Thoughts of a (Wannabe) Travel Writer – The UWS, Part 1

Like almost every other part of the city, there was no clear end or beginning to the masses of people coming and going, Lincoln Centeronly movement; movement on the sidewalks, and in and out of buildings, movement on the streets of headlights going north and south. To say “bustling” would be an understatement and amongst it all I found it hard to believe this area was once rolling farmlands, left largely underdeveloped through most of the nineteenth century. Technically spanning from 59th street (excluding Columbus Circle) to 110th street and from Central Park West to the Hudson River, the Upper West Side (UWS) is a neighborhood of neighborhoods within neighborhoods.

As you would expect, I found that the look and feel of the UWS side was very different from that of areas downtown such as the West Village or TriBeca. However, walking the length of this relatively vast community, I found that just as many differences co-exist within these boundaries as do outside of them. The Upper West Side is no respecter of race, religion, age or color. Evidence of long-time affluence sits neatly throughout its high-rises and brownstones, while just-as-long-lived poverty occupies its footpath and underground. Just as easily, the foreigner lives out his transplanted life of traditions alongside the native who orders “coah-fee” in the morning and buys bread from a shop owned by another foreigner. At the Upper West Side’s southern-most end, I found one of the places where all of these worlds collide, Lincoln Center.

Just one of the many venerable sites that call the this section of the city home, Lincoln Center glows brightly, comfortably, and confidently from 62nd street to 65th street across several city blocks. I started my venture here, as this sort of “Mecca” of the arts, seemed like the best place to gather myself and to go out from. As I exited the subway station at 66th and Lincoln Center, I immediately noticed how the crowds here, seeming to flooding the streets like a dam suddenly broken through, were so very different to those that I would later find near the stop at 86th and Broadway. With each step nearer to my destination, the mass became more and more suitably dressed for a night at the opera. Equaling the number of these only, were the numbers tourists who had come from undisclosed places to have their picture taken on the lit stairs of this iconic building. Here you’d never know that the majority of this New York neighborhood is considered residential. In fact, the beauty of this site begs one to believe that the whole of the city, let alone the rest of the Upper West Side are just as whimsically lit and pristine. I snapped a few photos of the scene in order to hold onto a moment that I wished I had planned better for, if I had, perhaps I might have been sharing it with someone else. But alone as I was, I made a mental note to come back, more prepared and with a date, and moved on.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. liachristilautomo says:

    Ah I miss my old neighborhood..lol..

    but yes Nicole, you are right about UWS. there’s something different with UWS in terms of the residents and the surroundings. I like the fact that it is more artsy and more down to earth compare to the other section of Manhattan (Upper East Side). One thing I like about UWS is it has Riverside Park where it’s so pretty in winter time especially when the snow hits the ground.

    speaking of ‘coah-fee’, Cafe Lalo on 83rd and Amsterdam has the best cappuccino (easily beats S’bucks) in UWS — if not in NYC. 🙂

    1. nicolelundergan says:

      @liachristilautomo What neighborhood is your old neighborhood?

      I’m glad you agree about the UWS – I lived there for about 2 years and it was wonderful! I really really enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the location. I miss the days of doing my morning run in Riverside park. It is also one of my favorite things about this area!

      AND Cafe Lalo! Have you seen the movie You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?? THIS is the cafe where they meet when she is waiting for him but she doesn’t know it is him she is waiting for and he pretends to not be her date! Also, Riverside park, in the more uptown section near 91st street is where they finally meet at the end of the movie and she discovers it has been him all along! This is one of my all-time favorite movies! Which is probably part of the reason I love the UWS so much! 🙂

      1. liachristilautomo says:

        Hi Nicole,
        well UWS used to be my old neighborhood — i lived on 106th and Broadway for about 2.5 years before i moved to Queens.

        yes I have seen You’ve Got Mail (in fact i saw it again on dvd last Sunday) and there’s no reason not to put that movie in like top 10 most romantic movie of all time. 🙂 i also love UWS because Zabar’s is there — cheap good cheeses 🙂 now i wish i still live in UWS.

  2. sunnyfromchina says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Your articles always make me think a lot and I like the way you speak it out.
    I still remember that last year there were a lot of thanks giving eggs in UWS and it was one of my best memories of NYC.
    Thank you for your share which reminds me of that~

    1. nicolelundergan says:

      @sunnyfromchina Hello Sunny! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog! I too have so many great memories from this area of New York. 🙂
      If you ever get the chance, I would recommend you go to Riverside park in the spring or summer! It is truly a beautiful area! 🙂

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