The Upper West Side, one of the greatest neighborhoods in all of New York City, was founded in 1609 by Henry Hudson on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. In 1613, Dutch immigrants decided to settle north of the city then known as Bloemendal – variety of flowers. The stretch of land is known today as Broadway.
The initial settlers were Munsees, a northern offshoot of the Lenni Lenape tribe. By the 1700’s the Munsee tribe was forced out of New York by Dutch Colonists. The Munsees fled to Canada, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and most settled in Oklahoma where their descendants live today.
The Upper West Side is situated between 59th Street on the south, 125th Street on the north, Central Park to the East, and the Hudson River to the west.
There are towns within the Upper West Side such as Morningside Heights(its’ boundaries are West 110th street on the south, riverside drive on the west, West 125th street on the north, and Morningside drive on the east), Manhattan Valley (its’ boundaries are West 110th Street to the north, Central Park West to the east, West 96th Street to the south, and Broadway to the west), and Lincoln Square (centered around the intersection of Broadway and Columbus Avenue, between West 65th and West 66th streets) to name a few.
Since the beginning, the Upper West Side was a place of commerce where small mom and pop shops of everything from apples and produce to baked goods to tobacco and wine were sold. This dynamic helped the Upper West Side become assimilated into New York City as a whole which attracted affluent business owners to live and work in the area.
The proliferation of buildings began in the 1880’s when developers decided it was time to cash in on land they held for so long. Around this time, Columbia University (originally known as Kings College which was founded in 1754) relocated from the East Side to the Upper West Side. In the early 1900’s, the subway allowed for easy access and for a more diverse neighborhood. The subway allowed for developers to build bigger apartment buildings than first sought out.
Despite recent economic hardships throughout the United States, for the Upper West Side, the trend has not changed. The Upper West Side continues to attract all walks of life and grow. New developments continue to rise such as Extells’ Riverside Center, which will consist of five residential buildings with 2500 residential apartments, a 250 room hotel, a movie theater, a massive underground garage for 1500 cars, an auto dealership, 104,000 square feet of office space, a public park and playground of 2.76 acres, and a new Public School (P.S./I.S. 342) that will educate students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. The new public school will be housed on the fourth floor in one of the residential towers and will accommodate about 488 students.
Sam Zells’ recent development site purchase on Amsterdam Avenue between 66th and 67th streets in which Mr. Zell announced that he will build a 230 Unit Residential Complex with 8,500 square feet of retail, and Friedland Properties new development project to be completed two years from now; a 20 Story, 181 Unit Luxury Apartment Complex to be named “Larstrand” with 40,000 square feet of retail on Broadway and 77th street in which CVS will anchor the retail space.
Demand to live and work in the area continues to increase.
Another reason for the growth of the Upper West Side is due to some the great schools in the area which rank among the highest and best in the city. This dynamic attracts families to the area.
For these reasons and many others, the Upper West Side will continue to prosper.