Out of all the neighborhoods across the city, none captures the true essence of the Big Apple🍎, better than the family-oriented, dog-loving, movie-making Upper West Side. This subsection of the city, wedged between Central Park and Riverside, holds a wealth of schools, scenery, and an aesthetic that makes this the most tight-knit community in NYC. Whether directly, through a friend, or from word of mouth, everybody from the Upper West Side knows each other. As Pusha T classically states, "If You Know You Know". That's the only way to sum it up.
The Upper West Side has also risen to be one of the hotspots for tourists visiting from all over the world. With multiple hotels, Airbnb options, and great public transportation, this neighborhood is perfect for people wanting to see the best parts of the city. As a result, let’s take a dive into the Upper West Side’s city profile.
Location🏡: 66th-110th Street
Population🏃♂️ : 214,744
Mood👨👩👧👦: Family Oriented
Carmines, Flor De Mayo, Jacob’s Pickle
Ever dream of sitting in an Italian restaurant mafia-style, like you're in one of those Scorsese films? Welcome to Carmine's! Located on 91st and Broadway, Carmine's serves some of the best Italian food the city has to offer. This is definitely a go-to for the UWS natives who've kept Carmine's in business for the last 30 years. The best thing about Carmine's is that you'll always leave with leftovers.
Flor De Mayo, the pioneers of Chino-Latino cuisine, has one of the most diverse menus I've laid my eyes on. From Chicken & Broccoli to Rice & Beans, this restaurant's sure to serve something that'll satisfy anyone's palate. With two locations in the UWS, this is a great option for date-night with you and your lady. Also, I guarantee the drinks are fire.
Once the hangover begins to fade, and you're finally ready for that mid-day meal, go to Jacob's Pickle. Don't ask why. Just. Go. Located on 85th and Amsterdam, this southern restaurant has some of the best food in New York. It's a great place to finish a long weekend in the city, because honestly, what would millennials do without brunch?
Blow A Bag💰
Though not known for its shopping scene, the Upper West Side holds one shop that locals cherish as their own: WEST NYC. Mainly known as a shoe store, WEST NYC supplies some of the dopest apparel in the city. From suede Wallabees to white Vans WEST has an assortment of clothes and a chic store that compliments the local brand.
Jake’s Dilemma & The Gin Mill
Remember coming home from college after turning 21, and going to that one bar you knew everyone from your hometown was going to be at? That's Jake's Dilemma. The prices are perfect, especially during happy hour. The food is great, considering it's still a bar. Plus, they also have games like Jenga and Connect Four, which you and your friends can enjoy over drinks. Definitely a great vibe and a good environment to drink with friends🍻!
Located right across the street from Jake's Dilemma, on 83rd and Amsterdam, is The Gin Mill. Holding a similar crowd than Jake's, the Gin Mill provides the same affordable prices and good eats. I'm sure these two bars are owned by the same individuals but don't quote me on that 😂!
Gray’s Papaya & The Hallal Guys
The 72nd Street Gray"s Papaya has to be the most famous Hot Dog place in the world. This fast-food restaurant has been in The Joker, The Warriors, You've Got Mail, Sex & The City, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, and more. Located on the corner of 72nd and Broadway, Gray's has been there forever and will definitely be there forever 🌭.
Whether we're talking about an actual store or just the carts, The Halal Guys are considered a top-notch NYC delicacy. Once you taste this, you'll fall in love so proceed with caution. This is the perfect meal after a long night of drinking and partying, and I swear it cures hangovers. Trust me. At the root of it all, The Halal Guys is kind of like the hood version of falafel, to be honest 🤣. It's like the Ock started serving fast-food outta nowhere.
Taking A Walk?🌲
Strawberry Fields, The Great Lawn, The Boat Basin
The UWS's Strawberry Fields is in dedication to John Lennon who lived and died only a block away from the garden. Nothing compares to the death of an artist willing to give their blood, sweat, and tears to their craft and fans. Strawberry Fields, located on 72nd Street and Central Park West, was created in the honor of the great legend that passed away and a song he wrote about his childhood in Liverpool. Recently, our generation has had our share of lives gone way too soon, so in honor of John Lennon and all that he's left behind, anyone whoever comes to visit the UWS should pay their respects.
Located in the middle of Central Park, The Great Lawn holds a 360-degree skyline of New York City that is must-see. It has 6 baseball fields, a basketball court nearby, and at the bottom of the lawn is a castle. The scenery is amazing and view is unbelievable making it a great place to throw a frisbee, picnic with friends, or just take a walk.
Sitting right on the Hudson River, the Boat Basin is a great place to walk to while exploring Riverside Park. There's a fleet of boats sitting right across from a cafe serving drinks and amazing food. With New Jersey right across the river, this definitely marks a nice evening for the average explorer.
Who Got Next?🏀
The Great Lawn Courts, Riverside (103rd/77th), Under The Highway (70th)
The city is known for basketball courts being everywhere, but in the UWS there are only a few courts where you'll hear the words "Who Got Next?". First, The Great Lawn Courts in Central Park. These courts are where High-School kids who are about to go D1 meet streetballers who rarely call foul. In other words, if you come to play ball here, you best come correct.
Riverside Park has a ton of basketball courts along the Hudson River, but two stand out the most. The first court is located on 103rd street and holds four full courts and two half courts. This is more than enough to arrive any day at any time and be guaranteed an opportunity to ball out. The other court is on 72nd street and although there aren't as many hoops, the competition is much fiercer here. This court is known as the practicing grounds for local boot camps and basketball teams, as a result, you won't find many scrubs playing here.
The last courts to mention are the "If You Know You Know" courts, located under the highway on 70th street. These courts are usually infested with locals determined to play to the death. The dusty residue from the highway collects on these slippery courts but doesn't deter anyone from playing.
The Natural History Museum & Shakespeare In The Park
The Natural History Museum, established in 1869, stands as the main attraction for many visitors and residents in the Upper West Side. The museum includes The Hayden Planetarium, a Space theatre floating within the museum, which has many shows explaining the history of space. This specific exhibit is perfect for families and couples, but also great for potheads looking to capitalize on a euphoric high. Like many museums, the Natural History Museum holds some of the most compelling artifacts in the world, but none better than reconstructions of extinct animals like the one featured above.
Central Park, spanning more than a mile, has many great spots that display the artistic side of the City, but none compare to Shakespeare In The Park. Located right below the Great Lawn, the Delacorte theatre holds Shakespeare plays that attract tourists from all over. The most outrageous part of the plays is that they are FREE. This is definitely a pride and joy of the UWS, especially knowing that the Waffle & Dinges cart is right next to the theatre.
If you really want to understand the life of the average New Yorker.
Visit the Upper West Side.
In fact, ask them yourself!
Look out for City Profiles every other Wednesday and comment below where you would like to see the next one 😎