lincoln Center
Completed in 1969, this 16.3 acre complex is home to some of the top performing groups in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Ballet. The Juilliard School of Music is also part of the complex, and stages performances of up and coming musicians and students in the school. Lincoln Center stages around 5,000 shows and programs annually, including The Midsummer Night Swing series, Harlem Week, and more.
- American Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1869, the original structures of the museum were completed in the 1930s. The museum complex includes 26 interconnected buildings and houses over 34 million nature related specimens and artifacts. The complex includes the Rose Center for Earth and Space, a science museum mostly dedicated to astronomy. The center also includes the Hayden Planetarium.
- New York Historical Society
New York’s first museum founded in 1804, the New York Historical Society is home to artworks by early American masters such as Thomas Cole, John James Audobon, Eastman Johnson, and more. Other collections include early national documents, 18th century newspapers, Civil War materials and more.
- Notable historic apartments
The historic apartment buildings in the Upper West Side stand out for their beautiful period architecture, as well as for the part they played in New York’s history. Among the most notable historic apartments in the neighborhood are The Dakota Building, The Chatsworth, The San Remo, The Majestic, The Beresford, and more.
Explore Upper West Side homes for sale with Danny Nassi
One of New York City’s most distinguished real estate experts, Danny Nassi and his team will guide you to the right homes for sale in the Upper West Side, or help you sell a home at the highest profit.