The Upper West Side offers some of Manhattan’s quintessential brownstones, along with many co-op buildings of 10-15 stories. Thick walls, character-rich details, and prewar solidity prevail, and in some areas there are relatively few newer high-rises. Along Central Park West, you’ll find iconic NYC residential buildings like The Dakota, The Beresford, and the striking, twin-towered San Remo — along with famous residents like Steven Spielberg and Yoko Ono. The Upper West Side has long been home to successful creative types like writers, actors, and professors, though it’s lately known as a first-choice neighborhood for families raising children in New York.
With service from subway lines 1, 2, 3, A, C, B, and D numerous north-south and crosstown buses, and access to Henry Hudson Parkway, the Upper West Side is among the most accessible neighborhoods above 59th Street.
The Upper West Side features more than six dozen primary and secondary schools, including some of the city’s most highly regarded public and private institutions. Exemplary public schools include PS 9 Sarah Anderson on West 84th Street, and the nearby MS 243 Center School, both of which receive a GreatSchools rating of 10 out of 10. The Upper West Side also has more than its share of elite private academies, such as the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, the Collegiate School, and Trinity School.
With Central Park on one side of the neighborhood, and Riverside Park on the other, the Upper West Side is a great location for those inclined toward the outdoors. Both parks offer numerous playing fields and plentiful paths for weekend strolling or early morning jogs.
Restaurants and Bars
Foodies won’t struggle to find excellent dining options on the Upper West Side. The Lincoln Square sub-neighborhood is home to Bar Boulud, chef Daniel Boulud’s inventive French bistro, along with The Smith, a reliable purveyor of comfort food and cocktails — both of which sit just opposite the high-culture temple of Lincoln Center. The Neapolitan kitchen Celeste is a perpetual critic’s favorite and home to perhaps the Upper West Side’s best pizza. Heaping platters of biscuits and fried chicken at Jacob’s Pickles draw brunch enthusiasts from all over Manhattan. And while the bar scene on the Upper West Side may be more laid back than elsewhere, newer watering holes like E’s Bar and Joe’s Bar have earned locals’ loyalty, while established spots like Dublin House offer some Old New York charm.
Great shopping options line the Upper West Side’s Broadway Corridor. For food, there’s Fairway Market, Zabar’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Citarella. For clothing, the neighborhood has its own locations of Barney’s, Patagonia, Designer Shoe Warehouse, and the Gap. Book Culture offers bags, greeting cards, and unusual home goods along with almost everything you could ever want to read. The Upper West Side even has its own Apple Store.
Landmarks and Culture
For a largely residential neighborhood, the Upper West Side contains a striking number of first-rate cultural attractions. Lincoln Center,  at 66th and Broadway, is home to the New York City Ballet, The Metropolitan Opera, and The New York Philharmonic, along with Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. At 81st and Central Park West sits the American Museum of Natural History, a palace of dinosaur skeletons and exotic dioramas that also houses the Hayden Planetarium. Other neighborhood cultural attractions include the New York Historical Society, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and, just a bit to the north, the libraries and cultural activities of Columbia University. There’s enough happening just on the Upper West Side to keep you busy for years.
The Upper West Side encompasses roughly four sub-neighborhoods, each of which has its own special character and amenities. On the southern end, Lincoln Square, the area between 59th and 72nd streets, surrounds Lincoln Center and draws residents with its world-class cultural events, high-end shopping, and newer, taller buildings. North of 72nd Street, the Upper West Side proper runs to 110th Street between Central Park and the Hudson River. On its northeastern flank lies a sub-neighborhood known Manhattan Valley, named for its naturally lower elevation, which runs from 100th Street to 110th Street between Broadway and Central Park. Stretching north from 110th Street to 125th Street, between Riverside Drive and Morningside Drive, Morningside Heights is home to Columbia University and remains popular with professors, creative types, and residents looking for access to the best of the Upper West Side at slightly lower prices.