The Upper West Side is one of the most family-oriented residential neighborhoods in New York. Initially settled by upper-class Jewish families, the area has long been a welcome haven for young professionals and those with an artistic bent. Apartments in this neighborhood have ample access to plenty of stores and markets (including the renowned Zabar's on Broadway between 80th and 81st Streets), public transportation, great public schools, and two major parks.
There have always been a number of shops and restaurants in this region, and the strong economy in recent years has only contributed to their proliferation. Both Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues are probably the best examples of this trend. Each thoroughfare does brisk business on weekends, especially during the summer months.
Compared to the manic pace of the West Village and Midtown West, however, the area is relatively placid, but hardly devoid of excitement. The Upper West Side contains Lincoln Center, one of the most important cultural centers in Manhattan.
Five major performing groups are housed in the three main buildings that face the fountain, and the nearby Juillard School, which consistently graduates top performers in music, theater and dance, hosts a number of inexpensive and sometimes free productions throughout the school year.
For sunny Sunday afternoons, Central Park may seem like the natural locale in which Upper West Siders might choose to spend a Sunday afternoon. Nonetheless, many residents prefer the slightly less popular but just as beautiful Riverside Park. Riverside Park may not be as wide as Central Park, but it is considerably longer, winding its way from 72nd Street all the way to 159th. Despite the fact that the West Side Highway runs almost directly through its center, Riverside has become a favorite with locals seeking to get out of their apartments for a while.
Hugging the curves along Riverside Park's eastern edge is Riverside Drive, the only major thoroughfare in Manhattan to consistently deviate from the straight and narrow. The brownstones and apartment complexes that line Riverside Drive's east side are especially prized for their magnificent views of the park.
While it may not boast a park view, West End Avenue remains the neighborhood's most sought-after address. The street is lined with beautiful apartment buildings of varying sizes, each more picturesque than the last. And since most of the traffic in the area travels up and down Broadway, it remains relatively quiet no matter what time of day it may be.
Although many of Manhattan's neighborhoods have had their ups and downs, the majority of Central Park West is just as prestigious a place to own or rent a New York apartment now as it was decades ago. Towering over Central Park like a vast wall of monoliths, the buildings present both a literal and figurative pinnacle in the quest to reach the top in New York City.
Of course, the main attraction for those who seek apartments on Central Park West is the unparalleled view of the park. While most other city denizens prefer to live close to the ground in order to avoid those grueling walk-ups, on Central Park West, the higher you are the better. The reason is instantly apparent once you look out over the swath of green all the way over to Museum Mile on the other side.
Central Park West begins as one of the offshoots at Columbus Circle with the ultra-luxurious Trump International Hotel and Towers. Donald Trump purchased the decaying building in the early 90s and completely refurbished it. Now it presents a reflective glass exterior behind which are housed a five-star restaurant, luxury apartments, and some of the poshest hotel rooms in the tri-state area.
On the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West stands the Dakota. Although the castle-like building-complete with dry moat-has long been a favorite among the famous, it is now notorious as the place where John Lennon was shot.
Walk further north and you'll soon come to the four-block sprawl of the American Museum of Natural History. The museum contains many reproductions of animal habitats and some truly monstrous gems, but the main attraction, especially for children, is most definitely the dinosaurs.
One asset that Central Park West residents enjoy as a result of the magnificent location is the proximity of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Those lucky enough to have an apartment on Central Park West needn't worry about crowds or inclement weather, as the route goes directly past their windows. Many residents get into the spirit of the day by inviting other New York residents over to watch the festivities.
Because of the combination of amenities and location, apartment vacancies in Central Park West are not the easiest to come by. Those willing to make the investment, however, will find the dividends more than make up for the expense.
There's a very good reason that this area bears Andrew Carnegie's name. Near the turn of the century, when the area was considered the frontier of the city, Carnegie decided he would build himself a place to get away from the bustle of downtown. Unfortunately, the plan backfired. Other members of the upper class, seeing Carnegie's new mansion as a brave statement, followed him uptown.
