NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

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Upper West Side

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Incredibly diverse in both its inhabitants and its architecture, the sprawling Upper West Side nearly comprises an entire city within itself. Housing some of the city’s most exciting cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Opera, the American Museum of Natural History, the Julliard School, and Lincoln Center among many others, this neighborhood is a focal point for much of the major arts activities in the city, and it boasts some of the city’s finest restaurants and shopping. Its proximity to Central Park and Riverside Park assure all of its residents plenty of access to ample green space, and many of its denizens enjoy unbelievable park and river views.


Landscape

Located between 59th and 125th Streets to the west of Central Park, the Upper West Side comprises much of what original Dutch settlers would have called Bloemendaal, Anglicized to "Bloomingdale" or "the Bloomingdale District", which was located on the west side of Manhattan from about 23rd Street up to 125th Street. Bounded to both the east and west by beautiful parks, this neighborhood is surrounded by the most luscious green spaces in the city, and its homey blocks are lined with gorgeous trees in bloom. The architecture varies from pre-civil war brownstones to ragtag tenements to early 20th century luxury mid-rise buildings to stunning contemporary high-rises.


History

In the 18th century, the Upper West Side contained numerous farms and country residences of many of the city's well-off, a major parcel of which was the 300-acre Apthorp Farm. The main artery of this area was the Bloomingdale Road, which began where Broadway and Union Square meet and wound its way northward up to about modern 116th Street in Morningside Heights, where the road further north was known as the Kingsbridge Road. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, some of colonial New York's most ambitious houses were built in this neighborhood, spaced along Bloomingdale Road. During the first half of the 19th century, smaller, more suburban villas began to spring up, and during the construction of Central Park in the 1850s and 1860s, the area eventually became a haven for squatters. Little by little, beginning in the late 1800s more well-heeled New Yorkers saw great real estate opportunities in the Upper West Side, and the area has now become one of New York’s most open, diverse, and exciting neighborhoods.