Just as the larger neighborhood known as the Upper East Side has many smaller neighborhoods within it, such as Yorkville, Carnegie Hill, Lenox Hill (yes, lots of hills on the UES!), the Upper West Side – on the opposite side of Central Park – also has subdivisions. Recently I have had two customers interested in looking for homes in the area of the UWS known as Lincoln Square, the southeast corner of the neighborhood – roughly bounded by Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue to the east and west, and 59th to 66th Streets to the south and north. Interestingly enough, the area was characterized in 1940 as the “worst slum in New York City” by the New York Housing Authority, and the urban renewal efforts in the 1950’s and 1960’s led to the development of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This anchored the residential redevelopment of the area into the vibrant neighborhood it is now.
As I have written before, my favorite way to experience a neighborhood is by taking an unplanned walk within the area (a dérive), so on an overcast but not terribly cold February day, I started at Columbus Circle and began my stroll.
At Columbus Circle, you stand at the intersection of the Upper West Side, Central Park, and Midtown West. The shops at Columbus Circle house a Whole Foods as well as specialty stores and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Turning around to look at Central Park for a moment . . .
Just north of the statue of Columbus, a subway hub that can get you quickly to virtually any location in the city.
Walking north a few block on Central Park West, I can’t resist stopping to admire 15 Central Park West, a phenomenally successful building on so many different levels – a classic limestone two-towered building that looks as though it could have always been there, but simultaneously a new development from 2007 with prices per square foot averaging well over $5000 per square foot. I greatly enjoyed reading Michael Gross’s recent book about the development of the site, House of Outrageous Fortune.
Walking west on W. 61st Street, you can see a side entrance to 15 CPW. On the W. 62nd Street side, there is a lovely garden.
This part of the Upper West Side can be a little confusing, in that Broadway is the next Avenue you come to after Central Park West, while for much of the neighborhood the park block is between CPW and Columbus. Broadway, transecting the length of Manhattan on a diagonal, disrupts the orderly grid of most of Manhattan above 14th Street, creating “squares” – really triangles – as it cuts across the orderly boulevards. Union Square, Madison Square Park, Herald Square, and Times Square are all the result of Broadway’s slow progress from west to east as it heads south in Manhattan, and Lincoln Square is yet another. Walking up Broadway to W. 63rd, I headed west again to see Lincoln Square itself, namesake for this neighborhood.
Just south of Lincoln Square is the Empire Hotel, whose sign is a local landmark, and P.J. Clarke’s, a cozy yet upscale place to sit and have a nice meal.
Obviously a strong selling point for the neighborhood is the proximity to Lincoln Center, and the ease of attending performances of opera, music, ballet, theatre, and even the Big Apple Circus in the fall of each year.
The Julliard School, just north of Lincoln Center, also offers high quality student performances.
Looking east while standing in front of Julliard, I noticed the Mormon Visitor Center, best known to me as the place where Hannah and Harper volunteer in Tony Kushner’s epic play, “Angels in America.”
Just north of Julliard is Alice Tully Hall, home to more intimate concerts than those in much larger Avery Fisher Hall (newly renamed David Geffen Hall).
Turning east again on West 66th St., I walked past ABC studios on the way back to Central Park. Just a few blocks north of this intersection is the Loews Lincoln Square Cineplex. I really love this as an option for seeing popular movies, as each individual theatre has the name and style of an old-time movie palace, making the experience there have a little more personality than many multiplexes.
Ending up in Central Park at 66th, yet another advantage to this neighborhood is its proximity to Tavern on the Green, renovated a few years ago but with the twinkling outside fairy lights remaining.
So what does it cost to live in Lincoln Square? As with any neighborhood, it varies greatly depending on the building, but average prices are just under $3000/square foot, compared to just over $2000/square foot for all of the Upper West Side (averaging prices of the far northern sections of the UWS with those to the south, of course). Central Park South, just to the south and east of Lincoln Square averages $5000/square foot, in part because of the premium associated with apartments with views of the park. Lincoln Square tends to be newer buildings, mostly condos, compared to the largely prewar coop inventory of most of the UWS.
In my opinion, the location of Lincoln Square is unparalleled – at the intersection of the Upper West Side, Midtown West, and with Central Park as a virtual front yard.