Not long after moving to his new estate, the steel magnate found himself in the center of it all once again. Because of all the new money coming into the neighborhood, the character of it changed significantly. Gone were many of the row houses and tenements. In their place sprang up mansions and luxury apartment complexes.
Now, a significant portion of this section has been designated an historic district in order to prevent further development. Simply walking and examining the varying styles, from Federalist to Romanesque, it isn't difficult to see why these buildings should be preserved. Be sure to look carefully, as many of the facades contain intricate carvings that you won't see on most modern architecture.
Recently, many upscale retailers have been taking advantage of the significant amount of buying power common for this area. The area on 86th Street now does a brisk tourist business on the weekends, as the well-to-do from miles around come here to make a contribution to the local economy.
Because the 4, 5, and 6 subway line is the only one to service the whole of the Upper East Side, most people who want an apartment in Carnegie Hill need to have the gumption to withstand crowded commutes. While the tourist trade is quite brisk on the major thoroughfares, it is virtually nonexistent once you walk a few blocks deeper. This makes Carnegie Hill an ideal place to live for those people who value their privacy, but also like to be close to the many conveniences that New York has to offer.
The neighborhoods that make up the Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, and the Lower Upper East Side-are synonymous with the wealthy residents that have made this section of Manhattan their home over the last century. Only Yorkville, however, can state that they have what is probably the most sought-after address in all of New York City.
Despite its upscale appearance, part of this district had rather modest beginnings. With the construction of the Third Avenue elevated subway line near the turn of the century, the area became a second haven to many German immigrants who were being slowly displaced from their downtown residences.
Once the trains went underground, the area became a great deal more isolated. Eventually, the German section of Yorkville began shrinking. Although most of those former residents have since moved on, there is still a thriving pocket of inhabitants who speak German to this day.
One thing that the Germans have left behind for the rest of Manhattan to sample is their rich food heritage. Second Avenue between 84th and 86th Streets is still the heart of German cuisine. You can take your pick of sausages at Schaller and Weber, Black Forest Cake at Kramer's Pastries, or your choice of beers at Heidelberg.
Perhaps the most famous German immigrant to live in Yorkville was Carl Schurz. After being a minister to Spain, a Union Army general, and Secretary of the Interior under President Rutherford Hayes, Schurz moved back to Yorkville, where he worked as an editor for the New York Evening Post and Harper's Weekly. East End Park was renamed Carl Schurz Park in 1911 in his honor.
Speaking of His Honor, the most coveted address in New York City happens to be in Carl Schurz Park: Gracie Mansion. Home of most New York City mayors since Fiorello LaGuardia first moved in during the Second World War, with the exception of Michael Bloomberg, the mansion's significance actually goes back much farther.
George Washington commandeered this swath of land from its owner, Jacob Walton, so that he could fortify it against the British. Ultimately, Washington didn't fortify it enough, as the British bombarded the spot from across the East River. Walton's house was one of the casualties.
The Walton family subsequently sold the property to Archibald Gracie, a recent émigré from Scotland. Gracie built his famous mansion as a country home in 1799, only to sell it less than a quarter-century later. The City of New York acquired the property almost a hundred years later, and every mayor since LaGuardia has called it home while in office. If you'd rather not depend on the electorate to see its interior, the first floor is open to the general public.
Although it isn't known if the Mayor participates, there is a strong athletic community in Yorkville. Whether your interests run from basketball to softball or football, it's likely that there's an organized team in the area that could use another player. If you prefer exercising alone, Central Park is about a ten-minute walk. Or a five-minute jog.
Because of the successive waves of new inhabitants, the apartment buildings in Yorkville range from quaint townhouses to ultra-modern apartment complexes. Interior spaces also vary from the tiny to the cavernous. With all the different varieties offered, chances are there's a combination in this area that will fit your needs perfectly.
