Classy apartment buildings on the Upper West Side
The Upper West Side (including Morningside Heights) covers a large area in upper Manhattan bounded by 59th Street on the south, 125th Street on the north, the Hudson River on the west, and Central Park and Morningside Park on the east. The area encompasses four distinct Manhattan neighborhoods -- the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Bloomingdale, and Manhattan Valley -- and includes one of its finest parks, Riverside Park, which runs along the river all the way from 59th Street to 125th Street.
Often called the city's quintessential neighborhood, the area includes delightful residential streets, the twin-towered facades of the old apartment hotels on Central Park West and Riverside Drive, two of the city's best-known markets (Zabar's and Fairway) , one of its major museums (the American Museum of Natural History), an Ivy League university (Columbia University), and the Neo-Gothic Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The area is an architectural historian's delight with many of its buildings (especially in Morningside Heights) built before the Second World War and quite a few built before the First World War, though the area is changing with the construction of large condominium buildings south of 110th Street. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, running from 62nd Street to 66th Street, contains the Metropolitan Opera; the New York State Theater, home of the New York City Opera and Ballet; Avery Fisher Hall, the home of the New York Philharmonic; the Juilliard School; and the New York Public Library's Library for the Performing Arts, among other institutions.
From west to east, the Upper West Side is oriented along Riverside Drive, West End Avenue (which is called 11th Avenue south of 59th St.), Amsterdam Avenue (called 10th Avenue south of 59th St.), Columbus Avenue (9th Avenue), and Central Park West (8th Avenue). All these avenues change from numbers to names north of 59th Street. The 66-block stretch of Broadway forms the backbone of the Upper West Side and lies diagonally across the avenues; it begins at its juncture with Central Park West at Columbus Circle (59th Street), crosses Columbus Avenue at Lincoln Square (65th Street), crosses Amsterdam Ave. at Verdi Square (72nd Street), and then merges with West End at Straus Square (aka Bloomingdale Square, at 107th Street).
The primary subway service to the Upper West Side is the 1 local train and the 2 and 3 express trains, which run under Broadway. All three lines stop at 72nd St. and 96th St., with the 1 also stopping at 59th St. (Columbus Circle), 66th St. (Lincoln Center), 79th St., 86th St., 103rd St., 110th St., 116th St. (Columbia University), and 125th St. The 1 line continues north along Broadway, while the 2 and 3 lines branch east north of the 96th St. stop and head into Central Harlem.
Also serving the neighborhood are the A, B, C, and D lines, which run under Central Park West (called 8th Av. north and south of Central Park), although the A and D express lines usually stop only at 59th St. (Columbus Circle) and 125th St.(at St. Nicholas Av.), except after midnight, when the A goes local for a few hours. The B (weekdays only) and C local lines stop at 59th St., 72nd St., 81st St. (Museum of Natural History), 86th St., 96th St., 103rd St., 110 St., 116th St., and 125 St.
There are numerous bus routes which service this neighborhood.
A walk or bike ride to the Upper West Side is a very pleasant way to get in in good weather, whether going through Central Park from the Upper East Side or heading north from the Theater District.
- Apthorp, 2207 Broadway and 390 West End Avenue. A beautiful early 20th-century high-rise luxury apartment building, taking up the entire square block between 78th and 79th Sts. between Broadway and West End Avenue. Its companion, the Belnord, takes up the square block between 86th and 87th Sts. between Broadway and Amsterdam. Both buildings were completed in 1908, at a time when the Upper West Side was still full of wide open spaces.
- Dakota Building, 1 West 72nd Street (at Central Park West). This massive apartment building has been (and is!) home to many celebrities. Probably best known was the former Beatle John Lennon, who was gunned down outside the building on December 8th, 1980 by a crazed fan named Mark Chapman. Lennon had been living at the Dakota with his second wife, Yoko Ono, who still resides in the building. A memorial to the former Beatle exists nearby in Central Park. The building has become a popular place of pilgrimage for many who admire Lennon.
- Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle (Broadway and 59th Street; Subway: A, C, 1, B, D trains to Columbus Circle). Has the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for dining, drinks, and Chihuly chandeliers. It also has a small, ultra-high-end mall with luxury shops and Botero sculptures. In the basement is a large Whole Foods Market, and there is seating for eating their prepared food and salad bar items (cheaper than eating in a restaurant). Or better yet, on nicer days, pick up a prepared meal to-go and venture across the street to Columbus Circle or Sheep's Meadow in Central Park for a nice outdoor meal.
- American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue at 66th Street; Subway: 1 to 66 Street-Lincoln Center), ☎ +1 212 595-9533 ([email protected], fax: +1 212 595-6759), . Tu-Sa, noon-7:30PM, Su noon-6:30PM, closed M. Free.
rears over the Museum of Natural History entry hall
- American Museum of Natural History, 79th St and Central Park West (Subway: B (weekdays only) or C to 81st Street-Museum of Natural History), ☎ +1 212 313-7278, . Daily 10AM-5:45PM. Holding a remarkably large collection, each of the 5 floors of this massive building has expansive and well-designed exhibits devoted to astronomy, biology, geology, anthropology, climatology, and paleontology. You will want to allow a full day if you hope to see the entirety of the museum. Some of the highlights are the Rose Center for Earth and Space on the northeast corner of the building, which contains a seven-story glass cube holding the Hayden Planetarium, a huge sphere suspended above the exhibit halls below and holding a "cosmic pathway" exhibit; the numerous habitat diorama halls on the first, second and third floors, with recreations of African, Asian, North American, and ocean plants and animals, including a full-size model of a Blue Whale suspended above the Ocean Life Hall; a Hall of Minerals and Gems, which contains many rare and beautiful specimens, including the largest star sapphire in the world and a chunk of a massive meteorite; extensive anthropology halls on the first, second, and third floors, with exhibits devoted to people of Asia, Africa, Central America, the Pacific, and Native Americans; and the natural history halls on the fourth floor, with one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world. Pay-what-you-wish (suggested admission $16 adults, $12 seniors/students, $9 children); special exhibitions cost extra.
- New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), . Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. Americana including Audubon’s watercolors of birds. $10.
- Nicholas Roerich Museum, 319 W. 107th St., ☎ +1 212 864-7704, . Tu-Su 2PM-5PM.
Churches and cathedrals
- Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street), . The world's largest neo-Gothic cathedral, the place has been a work in progress for over a century! The campus also attracts many songbirds in season.
- Riverside Church, Riverside Av. and 122 St. (just south of Grant's Tomb), . A large and historically important Protestant church and center of progressive social activism.
Institutions of learning
- Columbia University, centered around Broadway and 116 St., is a famous Ivy League college of very long standing in New York.
- Barnard College, across Broadway to the west, is one of the Seven Sisters colleges, and is affiliated with Columbia University.
- Teacher's College on 120th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. Affiliated with Columbia, Teacher's College is an architectural gem with its block length Beaux Arts and neo-Gothic facade buildings.
- Juilliard School of Dance, Drama, and Music, on 65th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus, is one of the foremost conservatories of those disciplines in the United States.
- The Mannes College of Music, on 85th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus, is the New School's classical conservatory of music.
- Manhattan School of Music, on 122nd St. and Broadway, is another conservatory of music.
- Fordham College at Lincoln Center, on 60th St. between Columbus and Amsterdam, is a branch of Fordham University.
- Grant's Tomb, Riverside Drive and 122nd Street (Subway: 1 to 125th St.), ☎ +1 212 666-1640, . Daily 9AM-5PM. General Grant National Memorial. General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife are buried in this imposing mausoleum, the largest tomb in North America.
- Shinran Shonin, 331-332 Riverside Drive (between 105th and 106th Streets). Staring pensively across Riverside Drive at the children playing in the park is the statue of Shinran Shonin, a 13th century Buddhist reformer. In another life, the statue stood in Hiroshima and witnessed the devastation caused by the bomb. His New York home is between two Riverside Drive buildings right next to the New York Buddhist Center .
- Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Riverside Drive at 89th Street. A memorial to the Civil War dead (though, in typical New York fashion, it wasn't constructed till 1902, almost 40 years after the Civil War ended!).
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, between West 62nd and 66th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues (Subway: 1 to 66th St or walkable from A, C, B, and D trains at 59th St. NB: Rose Hall venues are in the Time Warner Center, Broadway at 60th St), . The world's largest cultural complex, where you can see theater, symphonies, ballet, opera, movies, art exhibits or just wander the architecturally beautiful buildings. The buildings are modern, and even have modern chandeliers. There are two opera companies, and the famous Juilliard School of Music is also here. Also part of the complex is the New York Public Library's Library for the Performing Arts, containing circulating and non-circulating collections in music, drama, and dance, as well as special collections of priceless documents that scholars from around the world come to look at.
- Metropolitan Opera, . Confusingly referred to simply as "the Met" (together with the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the premier opera company in New York has been housed at Lincoln Center since 1966, behind five soaring glass arches in the east facade, and within a vast white travertine-clad building. Two Marc Chagall murals grace the foyer. The hall has wonderful acoustics, and its ceiling is lined with gold leaf and chandeliers.
- Walter Reade Theater, . The home of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the premier film society in the United States. The theater itself is a good place to catch the latest trends in cinema from all over the world with annual showcases from Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Israel, and Asia. The film society organizes the annual New York Film Festival at nearby Alice Tully Hall (at the Time Warner Center in 2007 because of construction at Alice Tully) in late September-early October.
- David H. Koch Theater. The home of the New York City Ballet . The Nutcracker staged by the Ballet every December is a holiday classic, popular with New Yorkers and tourists alike.
- Riverside Park, west of Riverside Drive. While nearby Central Park is justly famous and finds its way onto a "must see" list for most visitors to New York, Riverside Park also has its charms, as its riverfront location provides pleasant views of New Jersey and sometimes breezes off the river. Summer brings al fresco movies and music to Riverside Park.
- Morningside Heights Walking Tour. Morningside Heights remained relatively bucolic till the turn of the 20th Century because of its relative inaccessibility, and most of the existing apartment buildings were constructed between about 1900 and 1910. The buildings survive because elevators were being introduced then and consequently most of the buildings are ten to twelve story apartment blocks rather than smaller townhouses or single family homes. Juliet balconies, details on the facades, and grand lobbies make this neighborhood a great place to explore the local architecture.
- Lincoln Square 13 Cinema, 1998 Broadway (Subway: 1 to 66th St.), ☎ +1 212 336-5020, . First showings begin around noon, last showings begin around 11PM. A multiplex two blocks from Lincoln Center, showing major, first-run films on 13 screens. It also contains an IMAX cinema showing mainstream feature films. $12-$16.
The neighborhood, especially the Morningside Heights area, is home to several excellent bookstores.
- Bank Street Bookstore, Broadway at 112th Street. Associated with the Bank Street College, a leading teacher education school, this is one of the best places to buy books, educational toys, and other educational material in the world. The helpful staff will patiently produce the perfect gift for any kid.
- Book Culture, 112th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam). Formerly known as Labyrinth Books, Book Culture is a scholarly bookstore, worth browsing for the books on science and the liberal arts. The sale tables on the second floor are full of bargains that will delight any booklover. They also have a branch at Broadway at 114th Street.
- Columbia University Bookstore, Broadway at 115th Street. Run by Barnes and Noble, this is the best place in the neighborhood to pick up travel guides for anywhere as well as Columbia University branded gifts.
- Barnes and Noble, 82nd/Broadway. A large Barnes and Noble bookstore in the neighborhood.
- Westsider Rare and Used Books, Broadway between 80th and 81st. Specializing in used books.
- Amir's Falafel, Broadway at 114th. Good and inexpensive falafel, shwarma, kebabs, and other standard middle eastern fare.
