Manhattan/Upper East Side
The Upper East Side of Manhattan is one of the city's wealthiest districts. Spanning the stretch of island between 59th Street to 96th Street east of Central Park, the neighborhoods of Lenox Hill, Yorkville, and Carnegie Hill are full of luxurious townhouses and apartment buildings on some of the most affluent addresses in New York. Madison Avenue holds a multitude of fashionable boutiques and fine restaurants catering to the upscale crowd. Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor; many other historic buildings; superb art museums; and many consulates are part of what makes this neighborhood special.
The primary subway service to the Upper East Side is via the 4 and 5 express lines and 6 local line, which run under Lexington Avenue. All three lines stop at 59th St. and 86th St., with the 6 also stopping at 68th St., 77th St., and 96th St. 5th Avenue is three blocks west of Lexington Avenue. Since this is the only north-south subway line serving the east side, these trains can get very crowded during rush hour.
Serving the very southern end of the district is the F line, which stops at Lexington Avenue and 63rd St., and the N, Q, and R lines, which run along 59th Street and stop at 5th Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Both Lexington Avenue stations have a free transfer to the 4/5/6 lines at the 59th Street station (the F station is an out-of-system transfer, meaning you have to walk 4 blocks south to 59th Street from 63rd Street).
Every avenue from 5th to York except for Park Avenue has at least one bus route, and there are also crosstown buses on 57th St. (M57; also M31, which doubles as the York Av. bus), 66th/68th Sts. (M66), 72nd St. (M72, which uses the 66th St. transverse through Central Park), 79th St. (M79), 86th St. (M86) and 96th St. (M96).
On foot or by bicycle
From the Upper West Side, a walk or bike ride to the Upper East Side through Central Park is very pleasant in good weather.
The stretch of Fifth Avenue alongside Central Park in the Upper East Side is commonly referred to as "Museum Mile", though museums and galleries are also to be found off this particular beaten track. Note that the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the primary museum in this area, is covered under the Central Park page. Additionally, the Museum of the City of New York and the El Museo del Barrio are on Fifth Avenue just to the north in Spanish Harlem.
- Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, 2 E 91st St (at 5th Ave; Subway: trains to 86th St or 96th St), ☎ +1 212 849-8400. Su-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-9PM. A branch of the Smithsonian Institution, the Cooper-Hewitt is devoted to historic and contemporary design, with changing exhibits. $18 adults, $12 seniors, $9 students, free for age 18 and under; discount if tickets purchased online.
- Frick Collection, 1 E 70th St (at 5th Ave), ☎ +1 212 288-0700. Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. The former home of steel baron Henry Clay Frick, this sprawling mansion is filled with Frick's enormous personal art collection, displayed as he left it. It's worth a visit for the house alone, which is explained nicely in the audio tour. The collection is impressive, including works by Whistler, Corot, El Greco, Turner, Renoir, and Rembrandt. $18 adults, $12 seniors, $5 students, children under 10 prohibited. Pay what you wish on Su 11AM-1PM. Reference library open M-F 10AM-5PM, Sat (Sep-May) 9:30AM-1PM.
- Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Ave (at 89th St), ☎ +1 212 423-3500. Su-W,F 10AM-5:45PM, Sa 10AM-7:45PM, closed Th. Probably the most famous of the Guggenheim foundations (others found in Bilbao and Venice), which hold avant-garde modern art by artists such as Kandinsky and Mondrian, the New York branch is housed in a unique and famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building rendered in a rounded, organic form and completed in 1959. Be sure to take the elevator to the top floor, then follow the spiral viewing floors downwards to the street level. $18 adults, $15 seniors/students, free for children under 12. Pay what you wish on Sa 5:45PM-7:45PM.
- The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave (at 92nd St), ☎ +1 212 423-3200. Sa-Tu 11AM-5:45PM, Th 11AM-8PM, F 11AM-4PM, closed W. Containing artifacts spanning 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture, with a collection of 26,000 objects – paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ceremonial objects and broadcast media. The museum also hosts the annual SummerNights concert series and the annual New York Jewish Film Festival. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7.50 students, free for children under 12. Free admission for all on Saturdays.
- National Academy Museum, 1083 5th Ave (Just south of 90th St), ☎ +1 212-369-4880, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wed – Sun, 11AM – 6PM Mon – Tues, Closed. From their website: "The Academy Museum celebrates the visual journey of the arts in America. Marked by discovery, experimentation and innovation, the Museum’s permanent collection—comprised of artist-submitted works—offers profound insights into the story of American art. Through special exhibits, ARTalks and events, the Museum shares the living, growing legacy of the prominent artists and architects in the National Academy." Some of their shows are good, but their ticket prices are rather high, so you might not find this museum a good value. There is also an associated school of art on 5 E. 89 St. $15; Seniors (65+) and students with valid ID: $10; Children under 12 and members and students of the National Academy School: Free.
