With its plethora of major cultural and educational institutions like Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 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 co-ops and condos and classic four and five story residences sandwiched between lavish parks, luxury hotels, sophisticated boutiques and haute cuisine restaurants.
TV characters Seinfeld and Will & Grace and Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) from the sitcom 30 Rock as well as ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) from the Oscar-winning film Black Swanand 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 shot and Rosemary’s baby was born.
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, however, 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.