- Ayurveda Cafe, 706 Amsterdam Ave (at 94th St.). Eat in and take out lunch and dinner. The restaurant/cafe serves a daily fixed menu ideal for vegans, vegetarians and celiacs. Exceptionally friendly and warm, while light and charming.
- Big Nick's, 2175 Broadway (at 77th Street), ☎ +1 212 362-9238, . Open 24 hours. One of the best burger joints in perhaps all of Manhattan, Big Nick's is something of a diner (cramped, wood-paneled, smelling of grease, similar prices), but with far superior food. Their menu is massive, brought to you in the form of a 15-page book with virtually everything imaginable, including an excellent burger menu. Big Nick's also has a second location in the neighborhood at 70 W 71st St (at Columbus Avenue). $7-$15.
- El Malecon, Amsterdam between 97th and 98th Sts.. A Dominican restaurant known as one of the best places for pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken) in Manhattan. They also serve a number of daily specials for lunch and dinner.
- The Heights, Broadway at 111th Street. Tex-Mex. The bar is the best part. A rooftop terrace is open on warm days for al fresco dining.
- Jerusalem Restaurant, 2715 Broadway (between 103rd and 104th Sts.). Serves very tasty falafel at inexpensive prices. The place is a little hole-in-the-wall, but you're there for the food.
- Le Monde, Broadway between 112th & 113th St, . Faux French food but a great international beer selection and good burgers.
- Metro Diner, Broadway and 100th. Has everything you could look for in a diner breakfast menu.
- The Mill, Broadway at 113th. Started life as a diner many years ago but when the owner started adding a few of his native Korean dishes, they caught on and now it is an excellent Korean restaurant.
- Massawa, Amsterdam at 121st Street. One of the oldest Ethopian (Eritrean) restaurants in the city with a no frills decor but good food and service.
- Ollie's, Broadway at 116th. Workday Chinese. Fast and cheap lunch or dinner, but don't expect anything close to average Chinatown quality.
- Tom's Restaurant, corner of Broadway and 112th (close to Columbia University). The restaurant from the comedy series Seinfeld. Strictly located just outside the Upper West Side, this place is a shrine for many TV pilgrims; for the locals, just a diner.
- Halal Cart, 116th and Broadway. Good chicken, veggies, lamb with rice combos for lunch. Coffee and bagels in the mornings.
- Italian Ice Lady, 110th and Broadway. Late Spring to early Fall only. Cheap ices $0.75-$1.50.
- Fruit Stands, 116th and Broadway, 110th and Broadway, and 112th and Broadway. Spring to Fall only.
- The Taco Stand, 96th and Broadway. A popular stand with excellent tacos. Nights only.
- Kefi, Columbus between 84th and 85th Sts.. A high-quality and very popular Greek restaurant (not a diner in any sense). Reservations strongly suggested, especially for dinner. $30-35/person for a full dinner.
- Indus Valley, Broadway and 99th St.. A classy Northern Indian restaurant that serves excellent food. Their lunch special is a bargain; dinner is a little more, but still a fine value.
- Pio Pio, Amsterdam and 94th Street. A Manhattan outpost of a very popular upscale Peruvian chain. Serves great rotisserie chicken, and tends to be very loud due to the large crowds of locals that come here.
- Saigon Grill, Amsterdam and 92nd Street. A large Vietnamese restaurant that also serves sushi and Thai cuisine.
- Sookk, Broadway between 102nd and 103rd Streets. A cozy Thai restaurant with great traditional and fusion.
- Turkuaz, Broadway and 100th St.. Popular for its Turkish food. It can get a little crazy with crowds and belly dancing at times, but many regulars think it's well worth it.
- Fatty Crab, Broadway and 75th St., . Southeast Asian cuisine
- Masa, (in the Time Warner Center). Probably the most expensive restaurant in New York, so go only if money is no object. Those who have been there strongly recommend that you sit at the sushi bar in order to have the best experience. Reservations necessary.