- Neue Galerie New York (Museum for German and Austrian Art), 1048 5th Ave (at 86th St; Subway: trains to 86th St), ☎ +1 212 628-6200. Th-M 11AM-6PM. $15 adults, $10 students and seniors, free admission on the first Friday of the month from 6PM-8PM. Children under 12 are prohibited and children 12-16 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Temple Emanu-El, 1 E 65th St (At 5th Av), ☎ +1 212-744-1400. Visitors are welcome from 10AM to 4:30PM, Sunday through Thursday — except in the occurrence of a holiday or funeral service (call ahead to make sure the temple is open when you plan on going). You can also visit the temple to pray, such as on the Sabbath, if you so choose. This temple traces its lineage to the founding of the Reform Jewish community in New York in 1845, although this building itself dates from 1929. The building is an important and impressive landmark, and the congregation numbers among its members many of the pillars of the Jewish community in New York, including major philanthropists, businesspeople, and politicians. If you don't arrange to visit the interior, it's worth just walking past the building and looking at the decorations on its exterior. No charge for self-guided or guided visits (for groups of 10 or more) is mentioned on the website.
- Weill Cornell Medical Institute, 1300 York Avenue (At 70th Street), ☎ +1 212-746-5454. The Medical School of Cornell University, one of the Ivy League schools and among the most prestigious universities in the country. Although the main campus of the university is located in Ithaca in upstate New York, the medical school was set up in New York City to allow the students to receive better clinical training.
The Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection are among the many venues in the neighborhood that host concert series.
- 92 St. Y, 1395 Lexington Ave (at 92nd St), ☎ +1 212-415-5500. A full season of concerts, lectures, and other events takes place here. The Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall is one of the premiere concert halls in the city, and its lecture and concert series feature many well-known groups and individuals. Some fans particularly recommend the chamber music concerts featuring members of the New York Philharmonic. The Y also offers classes in various subjects.
- Carl Schurz Park, East End Avenue and 86th St. Home of Gracie Mansion, the Official Residence of the Mayor of New York, Carl Schurz Park also boasts wonderful views of Hell Gate and the East River. Compared to other New York parks, Carl Schurz is extremely quiet, given that the surrounding area is almost exclusively residential.
Madison Avenue is the center of New York's haute couture, full of small shops selling fabulously expensive clothes, accessories, and housewares to people who can afford not to look at the price tag. Even if it's out of your price range, it's worth a visit just to gawk.
- Barney's, 660 Madison Ave (at 60th Street). Anyone who hopes to make it into New York's high society makes regular trips to Barney's, where the clothes and accessories are priced to empty all but the fattest wallets.
- Bloomingdale's, 1000 3rd Ave (between 59th and 60th Sts., between Lexington and 3rd Aves; Subway: to Lexington Av/59th St), ☎ +1 212 705-2000. An enormous department store that is frequented by the glamorous and the masses alike. A must-visit for any serious shopper.
- Dylan's Candy Bar, 1011 Third Ave (at 60th Street). An upscale candy store started by Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan.
The Upper East Side is a very expensive neighborhood — though less so east of Lexington Ave. — and this is reflected in the categorization of a restaurant that serves a $29 goulash (albeit a good one) as "mid-range."
- Papaya King, 179 East 86th St (86th & 3rd Avenue), ☎ +1 212 369-0648. Su-Th 8AM-midnight, F-Sa 8AM-2AM. One of the best hot dog joints in the city, Papaya King was also the originator of the papaya drink/hot dog combination, which has inspired similar chains around Manhattan.
- Szechuan Gourmet, 1395 2nd Ave (Between 72nd and 73 Sts), ☎ +1 212-737-1838. Mon - Thur: 11:30AM - 10PM; Friday: 11:30AM - 11PM; Saturday: 12PM - 11PM; Sunday: 12PM - 10PM. A branch of a small chain of quality Sichuan restaurants whose flagship is on W. 39 St. It is possible but not necessary to spend a lot of money at this restaurant. Most meals will be reasonably priced, especially for the neighborhood. As in all Sichuan restaurants, it is best to stick to Sichuan specialties and avoid the obligatory American Chinese listings that are included for people who want them. Lunch specials (11:30AM - 3:30PM, Mon-Fri): $6.95-9.50; Appetizers: $2.95-6.95; Delicacies (cold dishes): $4.95-15.95 (most are $6.95); Soups: $2.50-10.95 (more expensive soups are for 2 people); Mains: $10.95-34.95 (mostly between $10.95 and $18.95); Rice and noodle dishes: $7.95-18.95; Desserts: $2.95-12.95.
- Two Little Red Hens, 1652 2nd Ave (between 85th and 86th Sts.), ☎ +1 212 452-0476. A great bakery specializing in American pastries and cakes. They make one of the best cheesecakes in New York; but don't pass up their other offerings, such as the various squares (lemon, lime, Linzer, etc.). Not exactly an eat-in cafe, but they have a few small tables, so you can have a snack there.
- Heidelberg Restaurant, 1648 2nd Avenue (between 85th and 86th Sts.), ☎ +1 212 628-2332. German style food and drink at an authentic 1936 beer garden in Yorkville, the historically German neighborhood of Manhattan's Upper East Side.
- Lady M Confections, 41 E. 78th St (at Madison Ave), ☎ +1 212 452-2222. It's a very refined (bordering on pretentious) bakery, but the deserts are unquestionably some of the best you'll find, with some of the best cheesecake in the city.
