City Living: Classic NY on the Upper West Side 90th-99th streets

NANCY BOROWICK

NANCY BOROWICK (Credit: NANCY BOROWICK)

Ensconced between Central Park and Riverside Park, the Upper West Side area between West 90th and West 99th streets is known for its stunning architecture, plethora of food options and acclaimed schools.

This section of the UWS is stocked with long-time neighborhood establishments sharing streets with newcomers, tree-lined Brownstone blocks, and schools such as the prestigious Trinity preparatory school at 139 W. 91st St. and the historic Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School at 5 W. 93rd St.

“If you’re the type that likes the pre-war stock of buildings, there’s no better place in the entire city,” said Nick Prigo, chair of the housing committee at Community Board 7 and a local district leader. He and his wife moved from the Upper East Side to West 99th Street five years ago. “It’s both the feeling of living in the middle of New York City and the feel of neighborhood suburbia all in one.”

“Community is why the area is so nice; we can't believe how quickly we found a community here," he added. "I can't walk to the subway without running into my neighbors or people I work with on the community board."

Peter Arndtsen, district manager of the Columbus Amsterdam Business Improvement District, agreed.

"There are communities around institutions, around people that volunteer at a church or synagogue, a block association, the park they go to, the restaurant they go into," he said. "People who own dogs have their own community or who have kids of the same age. There are so many ways for people to connect here."

The area has always been known as a place where families lay down roots and remain for generations, but it also attracts college students from nearby Columbia University or City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College.

Elizabeth Caputo, chair of Community Board 7 said that there is a lot of recent development in the 90th streets in terms of restaurants.

"We've had a lot of new applications for restaurants and potential small businesses and our job is to try to make things grow," she said.

But she noted that the board has no intentions on forgetting about the long-time establishments.

"People like being able to go to a small restaurant on Amsterdam or Columbus that is off the radar, comfortable and family-run," she said. "We are trying to protect small businesses already here, especially around Amsterdam Avenue; we want to make sure they don't go out of business."

Despite the area's growth, community leaders say one drawback is rising housing prices.

"This area used to house musicians and artists for a long time but that's become more difficult has time has gone on just because of rising rents," Arndtsen said. "It's going to be a major change that will affect the diversity and density of those living here, and that is a concern."

Prigo calls affordable housing the single biggest issue in the area.

"The loss of more affordable housing changes the community makeup. And what makes it right now is diversity of all types -- economic, racial, sexual, national. The loss of affordable housing could mean we lose all of that," he said.

Caputo said the board's current challenge is to try to preserve affordable housing, such as the New York City Housing Authority developments on the borders of the nabe. But even with that challenge, the area remains a place to settle down. She believes it will continue to be a great place for families to live.

"The richness of everything makes me stay," Arndtsen said. "I have two daughters and just for them to be able to go to the park, to the museums, the public schools and to volunteer at different places is great. And you don't need a car."

Transportation:

1, 2, 3 Trains to 96th Street station at Broadway

B, C Trains to 96th Street station at Central Park West

M5, M7, M10, M11, M96, M104, M106 buses

Library:

The closest library is situated just outside the northern boundary at the Bloomingdale branch, 150 W. 100th St.

Post office:

USPS, 700 Columbus Ave.

Crime:

The Upper West Side 90s area is covered by the 24th Precinct at 151 W. 100th St. The area was plagued with 1,193 robbery, 1,360 burglary and 1,150 grand larceny auto complaints in 1990. Those crimes decreased significantly by 2013 with 160 robbery, 109 burglary and 42 grand larceny auto crimes reported by the precinct last year. There were nine grand larceny autos reported in the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2 both this year and in 2013.

Celebrities from Upper West Side, 90s

These famous names once called the Park West Village housing complex, which runs from 97th to 100th Street between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue, home:

Ray Charles

Duke Ellington

Elaine Stritch

Tito Puente, composer

Wilt Chamberlin, basketball player

Cicely Tyson, actress

To eat:

Hunan Park, 721 Columbus Ave.

Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines are served up at this spot all for an affordable price. 212-222-6511

Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table, 680 Columbus Ave.

Enjoy American comfort food during brunch, lunch or dinner in a farmhouse setting. 212-280-6500

Malecón Restaurant, 764 Amsterdam Ave.