- Per Se, (in the Time Warner Center). The New York outpost of Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, which is in the Napa Valley of California. Chef Keller is one of the most famous and highly praised chefs in the United States. It used to be necessary to call months in advance for reservations, but due to the recession, same-day reservations may be worth attempting.
- Sapphire Indian, Broadway between 60th and 61st Streets (near the Lincoln Center). Excellent unadventurous North Indian food served by knowledgeable waiters in this upscale restaurant. A bit pricey, but you will get a fair value.
- Fairway, Broadway between 74th and 75th Sts. Probably the best-known supermarket in New York, Fairway sells a wide variety of specialty and prepared items, in addition to usual supermarket fare, and has large produce sections. Lots of good values to be had, but watch out for elbows and aggressive shopping cart drivers at peak times.
- Lincoln Center Farmers Market.
- Milano Market, Broadway between 112th and 113th Sts.. Italian products with a good deli, reasonable cheeses, and a good selection of international beers.
- Morningside Heights Farmers Market, Broadway between 114th and 115th Streets, . This outdoor market is year round but is best enjoyed in summer and fall. Delicious New York strawberries and blueberries in mid and late summer, fresh apples (including varieties that never make it to the supermarkets) in Fall. Pumpkins, fresh local tomatoes, melons, watermelons, lots of apple cider, and a stand that sells preserves of local fruits all make this a worthwhile place for browsing if you have your own kitchen.
- Schatzie's, 87th and Amsterdam. Totally friendly, great meats, great butchers, order by phone, and cheaper than Citarella. And they will cook dinner for you if you like.
- Westside Supermarket, 110th and Broadway. An old neighborhood establishment gone upscale. Amazing choice of prepared foods and good fruits and vegetables. The cheese section is outstanding, as also are the meats and fish.
- Zabar's, 2245 Broadway (at 80th St), ☎ (212) 787-2000, . A very well-known store in New York, with an enormous selection of delicious (and expensive) foods. Foodstuffs (cheeses, olives, prepared foods, etc.) are sold on the first floor. The second floor is where you will find all sorts of devices related to cooking and food processing at price points ranging from inexpensive bargains to very expensive luxury items. As with Fairway, do not go the day before Thanksgiving, and think carefully before going on a busy weekend.
- Abbey Pub, 105th Street (off Broadway). An old style pub popular with Columbia University students.
- Smoke Jazz Club and Lounge, 2751 Broadway (between 105th and 106th Sts.), . Live jazz seven days a week. Performers often jam late into the night so go for the late set if you can.
- Amsterdam Ale House, (75th and Amsterdam). Local pub specializing in microbrews
- George Keeleys, (84th and Amsterdam). Excellent beer selection
- Trader Joe's, 2073 Broadway, ☎ 212-799-0028. 8am - 10pm. From the owner: “Trader Joe's is a neighborhood grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. Great quality at great prices. That's what we call value.” A very recent expansion to the Upper West Side in the first floor and basement of an apartment building on Broadway between Amsterdam Avenue, 71st Street and 72nd Street. A neighborhood market that is full of gourmet goods, basics, and healthy & organic alternatives. The staff is super friendly and helpful. $.
The Upper West Side has many idiosyncratic cafes, some of long standing in the neighborhood. Of course, there is no shortage of Starbucks in the area, but for something different try one of the following:
- Cafe Lalo, 83rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. Around in the neighborhood for almost twenty years, Cafe Lalo is packed with a mostly young crowd until late in the night. Excellent cakes and pastries, coffee and tea in many varieties, and digestifs. Featured in You've Got Mail.
- Max Cafe, Amsterdam Avenue between 122nd and 123rd Streets. A laid back place for coffee, tea, sandwiches, and free wireless in the Columbia University neighborhood.
- Oren's, Broadway between 112th and 113th street.. A local chain with good coffee and excellent teas.
- Alice's Tea Cup, 73rd and Columbus. Good tea selection, excellent scones and an Alice in Wonderland theme. Very popular with families with daughters
- Levain's Bakery, 74th and Amsterdam, . Bakery best known for their big, dense cookies.
