A Little Bit of Country Right in the City

The Upper East Side has long been the neighborhood for Manhattan’s upper crust. It has variously been referred to as the “Gold Coast” of the city and the “Silk Stocking District” this last name deriving from the fact that wealthy people who dress well live in this area.

The neighborhood continues to be home to some of the city’s wealthiest families. With the revitalization of many downtown areas, the Upper East Side is not quite as expensive as it was at one time, although prices are still out of the reach of most middle income families. However, if you look carefully and are willing to make do with a walk up, you can still find some good deals.

The Upper East Side covers a relatively large area and extends form the East Driver to 5th Avenue and 59th Street to 96th Street. The area is composed of many types of buildings, brownstones, new residential developments, large pre-war co-ops, town homes, and mansions that line the block between Fifth and Park Avenues.

The schools in the area are excellent which make it an attractive housing option for young families. There is the Dalton School that occupies three adjacent town homes on East 91st Street, The Spence School, also on East 91st Street, and the Rudolph Steiner School, with two branches: the upper school on East 78th and the lower school on East 79th. What is widely considered to be the best elementary public school in Manhattan is also located in this neighborhood, P.S. 6 (a.k.a. The Lillie Devereaux Blake School) located on East 81 Street.

The area is rich in culture with several museums situated along Museum Mile which extends along Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street. Along this mile is the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 82nd Street, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on 88th Street (octagon-shaped building), The Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design on 91st Street, the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street, the Museum of the City of New York on on 103rd Street, and the El Museo del Barrio on 104th Street. A fun event is the Museum Mile Festival in June when Fifth Avenue is closed to traffic and the museums are open to the public. There are also many street performers and musicians providing added entertainment.

There are restaurants and clubs galore for every budget. My absolute favorite is Tony’s Italian Restaurant between 81st and 82nd Street on Third Avenue. The food is great, the portions huge, and the prices affordable. There is outdoor dining during the warmer months. Dangerfield’s Comedy Club (named after renowned comedian Rodney Dangerfield) is located on 61st Street and First Avenue is a fun place to watch a show by both new and established comedians. Jerry Seinfeld got his start at this place.

Shopping is fabulous along 86th Street and Lexington Avenue with both small boutiques and larger chains. There are also many vendors on the street selling everything from jewelry to books and crafts. If you like books, a new Barnes and Noble opened on 86th between Third and Lexington Avnue. The store offers an open floor plan with ample room to grab a seat and peruse some books or magazines. There is also a nice size Barnes and Noble cafe (technically a licensed Starbucks). coIia are a reder

Transportation is a bit of a hassle with the only choice (for now) being the 4, 5, or 6 trian on Lexington Avenue. The Second Avenue subway has been under construction for the past few years (which makes living along and near avenue a bit of nightmare) but is not scheduled to be completed anytime soon).

I once lived on East 87th Street off East End Avenue and really liked the fact that I had the best of both worlds: a little bit of country in the city. The farther you get from Lexington Avenue the less expensive the rents so aside from enjoying a country-like living experience, my rent was also fairly reasonable.