Dine on authentic Caribbean home-style cuisine including chimichurri, the Dominican-style burger along with rice and beans meals, rotisserie chicken and seafood dishes. 212-864-5648

To party:

Dive Bar, 732 Amsterdam Ave.

Get together with friends at this fun, casual spot that dives into an underwater theme. 212-749-4358

Bar Thalia, 2537 Broadway

This 46-seat bar is more than just that. The space also hosts poetry readings, jazz open mics and comedy nights. 646-597-7340

Asia Kan, 710 Amsterdam Ave.

Indulge in sushi, teriyaki or stir-fried noodles and wash it down with $5 specialty cocktails or $2 hot sake at this cozy bar and lounge. 212-280-8878

To shop:

The Health Nuts, 2611 Broadway

Healthy foods and products are offered galore. 212-678-0054

Chocolate Works, 641 Amsterdam Ave.

Find the perfect customized chocolate creation for a loved one or yourself. They also offer workshops and parties. 212-799-3630

T.J. Maxx, 808 Columbus Ave.

The discount designer store offers brands like Nanette Lepore, Tahari along with housewares, shoes and accessories. 212-222-0543

To do:

Little Shop of Crafts, 711 Amsterdam Ave.

Take painting, pottery or art classes or try your hand at designing mosaics at this little shop. 212-531-2723

Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway

Catch a range of productions at this performing arts center ranging from theater and film to literature and comedy. SymphonySpace.org

Riverside Park, Riverside Drive

Located on the most westerly end of the area, opposite Central Park, Riverside Park runs the entire Upper West Side neighborhood from W. 58th Street to W. 156th Street. An entry point at 99th Street and Riverside Drive allows visitors a scenic view of the Hudson River and a place to sit and picnic or jog in the warm months. NYCgovparks.org

The buzz:

A dangerous intersection in the Upper West Side 90th Streets is causing major concern for area residents. At 96th Street and Broadway, two pedestrians have been killed and another killed at 97th Street and West End Avenue within a nine-day span.

“There are a lot of improvements that need to be made about the traffic at that intersection,” said Elizabeth Caputo, chair of Community Board 7. “Traffic has increased dramatically since the 90s. It’s heavily congested.”

At a meeting held on Thursday, Jan. 30, the Department of Transportation unveiled plans to make the 96th Street intersection safer. The plans include expanding the northbound mall on Broadway so there is more space for pedestrians to stand, creating a crosswalk in the middle of West 96th Street and Broadway for pedestrians to cross to the pedestrian mall and a reduction in pedestrian waiting time at the intersection with a new phase of signaling created by eliminating two left turns.

Real estate:

To rent:

143 W. 95th St. Furnished one bedroom, one bathroom; 575 square feet: $2,950 per month.

310 W. 98th St. Furnished one bedroom, one-bathroom; 550 square feet: $2,850 per month.

To buy:

328 W. 96th St. #A. One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op; 525 square feet: $384,000.

215 W. 90th St. #5A.  Three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo; 1,933 square feet: $2,895,000.

Looking for a home on the Upper West Side?

J&M Realty, JMrealty.org

Halstead Property, Halstead.com

Q&A with Lee Seinfeld: Owner of Dive Bar

Lee Seinfeld has owned Dive Bar at 732 Amsterdam Ave. for 25 years. The bar takes “dive” quite literally, being decked out with an underwater scuba diving theme. Seinfeld says the bar attracts everyone from the local firemen to the occasional celebrity.

What attracted you to the area in the first place?

I was attracted to the neighborhood because of the diversity and because it was reasonable. I chose to open my first bar there because I knew the neighborhood and the people there, so it was easy to transition from bar tender to bar owner.

How would you describe the patrons that frequent your bar?

It’s a real neighborhood bar; there are down to earth people here, whether rich or just working Joe’s. I got regulars from every walk of life and everybody is very respectful.

What’s the best thing about being here?

It’s still a neighborhood -- everyone knows each other by name, everyone is friendly. And the neighbors are concerned about others.

Tags: city living , real estate , news , upper west side , fraser , housing , apartments , living , amny

advertisement | advertise on newsday

advertisement | advertise on newsday