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 110th Street. The Upper West Side is sometimes also considered by the real estate industry to include the neighborhood of Morningside Heights.
Like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is an affluent, primarily residential area with many of its residents working in more commercial areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. It has the reputation of being home to New York City’s cultural, intellectual hub (with Columbia University located at the north end of the neighborhood), and artistic workers (with Lincoln Center located at the south end), while the Upper East Side is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types.
The neighborhood is also abbreviated “UWS”.
Upper West Side is bounded on the south by 59th 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. 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, 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 other avenues at the south end of the neighborhood; above 78th Street Broadway runs north parallel to the other avenues. Broadway enters the neighborhood at its juncture with Central Park West at Columbus Circle (59th Street), crosses Columbus Avenue at Lincoln Square (65th Street), Amsterdam Avenue at Verdi Square (71st Street), and then merges with West End Avenue 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.
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 the city 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, which included 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 community’s links to the events of September 11, 2001 were evinced in Upper West Side resident and 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.
Today, this area is 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 Avenue. 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.
As of 2010, Manhattan Community Board 7 has a population of 209,084, which is down from 210,993 in 1990. Of the population, 140,850 (67.4%) are White non Hispanic, 31,347 (15%) of Hispanic origin, 15,834 (7.6%) are African American, 15,988 (7.6%) Asian or Pacific Islander, 221 (0.1%) American Indian or Native Alaskan, 671 (0.3%) of some other race, 4,173 (2%) of two or more race.
Approximately 12.2% of the population benefits from public assistance as of 2012.
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 addresses in Manhattan.
In Popular Culture
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.
Community Board 7
Community Board 7 (CB7) deals with land use and zoning matters, the City budget, municipal service delivery, and multiple community concerns of the Upper West Side. CB7 covers the Upper West Side from 59th/60th Streets to 110th Street. NYPD Precincts 20 and 24 are in CB7’s area.
New York City’s Community Boards review data collected by the 311 Customer Service Center. 3-1-1 (3-1-1) is a non-emergency telephone number, and New York City releases monthly reports on the number of requests for services to 311.
In CB7, 80% of the calls to 311 are either building complaints, noise complaints, city property damage/complaints, and lost and found property. The composition of the calls to 311 vary on a monthly basis due to weather. For instance, there were 79 total calls to 311 in October 2012 regarding damaged or dead trees in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which reached New York City at the end of that month. In the next month, daily calls regarding trees dropped 25%, while daily calls regarding heating increased 58%. The largest number of calls to 311 in the most recent reporting month of November 2012 were referenced to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development regarding heating. The next highest was for residential noise complaints.
Precinct 20 covers the Upper West Side from 59th Street to 86th Street. This precinct area also includes Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs) for the Upper West Side (mn12) and Lincoln Square (mn14).
Recent data indicates that crime, after declining steadily for many years, bottomed in 2011. Information from the NYPD indicates total crime complaints have increased approximately 15% in the last year. Citywide crime complaints have increased 4%. This tabulation includes all types of crime complaints, from murders to petit larceny. Crime complaints increased this year in Precinct 20 for almost all of the CompStat categories, except for misdemeanor assaults. There were 2,058 crime complaints year-to-date as of November 25, 2012, up from 1,789 crime complaints in the same time period a year ago.
From 2000 to 2010 the population in precinct 20 increased by 1,674 people, up 1% annually. In comparison, but not in exactly the same time period, crime complaints decreased by 2% annually from 2001 to 2011.