My New York Neighborhood: Upper West Side

By Kim Broughton

Moving from Sydney to Manhattan was exciting and dangerous.

The first challenge was to determine which neighborhood to live but in fact this was a favorite old game between my husband and I:

Are you Upper West Side? Or Upper East Side?

There is no right or wrong; some days I am UWS, some days I feel UES.

So why did I move to the UWS?  Lets be really practical…

We bled money paying for a Real Estate Broker who swore that the UWS was the best place to be with a young family.  There are many family friendly neighbourhoods in Manhattan, however the UWS has some definite benefits; especially if your little one is at home with you, all day without a backyard!

  • Proximity to Central Park and Riverside parks and playgrounds
  • Kid venues: NY kids club, Kidsville, Museum for children, the Natural History Museum, Lincoln Centre
  • Kid friendly restaurants: the diners won’t glare at you when you sit down and whip out the iPads, and the waiters bring crayons to the table. Plus, they offer cocktails too so everybody wins
  • Schools: There are good schools (public and private) located on the UWS. It’s a predominant reason why this neighbourhood is so popular – do note that there is a lot of competition to win a place at these schools.
  • Its stroller-friendly. I mention this because if you have a stroller, wide footpaths with proximity to a subway is so important for your sanity. I plowed the snowy footpaths of Broadway and West End Ave with my trusty Mountain Buggy and lived to tell the tale.
  • Harry’s shoes on Broadway, not quite Manolo but very convenient
  • Barnes and Nobles on Broadway….I know Amazon is taking over the world but I still love a good bookstore

Subway Lines

You have access to the 1/2/3 and A/C lines along the Westside of Manhattan. Yes there are plentiful taxis, buses, Uber’s; but let’s be real, the subway is simply the fastest way to the sales at downtown.

Pre War Architecture

For some unknown reason, I really love the Pre-War buildings – they are standing relics of the colourful history of this city that surrounds us. In particular I adore Brownstones, I think perhaps they are so far removed from experience of growing up in Australia and New Zealand they that evoke a very romantic image of New York.

Mother Nature is close

Living on the UWS (as opposed to living in…) offers a respite to the hard reality of living in a big and crowded city. The access to park space and seeing a little of Mother Nature is very calming and offers shelter on hot days.

It’s a bit arty and political too

My neighbours are interesting people. They’re either actors, directors, Wall St impresarios or running businesses. The neighbourhood is a mix of the die-hard natives who lived here for 20-40 years and have some superbly gory stories of New York before it gentrified. Then there is the new crew, generally expatriates who have moved here for work, pay market-rate rent and are driving new business through the town.

It’s good enough for Tina Fey!

My best friend (cough) Tina lives down the road on West End…she’s always banging on about the Upper West Side*, and she just bought a new condo that will adjoin her current one. Even though I doubt that Tina has plowed the snowy pavement of WEA with her Mountain Buggy, she’s a local and I don’t think she’s moving.

*Tina Fey reckons Upper West Siders are a bit ‘ugly’ (!) Lets just say that my motives for running downtown are compounded by rash statements like this!

But wait…there’s more

It’s New York, there is always more! As much as I enjoy the UWS and feel very safe and my daughter goes to a nice school – I’m always on the lookout! I love going to the Upper East Side where I enjoy the vibe and retail…going downtown to the Village and Soho is my favourite thing to do, and Tribeca architecture is amazing (and expensive). I love my neighbourhood but I love exploring other districts too.  The UWS is great for families, but if my situation was different (eg: sans child, single or even just adventurous), I might choose to live somewhere….but that’s a different blog!

My favourite things on the UWS:

  • Zabars – I like their cake counter, the bagels, the lox, I can buy vegemite here, and the service is generally pretty good
  • Then there is the Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery on Columbus…I only discovered the joys of BP when I arrived in New York; and it supercedes cupcakes!
  • C21 at Lincoln Centre – smaller than downtown but an excellent selection
  • Walking through Riverside Park – anytime of year
  • The Christmas lights in the trees around Columbus Avenue
  • AMC84…cinematic experience with reclining seats (at no extra cost!)
  • The majestic pre-war buildings that line quiet West End Avenue
  • The Christmas market at Columbus circle – during the first snow of the season
  • Central Park West (except in the blistering cold) always makes me happy
  • Brownstone shopping around the side streets of Central Park
  • If I lived closer to Fairway or Trader Joes – this would make me happy!
  • Levain Bakery, Jacque Torres have their bakeries on Amsterdam…before you go jogging in Central Park
  • Beacon Theatre; I’m amazed at the talent that plays at this theatre, it’s just a small venue and I can stumble home tiddled after a good show
  • Behind the Beacon Theatre is a large fire escape that traverses the rear of the building. It’s magnificent and makes me think of ‘Westside Story’ musical.
  • The cocktails at Calle Ocho…I am so happy to sink back into a comfortable bench and just sip and giggle.
  • Going to my dentist; his practice is just down the road from where John Lennon used to live – isn’t the world a small place sometimes?
  • Walk and Talk – why is there so much noise on the street? Because it feels good to get outside, and walk and talk with your best mates.
  • Seinfeld and SNL are much funnier when you actually live in New York and Jerry Stiller from Seinfeld lives on RSD and 84th….

Photo credit: Kim Broughton

 

 

2 thoughts on “My New York Neighborhood: Upper West Side

  1. Fabulously textured and vivid description – and almost tempting to one (moi) currently wondering where to peg my tent on this colorful city of neighborhoods.
    I have a question for you and the rest of the community based on my demographic. 54 year old single socialite but not a social climber , in spirit more East Village but I don’t really want to camp or stand on the toilet to close the bathroom door, love to see water, leaves, grass and sky even if it’s not in my or backyard. My 29 year old daughter is likely to join next year to study at NYU – and she would want something more edgy whereas I like to fall asleep without a siren going off every 5 minutes. Oh, access to metro essential.

    Don’t want to pay all my money on rent- rather spend it on enjoying New York!

    What would you recommend. ?

  2. I live on the Upper West Side too. I’ll check out Levain bakery. I’m always looking for cafes to work in. Please check out my blog too, it’s called vegemitecheeseburger.com

Comments are closed.