This area did not begin to develop until the 1870s, when the 9th Avenue El went up, making it possible to commute to midtown. When the Dakota, New York’s first luxury apartment building, was completed in 1884, it was followed by others on Central Park West and Broadway, while side streets were filled with handsome brownstones. The West Side remains a desirable neighborhood with a reputation for attracting intellectuals, and much of the city’s best residential architecture. The creation of Lincoln Center in the 1950s was a great boost, and the American Museum of Natural History is also a draw.

Upper West Side Architecture

The Upper West Side’s side streets are lined with fine rows of the brownstones favored by New York’s 19th-century middle classes. Built of inexpensive, local, brown sandstone, the narrow buildings are typically three or four stories high, and have a flight of steps called a “stoop” leading to the living floors.

Apartment buildings

  1. American Museum of Natural History

    The mammoth museum’s holdings include 32 million artifacts .

    Natural History Museum seen from gardens
  2. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

    Built on 15 acres during the 1950s, transforming slums into a giant cultural complex, the Lincoln Center houses an array of venues: the Metropolitan Opera; the New York City Opera and Ballet; the New York Philharmonic; the Lincoln Center and Walter Reade theaters; Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Hall; and the Julliard School. In the summer, popular Mostly Mozart concerts take place, and free concerts are held in the adjacent park. In October 2004, Jazz at Lincoln Center moved into a new headquarters in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle.

    • Columbus to Amsterdam Aves, between 62nd & 66th Sts

    • Tours twice daily

    • Admission charge

    Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  3. New-York Historical Society

    New York’s oldest museum, founded in 1804, has organized much of its vast collection into the 4th floor Henry Luce III Center, which displays 40,000 objects divided into areas such as paintings, sculpture, furniture, silver, tools, and, notably, Tiffany lamps. Other galleries are used for changing exhibits. The society also maintains a research library.

    • 2 West 77th St at Central Park West

    • Open 10am–6pm Tue–Sat (to 8pm Fri), 11am–5:45pm Sun; Library 10am–5pm Tue–Sat (Tue–Fri in summer)


    • Admission charge

  4. Columbus Circle

    One of the largest building projects in New York’s history is transforming this neglected urban plaza into an important public site. The redevelopment has attracted national and international businesses, such as giant media company Time Warner, which now has its headquarters in an 80-storey skyscraper. The building contains shops, entertainment, restaurants, and the Mandarin Oriental hotel. It is also the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, the world’s first performing arts facility dedicated to jazz. Other structures around Columbus Circle include Hearst House, Trump International Hotel, and the Maine Monument.

    • Columbus Circle

  5. Pomander Walk

    This double row of small brick and stucco, timbered, Tudoresque townhouses, hidden on a private street, is one of the many delightful surprises to be discovered in Manhattan. The developer, a restaurateur named Thomas Healy, took his inspiration in 1921 from the sets used for a popular play by Lewis Parker called Pomander Walk, hoping to recreate the village atmosphere depicted in the play. Gloria Swanson, Rosalind Russell, and Humphrey Bogart are among the players who have lived here.

    • 261–7 West 94th St, between Broadway & West End Ave

    House façade, Pomander Walk
  6. Riverside Park

    Another example of the landscape genius of Frederick Law Olmsted, a woodsy, hilly band of green planned in 1873, following curving Riverside Drive for 70 blocks and hiding the abandoned railroad tracks below. Playgrounds, sports fields, a promenade, and monuments were added later. The impressive 1902 marble Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at 89th Street, a memorial to those who died in the Civil War, was modeled after the Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.

    • Riverside Drive, 72nd to 155th Sts

    • Open 6am–1am daily

    • Free

    Riverside Park Gardens

    Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
  7. Riverside Drive/West End Historic District

    A walk through this historic area showcases the late 19th-century townhouses that characterize the Upper West Side. West 88th Street is a good example. The earliest houses, Nos. 267–71, were built in 1884. Nos. 302–38, dating from the early 1890s, have stepped gables and Roman brick, while Nos. 315–23, built around 1896, have bow fronts in brown or white stone. The Yeshiva Ketana School, at 346 West 89th Street, begun in 1901 by Herts and Tallant, occupies one of the few surviving mansions that once lined Riverside Drive.

    • Between Riverside Drive & West End Ave, 85th & 95th Sts

  8. Children’s Museum of Manhattan

    Founded in 1973, in a former school building, this is a museum dedicated to the principle that children learn best through self-discovery. It uses a variety of participatory activities and fantasy world environments to engage its young visitors in learning that is fun. The Tisch Building, as the museum is known, has been renovated in a $6.5 million expansion headed by the museum chairman, Laurie Tisch Sussman. The museum’s many activities include exhibits to intrigue older children, while Playworks and Adventures with Dora and Diego provide distraction for newborns to four year olds .

    • 212 West 83rd St at Broadway

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sun


    • Admission charge

  9. Zabar’s

    A monument to New York’s mania for finding the best foods and a landmark since 1934, this always-crowded market sells smoked salmon, sturgeon, and other Jewish delicacies, wonderful bread, desserts, coffee, and cheeses, and big selections of oils, vinegars, olives, and gourmet gift baskets. The second floor is filled with cooking equipment, and the adjacent coffee counter at the 80th Street corner offers delicious baked goods, sandwiches, coffees and smoothie drinks.

    • 2245 Broadway at 80th St

  10. Green Flea Market/77th Street Flea Market

    Flea market junkies throng this school yard every Sunday, hoping for finds from among the piles of vintage clothing, crafts, books, jewelry, prints, and all manner of memorabilia. Less glamorous, new merchandise, from socks to T-shirts, is also sold here. On a good day as many as 300 booths crowd the premises. A weekly green market shares the same space.

    • I.S.44, 77th St at Columbus Ave

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