Morningside Heights is defined by its pre-war structures, many of surpassing elegance. Riverside Drive is lined with posh co-ops that offer easy access to shopping, dining and transportation on the Broadway corridor as well as the greenery and views of Riverside Park. Farther east, along Amsterdam Avenue, buildings of a similar vintage offer less grandeur at lower prices. Befitting a neighborhood that prizes its offbeat intellectualism, there are few new high-rises or luxury condos in Morningside Heights. But what the nicer buildings may lack in flash, many make up for in character.
With the 1 subway line running under Broadway, and the Henry Hudson Parkway edging the neighborhood’s western side, Morningside Heights offers easy and reliable access to the rest of Manhattan.
Packed with perhaps more educational institutions than any other corner of New York — Columbia University, Barnard College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Manhattan School of Music, among others — Morningside Heights offers great options for younger students, too. Local parents love St. Hilda’s and St. Hughs, an independent Episcopal day school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Other private institutions, like the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School and the Trinity School, are not far away. Neighborhood public schools like P.S. 036 Margaret Douglas (at 122nd and Morningside) win high marks from students and parents.
With the neighborhood essentially sandwiched between parks, residents of Morningside Heights are never far from a playing field or a picnic spot. On the west side of the neighborhood, Riverside Park combines meandering walking paths with soccer fields, a waterfront promenade, and plenty of great benches for people-watching. On the east side, the upper edge of Morningside Park provides sweeping views of Manhattan, while playing fields and greenery fill its lower expanses.
Restaurants and Bars
All those brains need food for fuel, and in Morningside Heights, residents eat well. Perpetual favorite Community Food and Juice at 113th and Broadway serves up the best farm-to-table brunches in the neighborhood, while, down Broadway a few blocks, Max Soha does exquisite Italian at incongruously low prices. Cafe culture endures at longtime favorite haunts like the Hungarian Pastry Shop and Max Caffe’. The local bar scene is, not surprisingly, college-focused, with more upscale places like the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor and The Hamilton offering variations on the area’s dive and sports-bar theme.
Shops line the stretch of Broadway between 110th Street and 125th Street, offering household wares and clothing to residents perhaps a bit less fashion-conscious than those elsewhere on the Upper West Side. Fresh fruits, meats, and prepared foods are easily procured at the 24-hour Westside Market on Broadway and 110th or Fairway Market on 125th Street. Unsurprisingly, Morningside Heights offers at least three bookstores, including an expansive location of the uptown favorite Book Culture on 112th and Broadway. And the wide variety of Upper West Side shopping is never more than a few subway stops away.
Landmarks and Culture
Beyond the vast number of intellectual landmarks at Columbia, Barnard, and associated schools, Morningside Heights is home to two resplendent cathedrals: There’s the gigantic Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 112th and Amsterdam, noteworthy for its dramatic sculpture garden and unusual events, like a bicycle-blessing ceremony every May. At 120th and Riverside Drive stands the Riverside Church, whose huge bell tower is visible from all over Northern Manhattan. If you’re into history, Riverside Park houses a two-mile stretch of Civil War monuments culminating in the General Grant National Memorial (aka Grant’s Tomb) at 122nd and Riverside. And as you’d expect, Columbia itself offers nonstop art shows, music performances, lectures, film series, and other cultural events. Living here means you won’t have to go south to get a taste of New York City’s creative life or its historical character.