With its plethora of major cultural and educational institutions like Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, General Grant National Memorial (a.k.a. Grant’s Tomb), Barnard College, Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, it’s easy to forget that the Upper West Side of Manhattan is primarily a residential neighborhood. Block after block you’ll find stately prewar architecture, opulent coops and condos and classic four and five story residences sandwiched between lavish parks, luxury hotels, sophisticated boutiques and haute cuisine restaurants.
Beloved television characters from Seinfeld, Will & Grace and 30 Rock as well as twisted ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) from the Oscar winning film Black Swan and yuppie serial killer Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) from the 2000 thriller American Psycho all had Upper West Side addresses. It’s also home to the renowned Dakota, the apartment building where musician John Lennon was murdered and provided the setting for the 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby.
The historic neighborhood is bordered by Central Park to the east, the Hudson River to the West and 59th Street on the south. Its’ northern boundary is slightly more ambiguous. Historically it has been cited as 110th Street but oftentimes it is considered 125th Street by real estate agents to use the tony neighborhood when listing properties that includes Morningside Heights. Boundary disputes aside, within this area you’ll find some of Manhattan’s priciest and most desirable real estate.
The Upper West Side, is similar to most New York City neighborhoods in the way that it has undergone drastic changes.
In the early and mid-seventeenth century, the Upper West Side was settled by Dutch immigrants. The Dutch dubbed the area from about 23rd Street to Hollow Way (currently 125th Street) Bloemendaal, though it was later changed to the anglicized Bloomingdale or Bloomingdale District.