- Crumbs, 75th and Amsterdam, . Bakery specializing in cupcakes, including the Oreo cupcake and the Hostess cupcake cupcake
- Magnolia, 69th and Columbus, . Part of the cupcake bakery chain
- Belnord Hotel, 209 W 87th St, . Budget hotel near Broadway comprises two adjoining buildings with a hotel section and seasonal accommodations in a dormitory. Complimentary wireless internet access and luggage storage. Guest laundry available.
- Broadway Hotel & Hostel, 230 W 101st St, ☎ +1 212 865-7710, . Starting at $30/night.
- Hostelling International New York, 891 Amsterdam Ave (at 103rd St; Subway: 1 to 103rd St or B/C to 103rd St), ☎ +1 212 932-2300, . One of the largest hostels in NYC. Close to the subway, with internet, 24-hour reception, laundry, a lounge area, a small cafe, and no curfew. The building is old, but in decent shape and pretty clean. Dorms $45/night in the summer.
- Hotel Newton, 2528 Broadway, . Newly refurbished budget hotel with amenities like microwave ovens, mini refrigerators and flat screen televisions.
- Jazz Hostels, (Subway: 1, B or C trains to 103rd St.; Bus: M10 from Penn Station to West 103rd Street and Central Park West), ☎ +1 212 932-1600, . On-site cafe, 24 hour internet and reception, ATM, laundry, no curfew.
- Marrakech Hotel, 2688 Broadway, ☎ +1 212 222-2954, . A boutique-style hotel with a chic design, newly renovated accommodations, near Columbia University and jazz bars. No elevator though.
- Morningside Inn Hotel, 235 W 107th St, .
- Riverside Tower Hotel, 80th St and Riverside Dr, ☎ +1 800 724-3136, .
- Royal Park Hotel, .
- West Side YMCA, 63rd St between Central Park West and Broadway, . Rates are a bit more than your average youth hostel but still inexpensive for Manhattan.
- Central Park Inn, 19 W 103rd St (at Manhattan Ave; Subway: B/C trains to 103rd St), ☎ +1 212 678-0491 (toll free: +1 877 727-5233, [email protected], fax: +1 212 678-0453), . Recently renovated studio apartments; extended stay.
- Comfort Inn Central Park West, 31 West 71st St, . Free high-speed internet, complimentary breakfast, and an exercise room.
- Milburn Hotel, 242 West 76th St, . A spacious apartment-like hotel with kitchenettes and upscale amenities. The hotel has a lobby with fireplace, library/lounge and soft couches, computer room and exercise facility.
- Union Theological Seminary, . Well appointed rooms are set around a beautiful cloister. Under $150, less for visitors with a Columbia University affiliation.
- Excelsior Hotel, 45 West 81st Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue; near the American Museum of Natural History), . A luxury four-star french motif hotel.
- Lucerne Hotel, 201 West 79th St., . An upscale boutique hotel fully restored and recently recognized as a landmark building.
- Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 60th Street and Broadway (Time Warner Building), . The hotel has a spa, upscale dining at Asiate, amazing views, and a fitness center on the premises.
- On the Avenue, 2178 Broadway (at 78th street), ☎ +1 800 509-7598, . The rooms are larger than in most Manhattan hotels, with a modern design. $200-$250.
- Trump International Hotel Towers, 1 Central Park West, ☎ +1 888 448 7867, . An elegant 52-story hotel designed by noted architects Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis.
- Columbia University. Free unsecured wireless service in the neighborhood (best on campus) if you have your own computer with a wireless card.
- New York Public Library. The NYPL branch libraries at Morningside Heights (114th and Broadway); Bloomingdale (100th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam); St Agnes (Amsterdam Avenue and 81st Street); Riverside (Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street); and the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (Amsterdam Av. between 64th and 65th Sts.) all have computer terminals for public use (library membership is not necessary).
- Pinnacle Pizzeria, Broadway at 115th. Has a few internet terminals.
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