For those looking for modern accoutrements, Madison Avenue is highly recommended. Here you'll find all sorts of tiny shops and unique boutiques filled with the latest runway trends. Of particular note is the beautiful Ralph Lauren store on 72nd Street.
Although many families in this area prefer to send their children to private schools, the public schools in this district are also exemplary. P.S. 6, on Madison and 81st Street, is highly regarded for its art and computer curriculum. Despite the fact that their K through 5 students consistently score high on standardized tests, there is still plenty of room for parents looking to enroll their children.
With doorman buildings facing Central Park, exceptional schools, and some of the best high-end shopping in the city, the Upper East Side is great for families looking for an apartment in New York.
To most New Yorkers, the word 'Midtown' is synonymous with 'Work.' And, in fact, a lot of people do commute here for business during the day. But Midtown, and especially Midtown West, is packed full with more universally-known buildings then any other district in Manhattan.
Snuggled tightly in the bosom of Midtown West is the Theater District. Over 30 theaters make their home here, and the fare varies from long-running musicals to the latest highly-touted drama, A mere block north of 42nd Street, where Seventh Avenue and Broadway intersect, is Times Square. This is where Manhattan is at its showiest. All around these blocks are massive billboards surrounded with tubes of neon in every imaginable color. It is here where hundreds of thousands of people gather every New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop.
Face east while in Bryant Park and you'll see the rear of the magnificent New York Public Library. If you think the back is impressive, then you should walk around to Fifth Avenue and see the front. You'll find two large stone lions guarding the wide steps that lead up to the great bronze doors. Inside, the books are spread out over 85 miles of shelves-many of them housed underneath Bryant Park itself.
On the west side of Fifth Avenue, between 48th and 51st Streets, are the buildings that comprise Rockefeller Plaza. Nineteen buildings make up the Plaza, almost all of which are connected by a series of underground passages. Also in the Plaza (at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 51st Street) is Radio City Music Hall, the world's largest indoor theater.
Stroll west from Fifth down the lovely promenade known as Channel Gardens to the Plaza's centerpiece, the gold-leaf statue of Prometheus that overlooks the Lower Plaza area. The Lower Plaza is given over to cafes during the summer, but come the winter months it is transformed into an ice skating rink. Every year around the holidays a gigantic live Christmas tree is stationed between Prometheus and the looming GE Building behind it.
Bustling with business people during the day, thriving with tourists and theatergoers at night, Midtown West is one area of Manhattan that barely pauses to rest. If you have an apartment in Midtown Manhattan's West Side, it is hard not to take in the lights and sounds here without feeling yourself infused with its energy.
Many people have heard of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Now you can meet Clinton, the New York Neighborhood Formerly Known as Hell's Kitchen. Actually, residents of apartments in this New York neighborhood tend to use both terms interchangeably, but there are some good reasons that many people are taking the Clinton name to heart.
At one time, the Clinton neighborhood was ruled by street gangs with an iron fist. While the power and influence of the street gangs eventually wanted, the neighborhood didn't improve once the gangs had moved on. Never a pristine neighborhood to begin with, the area descended into a veritable slum known primarily for its vast array of pornography shops.
The Worldwide Plaza was the first sign that people were once again starting to see Hell's Kitchen as a New York neighborhood into which they could invest money voluntarily. Built on a former site of Madison Square Garden, this complex takes up an entire block. Aside from providing both commercial and residential spaces, the Plaza also has a restaurant and one of the only discount movie theaters on the island.
A few blocks south of the Plaza is the famed stretch of eateries that make up New York's Restaurant Row. Because of its relative nearness to Times Square, this block is a favorite with pre- and post-theater crowds. With over twenty restaurants located here, if you can't find a cuisine that speaks to your stomach, you're probably not hungry.
One of the city's transportation hubs also makes it home in Clinton - the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Not only do buses come in and out of the all through the day and night, but there is also a parking garage on the top floors. So you can put the car away for the day, and experience the excellence of the transit system yourself!
