Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is a neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River.

Tom's Restaurant, at West 112th Street and , was used as the establishing shot for "Monk's Cafe" on , a program that satirized life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Tom's Restaurant, at West 112th Street and Broadway, was used as the establishing shot for "Monk's Cafe" on Seinfeld, a program that satirized life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.


In modern terms, the Upper West Side is bounded on the south by 59th Street, Central Park to the east. The neighborhood reaches north to 125th Street, and west to the Hudson River. Some consider its northern boundary to be 110th Street and Morningside Heights (site of Columbia University) to the north to be a separate neighborhood. On the south, the Upper West Side borders the West Side of Midtown. The entire western edge alongside the river is Riverside Park.

The Upper West side contains the neighborhoods of Lincoln Center, Morningside Heights, and Manhattan Valley. The Lincoln Center area, running from 59th Street to 72nd Street, contains the Juilliard School, Fordham University, and other highly notable institutions. Morningside Heights, just south of Harlem, is the site of Columbia University. Manhattan Valley, running from about 100th Street to 110th Street, is characteristically very much like Harlem; it is the poorest area of the generally affluent Upper West Side.

From west to east, the avenues of the UWS are Riverside Drive (12th Avenue), West End Avenue (11th Avenue), 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 moves diagonally across the avenues; it begins at its juncture with Central Park West at Columbus Circle (59th 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 Square (aka Bloomingdale Square, at 107th Street).

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 59th Street.


Originally the name Bloomingdale (from the Dutch "Bloemendal"), or the Bloomingdale District, applied to the west side of Manhattan from about 23rd Street up to the Hollow Way (modern 125th Street), and it contained numerous farms and country residences of many of the city's well-off. The main artery of this area was the Bloomingdale Road, which began north of where Broadway and the Bowery Lane 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, Striker'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. The Hudson River Railroad line right-of-way, granted in the late 1830s, soon ran along the riverbank, and creation of the Central Park caused many squatters to move their shacks westward 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 slowly being chopped away and the name Broadway was progressively being 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, until 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 Asylum. The Upper West Side was built in a boom from 1885 to 1910.

In the early part of the 1900s, the Upper West Side area south of 67th St. 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. But by 1960, the area was a rough neighborhood of tenement housing and was used for exterior shots in the movie musical "West Side Story". Urban renewal then swept through with the construction of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Towers apartments during 19621968.

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 with the first proposal made by the Penn Railroad itself. The most ambitious proposal, and the one generating the most opposition was Donald Trump's "Television City" concept of 1985, which would have included a 152-story tower. In 1991, civic groups signaled that they were willing to accept a development about 40% smaller in scope than Trump proposed, and things finally started moving. As of 2005 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 Ave., 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 neighborhood called Manhattan Valley, focused on the downslope of Columbus Ave. and Manhattan Ave. from about 102nd St. up to 110th St.

Landmarks and institutions




Food and gourmet

Amsterdam Avenue from 67th Street up to 96th Street is lined with retaurants and bars. Columbus Avenue is as well, to a slightly lesser extent. The following lists a few neighborhood institutions and famous places.




The apartment buildings along Central Park West, facing the park, are some of the most exclusive apartments in New York, if not the world. The Dakota at 72nd St. has been home to numerous celebrities including John Lennon. Other famous buildings on CPW include the Art Deco Century Apartments (Irwin Chanin, 1931) and the San Remo, Eldorado, Beresford, all built by Emory Roth, and the Majestic by Irwin Chanin. Along Broadway are several Beaux-Arts apartment houses, the severe Apthorp (1908) and the voluptuous Ansonia Hotel and the Dorilton. Buildings of contemporary fame include The Westmont and the Key West, along upper Columbus Avenue, which serve as luxurious dormitories for the singles community of Modern Orthodox Judaism.

In film, television, and the arts

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.

The neighborhood is also known for the conjunction of affluent lifestyles and liberal politics, and is frequently used by conservative critics as shorthand for "out-of-touch liberal elite". It used to be a dependable punchline for liberal jokes.

Lately, the UWS has become known as the epicenter of social activity for singles of the Modern Orthodox Judaism community. Look for the crowds outside OZ (Congregation Ohab Zedek (http://www.ozny.org)) on Friday nights, the crowds attacking the cholent at the Young Israel on Shabbat morning, the scene on Central Park's Great Lawn during Shabbat afternoon, the people watchers at Cafe Roma Pizzeria on Saturday nights, and trashy birthday party goers at Mod.


  • The Apartment (1960)
  • Cruel Intentions (1999)
  • Cruel Intentions 3 (2004), takes place at an Upper West Side prep school
  • Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995), includes a scene set outside the subway station at 72nd St. and Broadway
  • Ghost Busters (1984), the opening of the movie, when a library is overrun with ghosts, is actually at Columbia University and the building where Sigourney Weaver's character lives is 55 Central Park West, at 66th St.
  • Home Alone 2 (1992) takes place in Central Park, and in a townhouse on 95th St. as well as other locations throughout New York.
  • Keeping the Faith (2000), various church locations [1] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171433/locations)
  • Kissing Jessica Stein (2002)
  • Panic Room (2002), takes place on West 91st Street
  • Ransom (1996)
  • Rosemary's Baby (1968), apartment building in movie is The Dakota
  • Single White Female (1992), apartment building in movie is the Ansonia
  • Vanilla Sky (2001), car accident at center of movie happens in Riverside Park, near 96th Street [2] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259711/locations)
  • West Side Story (1961), takes place in tenements where Lincoln Center is today, around 66th Street
  • You've Got Mail (1998), used many UWS locations, such as the park at 72nd Street and Riverside Drive. The DVD of movie includes an interactive tour of the neighborhood. The storyline is also in some degree appropriate to the area because two well-loved UWS independent bookstores, Shakespeare & Co. and Eeyore's, were driven out of business in the late 1990s when they were sandwiched by two branches of a national chain bookstore. Another amusing sidelight relating to the local character of the movie was the scene in which the two principals enter a movie theater. The multiplex exists, and the sub-theater in which they go to watch the movie later showed You've Got Mail.
  • Various Woody Allen movies
    • The end of Annie Hall involves a shot of the Thalia Theater at 95th and Broadway.


  • Law & Order - often used Upper West Side and Morningside Heights locations near Columbia University for filming.
  • Seinfeld - Jerry in the series lived at 129 West 81st St., and the series used exteriors from locations such as Tom's Restaurant and H&H Bagels. Seinfeld himself is an owner of an apartment in the Beresford at 81st Street and Central Park West.
  • Sex and the City - used many locations including Gray's Papaya and Zabar's.
  • Will & Grace - Will lives in 155 Riverside Drive, Apartment 9C. Jack lives in 155 Riverside Drive, Apartment 9A.


  • "Classical Rap" - this parody by Peter Schickele, on his album "P.D.Q. Bach: Oedipus Tex & Other Choral Calamities", describes the travails of living on the Upper West Side, as a Yuppie chants hip-hop lyrics to a classical instrumental background.
  • Tom's Diner - A song by Suzanne Vega focusing on a woman on a rainy morning at Tom's Restaurant at 112th and Broadway.

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