When New York’s upper crust moved uptown a century ago, their destination was the Upper East Side, and it is still the address of choice for many wealthy families. Most of the older Beaux Arts mansions around 5th Avenue are now occupied by embassies or museums; today’s elite live in the solid apartment buildings that went up on 5th and Park Avenues, convenient for patronizing the boutiques on Madison, the city’s most exclusive shopping street. Only churches and a few restaurants remain of German Yorkville or the Hungarian and Czech neighborhoods that used to fill the blocks east of Lexington. Young families now occupy the newer buildings in this area. For visitors, the Upper East Side is home to many of the city’s best museums.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

An unexpected bit of Russia, this building was constructed in 1902 in Muscovite Baroque style with a façade of red brick, white stone, and blue and yellow tiles. The incense-filled interior has marble columns and an altar enclosed by wooden screens trimmed with gold. Mass is still said in Russian. It is located at 15 East 97th Street.

  1. Central Park

    The 843-acre swathe of green provides recreation and beauty for more than two million visitors each year .

  2. Metropolitan Museum of Art

    More a collection of museums, spanning 5,000 years of global culture .

  3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

    A notable collection of modern art set in Frank Lloyd Wright’s only New York building .

  4. Museum Mile

    Nine museums are situated within one convenient mile. They unite for a free open house day one Tuesday in June. Participants include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Academy of Fine Arts, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, Jewish Museum, Neue Gallery for German and Austrian Art, Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo del Barrio.

    • 5th Ave from 82nd to 104th Sts

    • Opening times vary

    Museum of the City of New York
  5. Bridgemarket

    Britain’s Sir Terence Conran was a major player in the development of this cathedral-like space beneath the 59th Street bridge. The vaults are among the most dramatic works by Rafael Guastavino, a Spanish architect noted for his use of Catalan-style tiling. Beneath the grand ceilings are a restaurant and a Food Emporium market. The complex, which is responsible for the rapid revitalization of the neighborhood, also includes the Conran Shop for high-end home decor, and a public plaza.

    • 59th Sts, between 1st & York Aves

  6. Roosevelt Island

    A four-minute tram ride is the route to this East River enclave. Once known as “Welfare Island,” when it was home to a prison, poor house, and hospital for the insane, the 147-acre island was renamed and redeveloped in the 1970s according to a master plan drawn up by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, intended to create a quiet, almost traffic-free residential community. The plan was not fully developed, although more than 3,000 apartments were built, and while there is a subway stop from Manhattan, the only auto access is via a bridge in Queens.

    • Trams every 15 mins from TramPlaza, 2nd Ave at 59th St

  7. Park Avenue Armory

    The socially prominent members of the Seventh Regiment, formed in 1806 constructed a remarkable armory in 1877–89, with a drill room 200 by 300 feet (60 by 90 m) and 100 feet (30 m) high, and an administration building in the form of a medieval fortress. Interior decoration was by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, and others, and the result is opulent rooms with lavish Victorian furnishings. The drill room is used for the prestigious Winter Antiques Show every January, as well as for many society charity balls. A $150-million renovation project is underway to convert the armory into a center for arts and education.

    • 643 Park Ave at 66th St

    • 212 616 3937

    • Call to make an appointment to visit

    Park Avenue Armory
  8. Henderson Place Historic District

    Built in 1881 by the developer John C. Henderson for “persons of moderate means,” these winning Queen Anne houses made of brick and stone are embellished with towers, bays, gables, dormers, and slate roofs. They were an investment and remained in Henderson’s family until the 20th century. Today they are unique in the city and rank among the most desirable places to live. Each block front was composed as a unit, with small towers at the end. Twenty-four of the original 32 units remain.

    • East End Ave, between 86th & 87th sts

    Henderson Place Historic District
  9. Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park

    The wooden country home built by merchant Archibald Gracie in 1799 was the original home of the Museum of the City of New York and became the official residence of Mayor under Fiorello LaGuardia in 1942. It is located at the northern end of a park laid out in 1891, with a wide promenade that stretches along the East River. The park was named for a statesman and newspaper editor who lived in the neighborhood.

    • East End Ave at 88th St

    • 212 639 9675

    • Open Apr–mid Nov, tours at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm; Wed for pre-booked tours

    • Admission charge

    River promenade

    Official residence of the Mayor of New York
  10. Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Gardens

    This was the stone carriage house of a 1799 estate. When the house burned in 1826, the carriage house was converted into an inn and became a fashionable resort for New Yorkers who wanted to escape to what was then still countryside. The building and garden were restored by the Colonial Dames of America in 1939, and furnished with historic objects. Guides explain the unique history of the attraction.

    • 421 East 61st St, between 1st & York Aves

    • Open 11am–4pm Tue–Sun, closed August, public holidays

    • Admission charge


    Mount Vernon
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