Because of the way the area has been randomly both preserved and developed, there is no particularly prevalent building style. If you're not certain whether you would prefer a luxury high-rise apartment or a brownstone apartment, chances are you'll be able to find either of these in Clinton.
Much like Midtown West, the east side of Midtown is generally filled with business people during the day. And though this Manhattan district encompasses one of the central commuting centers, it is considerably more subdued come nightfall. Those who are looking for a less hectic version of the Midtown scene would do well to look for an apartment on Manhattan's Midt-East side.
Every morning, the main concourse of Grand Central Station is the first sight that many out-of-town commuters glance. And what a sight it is. The 12-story ceiling painted with the constellations of the zodiac gives the concourse an open, airy feel. Best of all, this stored terminal offers connections to 5 subway lines and the Metro-North commuter rail system, to say nothing of the countless nearby stops from which city buses and airport buses depart. In short, if your apartment, co-op or condo is near Grand Central, transportation throughout New York and beyond will always be accessible.
Just before 42nd Street reaches the East River, it intersects with a small thoroughfare called Tudor City Place. The eponymous apartment complex located here is notable for its large panes of stained glass. The most notable change between the construction of Tudor City and the present is the presence of the United Nations Headquarters. This 18-acre plot that hugs the East River is comprised of the Secretariat and General Assembly buildings, and a rose garden that practically begs to be strolled through.
When the workday is done, Midtown East slows its hectic pace considerably, making it a great neighborhood in which to have an apartment if you appreciate your peace and quiet. With Midtown West only blocks away, it is possible to have all the nighttime excitement of New York without having to worry about that excitement being right under where you live.
Murray Hill has long been known for its strong sense of community. Residents have fought to keep the area's distinct style intact since the middle of the 19th Century. To this day, the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association remains a vocal presence whenever developers attempt to infringe on the character of their homes and apartment buildings.
The area took its name from the first prominent residents of the community, Robert and Mary Murray. Although Robert was responsible for purchasing the land that housed their estate, it is his wife who is usually first mentioned in history books. A proper member of society, Mary Murray would hold functions for various American luminaries. Her most famous guest, however, was a British general.
After being surprised at the battle of Kips Bay, the green American militia was forced to retreat across Manhattan. Mrs. Murray, a true patriot, invited General Sir William Howe and his men to rest at their estate. As the General enjoyed a spot of tea, the Americans took advantage of the delay to regroup. They defeated the British the next day at the Battle of Harlem Heights.
When the city started to encroach on the neighborhood, Murray's descendents decided to do something about it. They submitted a registration with the city which stipulated that new residences be built only of stone or brick. The Murray Hill Restriction, as it became known, is what has kept the area in its pristine state.
One of the people who adhered to the restriction was John Pierpont Morgan, who purchased the entire eastern side of Madison Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets. His enduring legacy is the Pierpont Morgan Library, which boasts one of the finest collections of rare books and illuminated manuscripts in the world. Unfortunately, it isn't a lending library.
Benjamin Altman was the first person to build a department store in Murray Hill. Although the store took up the entire 34th and 35th Street block between Madison and Fifth Avenues, Altman maintained a certain amount of modesty. It wasn't until over 40 years later that the store's name appeared on the building.
B. Altman & Co. declared bankruptcy in the late 80s, but his store opened up Fifth Avenue to other celebrated companies, including the original Tiffany & Company. After several years of vacancy, the Altman building is now home to the Oxford University Press, the City University of New York, and a branch of the New York Public Library.
The most noted building in the district, however, doesn't exactly conform to code. Built in a little over a year beginning in 1930, the Empire State Building towers over 1,400 feet over the rest of Murray Hill. 2.5 million people a year peer out over the majority of Manhattan from its 86th and 102nd floor observatories.
One of the great novelties of the Empire State Building is best viewed from the ground several miles away. Every day at dusk, colored lights illuminate the building. The colors change to match the season or h