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Upper Manhattan is the area situated farthest north on the island of Manhattan while still being considered the within the New York City Borough. The area is largely residential, and even many native New Yorkers treat the area like another borough, on par with Brooklyn or Queens, given its distance from Midtown Manhattan. Uptown areas like the Bronx and Harlem are often grouped together with Upper Manhattan, as they close to one another and are all similarly associated with an ethnic, inner-city culture.
The borders between neighborhoods are fluid in New York City, so keep your eyes and ears open when you’re wandering from neighborhood to neighborhood. Upper Manhattan is said to begin anywhere between 59th and 155th Street.
Once a Dutch village and named for the Dutch city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, Harlem has since the 1920 been a center for African American life and culture since the early 20th century.
The neighborhood has experienced cycles of depression and gentrification, and has been considered to be on the upswing since the mid 1990’s. Popular sites include Marcus Garvey Park on a sunny day and the Apollo Theater, one of the oldest in the US and well-known for making African-American performers famous since it started as a jazz joint in the early 1900’s. Take a walk up 125th Street, the “main street” of Harlem to explore the music venues and restaurants that this dynamic neighborhood has to offer.
The Upper East Side
The Upper East Side is located between 59th and 96th Streets on the east side of Central Park. This neighborhood is, and always has been, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city, and is continuously associated as the home of the most famous family dynasties, including the Rockefellers, Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Dukes. It’s no wonder that this is where Breakfast at Tiffany’s was filmed!
Tourists visit the area largely for a glimpse at the grandness of it all, and also to visit a number of popular museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The Upper West Side
The area of the Upper West side is bounded by 59th and 110th Streets on the west side of Central Park. The neighborhood is affluent, and while the Upper East Side is associated as the home of business and diplomacy, the Upper West Side is said to be home to the cultural and artistic powerhouses of the day John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein, and Lauren Bacall. The neighborhood is therefore home to a number of cultural institutions including Lincoln Center, the American Folk Art Museum, and for families, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
Midtown East and Midtown West
Midtown Manhattan is in the thick of it, and as a tourist, it’s probably where you’ll spend the majority of your time sightseeing. It’s home to sites like Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It’s where the southern half of Central Park lies, where debutantes shop the boutiques of 5th Avenue, and some of the most powerful businesses operate. 6th Avenue is where the country’s most successful televisions stations choose to headquarter all activity, and touring ABC studios and the set of Saturday night live can easily be arranged with a little planning.
Midtown is the heart of New York, and you could easily spend your entire trip wandering its dynamic streets. But don’t forget to get out for a day or two, as there are unexpected and delightful surprises in New York City’s boroughs as well.