Upper West Side, ZIP 10030
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 125th Street. It encompasses the neighborhood of Morningside Heights.
Like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is an upscale, primarily residential, area, with many of its residents working in more commercial areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. While these distinctions were never hard-and-fast rules and now mean little, it has the reputation of being home to New York City's cultural and artistic workers, while the Upper East Side is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types. The neighborhood median household income of the Upper West Side is above the Manhattan average.
The Upper West Side is bounded on the south by 58th Street, Central Park to the east, and the Hudson River to the west. Its northern boundary is somewhat less obvious. Although it has historically been cited as 110th Street, which fixes the neighborhood alongside Central Park, it is now sometimes considered to be 125th Street, encompassing Morningside Heights. This reflects demographic shifts in Morningside Heights, as well as the tendency of real estate brokers to co-opt the tony Upper West Side name when listing Morningside Heights and Harlem apartments. 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 (12th Avenue), 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 avenues at the south end of the neighborhood and above 72nd Street moves parallel to the avenues. Broadway enters the neighborhood at its juncture with Central Park West at Columbus Circle (58th Street), crosses Columbus Ave. at Lincoln Square (65th Street), crosses Amsterdam Ave. at Verdi Square (72nd Street), and then merges with West End at Straus Park (aka Bloomingdale Square, at 107th Street).
Morningside Heights, just west of Harlem, is the site of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Columbia University, Barnard College, Bank Street College of Education, the National Council of Churches, Union Theological Seminary, Manhattan School of Music, Teachers College and Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as well as Grant's Tomb and Riverside Church.
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, 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 built by Donald Trump, 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.
The long high bluff above useful sandy coves along the North River was little used or traversed by the Lenape people. A combination of the stream valleys, such as that in which 96th Street runs, and wetlands to the northeast and east, may have protected a portion of the Upper West Side from the Lenape's controlled burns; lack of periodic ground fires results in a denser understory and more fire-intolerant trees, such as American Beech.
The Dutch applied the name Bloemendaal, Anglicized to "Bloomingdale" or "the Bloomingdale District", to the west side of Manhattan from about 23rd Street up to the Hollow Way (modern 125th Street), and 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.
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Upper West Side-to-be contained some of colonial New York's most ambitious houses, spaced along Bloomingdale Road. It became increasingly infilled with smaller, more suburban villas in the first half of the nineteenth century, and in the middle of the century, parts had become decidedly lower class.
Much of the riverfront of the Upper West Side was a shipping, transportation, and manufacturing corridor. The Hudson River Railroad line right-of-way was granted in the late 1830s to connect New York City to Albany, and soon ran along the riverbank. One major non-industrial development, the creation of the Central Park in the 1850s and 60s caused many squatters to move their shacks into the UWS. Parts of the neighborhood became a ragtag collection of squatters' housing, boarding houses, and rowdy taverns.
As this development occurred, the old name of Bloomingdale Road was being chopped away and the name Broadway was progressively applied further northward to include what had been lower Bloomingdale Road. In 1868, the city began straightening and grading the section of the Bloomingdale Road from Harsenville north, and it became known as "The Boulevard". It retained that name until the end of the century, when the name Broadway finally supplanted it.
Development of the neighborhood lagged even while Central Park was being laid out in the 1860s and 70s, then was stymied by the Panic of 1873. Things turned around when the elevated train's rapid transit was extended up Ninth Avenue (renamed Columbus Avenue in 1890), and with Columbia University's relocation to Morningside Heights in the 1890s, using lands once held by the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. The Upper West Side experienced a building boom from 1885 to 1910, thanks in large part to the 1904 opening of the city's first subway line, the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, with subway stations at 59th, 66th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 91st, 96th, 103rd, 110th, 116th and Manhattan (now 125th) streets. This followed upon the opening of the now demolished IRT Ninth Avenue Line – the city's first elevated railway – which opened in the decade following the American Civil War.
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.