- Café Sabarsky/Café Fledermaus, in the Neue Galerie, 1048 5th Ave (At 86th St). 9AM-9PM. Café Sabarsky is in a beautiful room with wood furnishings on the ground floor, across from Central Park, and Café Fledermaus has tiled floors and is inspired by the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna but is in the basement and has no view; however, the two cafes have the same lunch/dinner menus. These cafes are not cheap, and part of what you're paying for is the location and the decor/atmosphere, but you also get value, in the form of genuine, solidly good or better Viennese cuisine and pastries. These cafes are a good option if you're visiting the Metropolitan Museum and prefer to eat something nearby that's better than the merely OK food at the Met's Snack Bar. You may have a significant wait for a table at peak hours, but it's worth a try. Breakfast (9-11AM) : $3-20 for single dishes; $25 for a prix fixe menu, $35 with a glass of Sekt; Cold beverages: $4-13; Viennese coffee specialties: $4.50-6; Savory dishes (11AM-closing): $13-30; Sausages: $16 ($5 for a pretzel); Hot beverages: $7-10; Desserts: $8-10; Salads: $13-25; Sandwiches: $15-18.
- Uva Winebar, 1486 2nd Ave (between 77th & 78th Sts), ☎ +1 212 472 4552. An Italian winebar that has excellent Italian food including house made pastas. The special wines are worth a try and the wait for the table.
- Atlantic Grill (Atlantic Grill East Side), 1341 Third Avenue (Third at 77th Street), ☎ +1 212 988 9200. Su 10:30AM-10PM, M Tu 11:30AM-10PM, W Th 11:30AM-10:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM. An Upper East Side seafood brasserie featuring locally caught grilled fish and sushi. Prix-Fixe Lunch $28, Prix-Fixe Dinner $48,.
- Barbaresco, 843 Lexington Ave (between 64th and 65th street), ☎ +1 212 517 2288, e-mail: email@example.com. 12:00-23:00. A stylish Italian restaurant with decors from the eighties.
- Carlyle Restaurant, 35 East 76th St (inside The Carlyle hotel), ☎ +1 212 744-1600. Daily 7AM-11PM. A luxury restaurant located in a classy, boutique hotel. Serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus. $40.
- Maya Restaurant, 1191 1st Ave (between 64th & 65th Streets), ☎ +1 212 585-1818. Fine Mexican, creative, seafood-laden menu.
- Orsay, 1057 Lexington Ave (between 75th & 76th Streets), ☎ +1 212 517-6400. French restaurant.
- Sel & Poivre, 853 Lexington Ave (between 64th and 65th street), ☎ +1 212 517-5780. A French restaurant with Spanish waiters serves international food. The bar has a good choice of wines.
The Upper East Side is primarily a land of sports bars and Irish pubs, though a few exceptions can be found. Generally, 2nd Avenue contains the highest concentrations of bars and restaurants in this part of the city.
As the Upper East Side is the legendary location of the Park Avenue duplexes of the super-rich, the expensive boutiques of Madison Avenue, and the gorgeous doorman buildings of 5th Avenue, you would figure to be hard-pressed to find inexpensive accommodations there, unless you have a friend you can stay with. If you want to try your luck with apartment-rental websites, you are more likely to find relatively cheaper accommodation east of Lexington Avenue than further west. Otherwise, fortunately, the Lexington Avenue subway line is generally quite good, though crowded, and will speed your way uptown if you're staying downtown and coming up for an afternoon trip.
- Hotel Wales, 1295 Madison Ave (between 92nd & 93rd Sts), ☎ +1 212 876-6000, toll-free: +1-866-925-3746. European style boutique hotel.
- The Carlyle, 35 East 76th St (at Madison Avenue), ☎ +1 212 744-1600. A luxury boutique hotel, the Carlyle offers rooms and suites for extended stays, and luxury apartments and rentals.
- Courtyard New York Manhattan/Upper East Side, 410 East 92nd St, ☎ +1 212 410-6777. Free high-speed Internet & large work desk in each room.
- Sherry Netherland, 781 5th Ave (Between 59th and 60th Sts), toll-free: +1-877-743-7710. Full concierge assistance, elevator attendants, beautifully furnished rooms.
The most obvious place to go next is Central Park. The Upper West Side is on the other side of the park, accessible by walking; bike riding; taking a crosstown bus at 96th, 86th, 79th, or 66th St; or using a taxi or private car. Also, Midtown and the bright lights and ritzy department stores of 5th Avenue in the 40s and 50s are just south of the Upper East Side. East (Spanish) Harlem starts just north of 96th St., though the Upper East Side has increasingly been bleeding into the southern reaches of the Barrio. Roosevelt Island and Queens are on the other side of the East River.
|Routes through Upper East Side|
|Bronx ← Harlem and Upper Manhattan ←||N S||→ Midtown → Financial District|
|Downtown Brooklyn ← Midtown ←||S E||→ Long Island City, Queens → Jamaica, Queens|
|Downtown Brooklyn ← Theater District ←||S E||→ Long Island City and Astoria, Queens|