NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

UPPER EAST SIDE

Famous for its museums and century-old brownstones, the Upper East Side is one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. The lavish Fifth Avenue mansions that this area is known for have breathtaking views of Central Park, and rest on an area known as Museum Mile because of famous institutions like the spectacular Metropolitan Museum and the modern Guggenheim Museum. Madison Avenue abounds with chic boutiques that offer the latest fashions from Paris, London and Milan. Local restaurants offer extravagant treats like the Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity, a $1,000 fusion of the world’s most expensive vanilla ice cream and 23-karat edible gold foil.

Residences on the Upper East Side tend to be among the priciest in the city, with mansions along Fifth Avenue selling for tens of millions. According to Trulia, the average listing price in the neighborhood is $2.6 million. Prices here have hardly declined despite the recession, keeping this area affordable only to the city’s most wealthy residents. This is partly because many diplomats buy homes in the area, which has a number of foreign missions to the U.N.

UPPER WEST SIDE

Tucked between the opulent high-rises of Riverside Drive and the lovely mid-rises of Central Park West, the Upper West Side is known for the beauty of its green spaces. The area’s coffee shops and used book stores buzz with intellectual activity and many residents are students at nearby Columbia University. Despite steep prices, families flock to the area because of the quality of its schools, gourmet supermarkets and cultural attractions. The area is home to the American Museum of Natural history with its spectacular Hayden planetarium, Lincoln Center and the New York Historical Society, and residents live within walking distance of nearby Columbia University Medical School and Hunter College. Students of architecture and worshippers alike stand in awe of the area’s many churches, cathedrals and synagogues. On weekends, residents enjoy concerts at the Beacon Theatre, as well as the area’s many comedy clubs, bars and restaurants.

HARLEM

As the historical site of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem has secured its place in New York history. This neighborhood, broadly defined as the part of Manhattan north of Central Park but south of 155th Street, was once known for musicians such as Louis Armstrong and thinkers like W. E. B. DuBois. While many know of its theaters, jazz music and soul food, the area is home to hidden treasures like Morningside, a neighborhood that offers the best parts of the Upper West Side lifestyle for a fraction of the price.

While much of the Upper West Side is too expensive to be affordable for many, the neighborhood of Morningside, at the southwestern edge of Harlem, is quickly catching up in prestige. No wonder – the area’s supermarkets stock the same gourmet food as do those of its southern neighbor, but charge far less. Being steps from Columbia University, the neighborhood is so popular with students that it can almost be considered an extension of the campus, and this has not gone unnoticed among business owners. The streets are dotted with some of the city’s best coffee shops, bakeries and cafes, where at any time of day or night; one can find a fresh croissant, a well-made espresso and a stranger to discuss the New York Times with.

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS / INWOOD

Consisting mostly of the neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood, Upper Manhattan stretches from 155th street to the northern shore of Manhattan island. It includes Fort Tryon Park, an awe-inspiring 67-acre green space that is home to the Cloisters, an incredible 3,000-piece collection of medieval art that feels like a step into another century. The museum, established in 1938 as a branch of the Museum of Modern Art, undertook the ambitious project of bringing a number of medieval European buildings to America and painstakingly reassembling them brick by brick within its own 4-acre park, which it keeps landscaped in the fashion of a medieval garden.

The area’s culture is deeply entangled in its Latino history, which can be seen in the many Dominican restaurants that line the streets here. Still, change has gradually crept up on the area, with upscale boutiques, luxury developments and trendy bars adding a cosmopolitan feel to this once ethnic community.

MIDTOWN EAST

Wedged between the Fifth Avenue shopping district and the gorgeous eastern waterfront, and located within walking distance of Midtown West, Central Park and Grand Central, Midtown East is one of the city’s most conveniently positioned areas. The area consists of Sutton Place, an affluent neighborhood with gated communities and tony parks, Turtle Bay, the site of the U.N., Tudor City, a breathtaking apartment complex which stretches three blocks, and Murray Hill, where the combination of good schools and inexpensive rents has created a haven for young families. The area also includes Roosevelt Island, an 800-foot wide island in the middle of the East River with incredible views and reasonable rent prices.

Despite its convenience, the neighborhood can be surprisingly affordable. Apartments range from studios with rents comparable to those in Williamsburg to luxurious condominiums with rents ten times as high. With its breathtaking rooftop lounges and convenient access to Midtown West, this neighborhood is quickly becoming popular with professionals who work nearby and families looking for quality schools and reasonable prices.

MIDTOWN WEST

Perched in the center of Manhattan, Midtown West is the city’s largest commercial center and one of its most important cultural destinations. Stretching from the western shore of Manhattan to Fifth Avenue in width and extending north from 34th Street to 59th Street, the area is home to American icons like the Empire State Building, Times Square and Madison Square Garden, as well as the headquarters of some of the country’s largest companies and cultural destinations like Broadway, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Modern Art.

The commercial district runs between 5th and 8th Avenues, and is home to many of the world’s commercial and media giants. Each weekday, its towering skyscrapers draw 700,000 commuters and millions of tourists to the area. On the weekends, both residents and visitors flock to Times Square and the area’s rooftop lounges to enjoy world-class cuisine and unparalleled city views.

The area west of 8th Avenue is known as Clinton. An incredible amount of residential development in this historically working-class community has made it one of Manhattan’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. The energetic mix of luxury condominiums and more affordable developments has made this one of Manhattan’s hotspots for first-time buyers in their twenties and thirties, attracted by the opportunity to buy an apartment here before prices catch up to those of similar units a few blocks to the west.

DOWNTOWN

Stretching from the southern tip of Manhattan to 34th Street, Downtown Manhattan is the epicenter of the city's business and political life. The area is home to Wall Street, and many of its buildings are famous worldwide. Anyone can find something to like in its diverse neighborhoods, which range from the family-friendly streets of Clinton to the socialite-friendly bars and restaurants of the Lower East Side.

The southern tip of Manhattan is home to the Financial District, the stately cobblestone streets of which have been at the heart of the nation’s commerce and history for over 350 years. Here, monuments like Federal Hall, the nation’s first Capitol and the place where George Washington took his oath of office, share space with the headquarters of the city's financial giants, chef-owned restaurants and shopping opportunities that range from thrifty to extravagant. Traditionally the home of executives who work in the area, the Financial District has recently become more affordable to young professionals thanks to new developments and discounted rents.

The Lower East Side is perched above Broad Street on the eastern part of Manhattan. It features many of the city's ethnic neighborhoods with their authentic taste of Jewish, Chinese and Italian culture. Together with Tribeca to the east and Greenwich Village and East Village to the north, The Lower East Side forms an area that is home to the city’s fashion industry and many of its underground musicians, famous artists and historic political movements.

Above 14th Street are Chelsea and Gramercy Park a duo of prestigious, quiet and convenient neighborhoods which are prized by young professionals for their convenience and by families for their safety and for the quality of their schools.