Riverside Park was conceived in 1866 and formally approved by the state legislature through the efforts of city parks commissioner Andrew Haswell Green. The first segment of park was acquired through condemnation in 1872, and construction soon began following a design created by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed the adjacent, gracefully curving Riverside Drive. In 1937, under the administration of commissioner Robert Moses, 132 acres (0.53 km2) of land were added to the park, primarily by creating a promenade that covered the tracks of the Hudson River Railroad. Moses, working with landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke also added playgrounds, and distinctive stonework and the 79th Street Boat Basin, but also cut pedestrians off from direct access to most of the riverfront by building the Henry Hudson Parkway by the river's edge. According to Robert Caro's book, The Power Broker on Moses, Riverside Park was designed with most of the amenities located in predominately white neighborhoods, with the neighborhoods closer to Harlem getting shorter shrift. Riverside Park, like Central Park, has undergone a revival late in the 20th century, largely through the efforts of The Riverside Park Fund, a citizen's group. Largely through their efforts and the support of the city, much of the park has been improved. The Hudson River Greenway along the river-edge of the park is a popular route for pedestrians and bicycle commuters, and offers spectacular vistas. A dramatic new improvement to the greenway is the $15.7 million "Riverwalk" extension to the park's greenway being constructed between 83rd and 91st Streets on a promenade in the river itself. Riverwalk was completed in May 2010.
The Upper West Side is a significant Jewish neighborhood, populated with both German Jews who moved in at the turn of the 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.
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 NYC 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 and 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 Union, 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 Railroad 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. As of 2008, construction is well underway, but still to be resolved is the future of the West Side Highway viaduct over the park area.
The Bloomingdale district was the site for several long-established charitable institutions: their unbroken parcels of land have provided suitably scaled sites for Columbia University and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, as well as for some vanished landmarks, such as the Schwab Mansion on Riverside Drive, the most ambitious free-standing private house ever built in Manhattan.
The name Bloomingdale is still used in reference to a part of the Upper West Side, essentially the location of old Bloomingdale Village, the area from about 96th Street up to 110th Street and from Riverside Park east to Amsterdam Ave. The triangular block bound by Broadway, West End Avenue, 106th Street and 107th Street, although generally known as Straus Park (named for Isidor Straus and his wife Ida), was officially designated Bloomingdale Square in 1907. The neighborhood also includes the Bloomingdale School of Music and Bloomingdale neighborhood branch of the New York Public Library. Adjacent to the Bloomingdale neighborhood is a more diverse and less affluent subsection of the Upper West Side called Manhattan Valley, focused on the downslope of Columbus Avenue and Manhattan Avenue from about 102nd Street up to 110th Street.
The community's links to the events 9/11 were evinced in the Upper West Side, Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam's paean to the men of Ladder Co 40/Engine Co 35, just a few blocks from his home, in Firehouse.
Two subway lines serve the Upper West Side. The IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (1 2 3 trains) runs along the Broadway making stops at 59th, 66th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 103rd, 110th, and 116th streets. The IND Eighth Avenue Line (A B C D trains) runs along Central Park West stopping at 59th, 72nd, 81st, 86th, 96th, 103rd, and 110th streets.
There are five different bus routes that go up and down the Upper West Side, as well as crosstown buses at every major intersection.
Amsterdam Avenue from 67th Street up to 110th Street is lined with restaurants and bars, as is Columbus Avenue, to a slightly lesser extent. The following lists a few prominent ones.
The apartment buildings along Central Park West, 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 (building) also by Chanin. The San Remo, The Eldorado (300 C.P.W., with the highest sum of Democratic presidential campaign contributions by address in 2004; the home of Herman Wouk's fictional Marjorie Morningstar), 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 I.B. 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 (apartment building) 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 addressess in Manhattan.
American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is based in the Upper West Side.
The Upper West Side has been a setting for many movies and television shows because of its pre-War architecture, colorful community and rich cultural life. Ever since Edward R. Murrow went "Person-to-Person" live, the length of Central Park West in the 1950s, West Siders scarcely pause to gape at on-site trailers, and jump their skateboards over coaxial cables and it seems that one or another of the various Law & Order shows is taking up all the available parking spaces in the neighborhood. Woody Allen's film Hannah and Her Sisters captures that quintessential Upper West Side flavor of rambling high-ceilinged apartments bursting at the seams with books and other cultural artifacts.
Famous comedian George Carlin grew up on 121st, and heavily drew upon his New York City roots on a number of his comedy albums, perhaps most memorably on Occupation: Foole, where he and his friends called their neighborhood "White Harlem... because it sounded tough. Its real name was Morningside Heights."
Electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos made her classic 1968 album Switched-On Bach in her West End Avenue apartment, which she had converted into a makeshift home recording studio.
Lynn Oliver had his recording studio sandwiched next to the New Yorker Bookshop and Benny's on 89th and B'way. The likes of Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, and Stan Getz could be seen ducking into his alley-like studio to practice and hangout. An arranger and drummer, Oliver's credits are found on more than a few classic cuts from the 60's.
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