With Winter officially begun and the holiday season nearly behind us, we will now have time to enjoy New York’s special winter activities. This seasons Culturally Inclined focuses on the Upper West Side. Once a rich farmland area that the Dutch called the Westside “Bloemendall”, later changed to “Bloomingdale” after the Netherland’s beloved tulip area and is now recognized as Broadway. The mid-1800’s was the arrival of Central Park and The Museum of Natural History.
One of the earliest building booms occurred in the mid to late 1800’s with the advent of IRT-Seventh Avenue subway line. In October 1884, architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh following the trends of the Parisian’s “French Flat” changed the way in which New Yorker’s lived on the wild West Side with his historic Dakota cooperative residential apartment building located on 72nd Street. Previously the middle class and well to do lived in mansions and variations of the townhouse. Similar to today’s discerning condo buyers, the Dakota won over the elite with its’ stately residences and full scale amenities packages including door-to-door services for the horse drawn-carriages. Other super structures to follow: The Ansonia on 73rd Street (1904), the Eldorado on Central Park and 90th (1929), the twin-towered Majestic on CPW and 71st& 72nd (1930-31) and two-towered San Remo on CPW and 73rd & 74th St. (1929-1931).
The 50’s and 60’s began development of the 16.3 acre Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts including Fordham Law School and continues to evolve. As part of the Lincoln Center restoration a modern, shimmering all glass restaurant with green roof costing over $20 million was added to the area: The Lincoln Restorante.
When I first arrived in New York City I lived on the Upper West Side during another period of revitalization captured in an article written by David Blum in New York Magazine entitled “One Block A Tale of Two Cities on West 80’s”. I was an avid runner back then so Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson dotted with sailboats and Central Park were my sanctuary through the four seasons. Long runs and hill work thorough the 6.2 Central Park loop or short runs through the reservoir, horse path, or lower loop by Tavern on the Green would challenge me while taking my breath away of sheer beauty and magic of Frederick Law Olmstead’s creation. The Park offers a place for picnicking with friends while delighting in the free professional Philharmonic and Contemporary Concerts, Shakespeare in the Park or the casual sunbathing, sing-along, roller skating and blading in the Dance Circle and ice skating in Wollman Rink, biking and a sundry of other sports activities.
Columbus Circle is now a vibrant shopping mecca including the below ground Turn-style Market and home to the Time Warner Center, studio headquarters of CNN, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Mandarin Hotel prior to was the home to the Robert Moses’ New York Coliseum a nondescript concrete box. We are currently experiencing another period of Renaissance in the area with 200 Amsterdam Avenue, the Upper West Side’s soon to be Tallest Building a 669 foot tall structure, the restoration of the landmarked beau-arts building the Chatsworth on 72nd Street and the Astor on 75th Street, the iconic 360 Central Park West, One West End a 42 story building between 59th and 60th developed by the renowned Larry Silverstein and designed with iconic architecture by Pelli Clarke Pelli and interiors by hospitality visionary Jeffrey Beers, 400 West 61st Street, Building 1 of Riverside Center, 285 West 110th Street, 38 residences designed by FXFowle with panorama of Central Park views, a 13 story 207 West 79th Street is under construction a 19-unit condominium project by designed by architect Morris Adjmi, and 221 West 77th Street a contemporary boutique designed building by Thomas Juul-Hansen is to name a few of the exciting projects in the area.
I would be remiss if I did not remind you to visit some special restaurants in the area: The Leopard at Des Artiste previously Café Des Artiste, Storico in the New-York Historical Society, Tavern on the Green, Shun Lee West, the Gingerman is one of the oldest restaurants in the area, Café Luxembourg, The Loeb Boat House, The Boat Basin Café at 79th Street, Boulud Sud, Jean George, Dovetail, La Boit en Bois, Manhattan Cricket Club, Celeste, Marea the Milling Room and go-to Isabellas when exploring the Planetarium or Museum of Natural History to name a few.
As a final farewell to 2016, thank you for your support, and I welcome your new ideas and questions to stretch me further in aims of improving the lives of fellow New Yorkers.