The Upper East Side has a reputation of wealth and opulence. Once home to the wealthiest New Yorkers (like the Kennedys, the Roosevelts, and the Rockefellers), the UES is filled with ornate and beautiful buildings. Today, the Upper East Side is still considered one of the more expensive neighborhoods, however, in recent years, it has begun to see younger arrivals (people in their 20s and 30s) who are finding better deals up north, away from the Lower East Side and/or hip Williamsburg.
With the completion of the 2nd Avenue train, the neighborhood is only becoming more accessible to everyone as previously the only train servicing the UEW was the 4,5,6 on Lexington Avenue. Even better, the further east you go, the cheaper the apartments get. All this is only adding on to the interest from renters who no longer have to commute for as long to get to the area.
The Upper East Side contains some smaller neighborhoods such as Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hall. It spans from the bottom of Central Park on 59th Street to 96th Street and is bordered by the east Side of Central Park at 5th Avenue and the East River.
Before Europeans arrived in New York City, the Upper East Side was home to Native Americans with fishing camps along the East River. As Europeans arrived, they mostly settled and lived in lower Manhattan, leaving the Upper East Side as rural farmland for many years. This all began to change as the New York and Harlem Railroad began to develop around the neighborhood's single station at 86th Street.
The Upper East Side experienced rapid development and eventually became the epicenter of German immigration. As a result, much of the countryside was subdivided, and significant numbers of immigrants began pouring into NYC in the second half of the nineteenth century, producing a major population boom beyond the downtown areas.
In 1878, the Third Avenue El was opened followed closely by the Second Avenue El, which linked the Upper and Lower classes of the Upper East Side together. Historically, these two parties had been by Lexington Avenue to the East and the West. After almost a century, in the 1950s, these elevated trains were dismantled, allowing for the construction of high-rise residential complexes along the tenement-lined streets. Unfortunately, as a result, there was only one subway line left in the neighborhood, which negatively impacted both the neighborhood’s transportation methods and popularity. Thankfully, the construction of the new Second Avenue subway in 2017 has since increased interest and housing values in the neighborhood.
The Upper East Side is known for its wealthy residents, its closeness to Central Park, and of course, for Museum Mile. Central Park, at 2.5 miles long in the heart of Manhattan, is both a relief from the asphalt and noise of the city and an outstanding homage to urban landscape design from Frederick Law Olmsted, whom many consider to be the founder of landscape architecture. As a result of its close proximity to the park and large number of residential buildings, the neighborhood’s atmosphere can be described as serene and more relaxed than the rest of the city.
The Upper East Side has slowly evolved from being an area exclusively for old money and upper-crust socialites. In recent years, it has become a popular neighborhood for young professionals and families who aren’t ready to leave Manhattan just yet. The fact that it is located right next to Central Park and Museum Mile, means that families have many child-friendly playgrounds and activities to choose from. It is not uncommon for visitors to run across many strollers, kids and scooters, and families when walking around the neighborhood. The Upper East Side can be considered extremely family friendly.
The neighborhood is a peaceful, green area that is a welcome respite from the bustle of downtown. As you walk around the area, you’ll notice a mixture of buildings such as beautiful, very expensive mansions, brownstones and luxury high-rises. However, at the same time, the neighborhood also offers a host of less expensive high-rises, walk-ups, pre-war doorman buildings closer to the East River. The neighborhood has something to offer for just about everyone.
The Upper East Side has become more accessible in recent years with the addition of the Second Avenue train line. In addition, it’s close proximity to both Upper Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan makes it an easy neighborhood to commute in and out of for work. Here are some popular transportation options in the neighborhood:
The Upper East Side has long been a magnet for both old and new money. A trip through its well-kept streets demonstrates this. Drew Barrymore, Mariah Carey, Kate Spade, Ricky Martin, Bill Murray, Leslie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mia Farrow are all among the celebrities who own houses or previously lived in this affluent area. More infamously, Jeffrey Epstein also had a sprawling mansion at 9 East 71st Street which was most recently purchased in 2021 by former Goldman Sachs’s executive, Michael D Daffey. Thankfully, the funds from the $51 million sale will go towards the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Programme.
The Upper East Side also is home to most of the city’s elite private schools and as such is a hub for well-off families and of course their children. The density of these private schools makes the summer and fall competitive times to move into the neighborhood, as families hearing back from their children’s applications begin moving closer to school.
On the Upper East Side, there are 24 public schools, including pre-kindergarten programs, kindergarten and elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and a few schools that span elementary, middle, and high school grades, according to the NYC Department of Education website. Separately, the New York State Association on Independent Schools listed more than 30 private and religious schools, and that's only those that are members of the volunteer organization.
The following private schools are located on the Upper East Side:
It’s probably impossible to run out of things to do in the Upper East Side. Central Park offers a wide variety of activities for families, singles, and everyone in between. From jogging paths to the Central Park Zoo to the Great Lawn, Central Park is a sanctuary from the noise and heat of the city for all residents of NYC. You can even take a boat ride, carousel ride, or enjoy some scenic bird watching. After you’ve finished taking a stroll through Central Park, check out Museum Mile. Named such for the abundance of New York’s finest museums, Museum Mile runs from 82nd to 110th Streets on 5th Avenue and includes ten museums: The Museum for African Art, El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, National Academy Museum, The Guggenheim, Neue Galerie New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Henry Clay Frick house, though not technically part of the Museum Mile, is on the same avenue on 70th street.
For those who love to shop, Madison Avenue is home to some of the highest fashion stores like Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Tory Burch and Fendi (among many others). Purchase some delicious chocolates at the La Maison du Chocolat. Looking for other entertainment? Enjoy a night of laughs at one of the city’s legendary comedy clubs, Comic Strip Live. You can also walk to Carl Schurz Park to check out fantastic views of the East River, Randall’s Island, and Queens.
The Upper East Side is also known for its many landmarks such as the following:
Many of the neighborhood’s restaurants and bars are located along 3rd to 1st Avenue. The Upper East Side is home to a plethora of great restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines, many of which are run by world-renowned chefs. Check out the following fantastic restaurants for a fantastic experience:
There are several places to go for brunch on weekends, which has become a local tradition. The following are some of the places you can go.
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Upper East Side is located within New York County, New York. This area currently has 1,634,989 residents in 753,385 households. Out of the total population, 40.12% of the residents speak another language at home instead of English. The majority of the inhabitants in this county are currently unmarried and have a median age of 37.
When looking at residents older than 25, around 12.55% have graduated from high school, 31.80% have a bachelor's degree, and 28.64% have obtained their master's degree or above. Employment rate is typically around 62.9% and the median income in this county is $75,513.
At least 76.86% of those living in this county are renting their homes. Most residents will commute to work by public transportation with an average commute time of 31 minutes.
Geographically, New York County, New York is a part of the New York - Newark, NY - NJ - CT Urban Area. This county is currently home to 18,812,161 residents, or 6,707,347 households with a median income of $68,319. the New York - Newark, NY - NJ - CT Urban Area residents have a median age of 38 and 50.07% are currently renting their homes in the area.