NFT New York Upper East Side (Lower)

Upper East Side (Lower)

You know the reputation of the Upper East Side: Snooty, fancy and rich. But while this historical neighborhood is home to some of the oldest wealth in New York, it's home to a lot more than you see on the CW: On the weekends, especially in the warm days, check out everyone in their flip flops and sunglasses (designer, please) heading to the most green space in Manhattan, Central Park. If you're not sunbathing or throwing a Frisbee, check out some of the most famous museums in the world, lively restaurants, shopping and brunch--oh you must be a lady/gentleman who brunches if you wander up here. Old or young, this neighborhood is changing--and especially in the summer, sans a trip to the Hamptons, there is no better place to be.

Long before Bernie Madoff made this neighborhood infamous, the fabulously wealthy started settling into the Upper East Side over a century ago. As a result, there are beautiful high rises up and down Park Avenue. Fifth Avenue is the home of what was dubbed "Millionaires Row" at the turn of the 19th century--the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, the Astors, and their friends all walked the streets lined with glorious mansions, now known as Museum Mile. For a different sort of landmark head up to 85th for See more.

>The Jeffersons High know, that dee-luxe apartment in the sky from the classic TV show. Or walk by where Holly Golightly frolicked at the Breakfast at Tiffany's Apartment.

There are many historical sites to check out in one of the most historic districts in New York. Check out the New York Society Library, which moved to its current location on 79th Street from University Place in 1937. Temple Emanu-El on 65th Street is one of the oldest temples in New York City--it was founded as a result of the second wave of immigration of Jews to America. Established in 1845, the reform congregation moved to its current location in 1927, where it welcomes Jews whose families have been going for generations and those who just moved to the city.

Want to stop and see a couple of exhibits? How about some of the most famous museums in the world? The Frick Collection, housed in the 1914 mansion of industrialist Henry Clark Frick, includes works by Rembrandt, Degas, Goya, and many more of the art world's best-known names. (Visitor's tip: "Pay what you wish" admission every Sunday between 11 am and 1 pm.) For a look into the art of worlds past, head over to The Met which houses, oh, over two million pieces and can take days to see it all. One last stop? The Asia Society and Museum, which houses an impressive art collection and performing arts program.

If you love classic New York entertainment (and have a giant wad of cash), this your neighborhood. Step inside the Carlye Hotel to find Bemelmans Bar, named for the Austrian-born artist who created Madeline children's books. It's a lovely place to stop for a drink and hear some piano during happy hour. Right next door is Café Carlye which attracts stars like Judy Collins, Elaine Strich, and even Woody Allen on his clarinet.

For a down and out dive (translation: our kind of bar) ride the Subway Inn or go old country Irish whiskey tasting at Donohues. For a little more class grab the perfect glass of wine at Uva. For even more class, no old money Upper East Side evening is complete without a visit to Bemelmans Bar.

JG Melon's burger is one of the best reasons to go above 14th Street. Cascabel's counter features wallet-friendly Mexican, and for an old-time favorite, try Cilantro. Get your seafood any way you like it at Atlantic Grill or grab a lobster roll from Luke's Lobster. If after all that you need a giant sundae and a candy fix, try Dylan's Candy Bar, a magical wonderland created by Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan.

Can't afford $600 socks on Madison Avenue? Check out Housing Works Thrift Shop or BIS Designer Resale for clothes handed down from Park Avenue. Although pricey, Eli's is one of the best places to buy food in the city, and Fairway is another great option for UES victuals. For unique wine breads try Orwasher's and for all your fastening needs, hit up Tender Buttons.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
An Englishwoman in New York

By Georgia Lawson
Having four weeks to explore New York, Londoner Georgia Lawson dives in head first on a mission to live like a local. Can this Englishwoman master the city in such a short time? Read on to find out.

It’s a Dog’s City

By Michele Langer
Dogs: They're more than lovable, overeager bundles of fur. Dogs can be social ice breakers and show-off accessories. Or can they? A dog is many things to many people, some of whom care for their pets with the love of a brother or mother. Dog runs, dog-friendly restaurants and hotels all aim to serve, comfort and further domesticate this sociable animal. It's enough to make them forget they were ever wolves.

5 Ways to Taste the Silk Road

By Layne Mosler
Though New York cabbies hail from all over the world, many of them were born along what was once the Silk Road. Guided by taxi drivers from Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, Layne Mosler explores five restaurants where chefs still cook under the influence of spice swaps on the ancient trade route.
The View from Roosevelt Island

By Emily Pecora
It's not just a pig farm-turned-prison-turned-insane asylum-turned-real estate. This odd little island has been muckraked by Nellie Bly and unhappily visited by a captive Boss Tweed. It's technically part of Manhattan, but a weird little world of its own. With one main street and the absence of addresses, it has been compared to a crappy college campus and Soviet town. Emily Pecora lovingly reports.

Breaking into Non-Profit Arts

By Liz Pink
Young, talented, poor and striving. Artists are a mysterious lot. Will they make it, or will we wipe our hands of them, devilishly and unforgivingly. J/K. Liz Pink offers truckloads of making-it-in-the-big-city advice that only a very rich or successful artist could pass up. Join her.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson


"Want to hang out in the Upper East Side?" That's a question you don't hear too often, but almost all New Yorkers still find themselves there at some point. Even if they live in hipster Brooklyn. I guess we can thank The Met and Guggenheim. If you do find yourself in the 'hood at lunch time on a weekday, you might want to check out Wajima. Like a lot of NFT's favorite places, it doesn't look like much. But that's ok, because it's all about the food. Get ready for traditional cuisine where for $12.50 you get a little cup of homemade tofu dotted with seafood, a nice portion of salmon sashimi over an addictive vinegar rice, a bowl of rich Miso soup and even a few pieces of perfectly fried shrimp and veggie tempura. It's not the cheapest deal in town, but for East 61st Street, this is a steal.

Posted By:  Kara Deniz
Photo:  Kara Deniz

V-Note is an organic wine bar and restaurant on the Upper East side that offers fresh and flavorful ingredients in a bright and welcoming space. The mushroom scallops and potato crisps, made with trumpet mushrooms, taste precisely like actual fresh-from-the-ocean scallops, perfect for a non-vegan shellfish allergy sufferer. Also delicious is the mushroom lentil ravioli entree, filled with chickpeas, smoked egglant and lentils in a shiitake-tahini cream sauce, topped with herbed greens. Ingredients like seitan, pine nuts, lobster mushrooms, pumpkin and sage mean V-Note is eclectic, never boring, hitting just the right note every time.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

French Institute Alliance Francaise
Just in case you forgot, there's a lot more than language classes over at the Alliance Francaise. In fact you can go there just for the sake of art, without any guilt whatsoever about the state of your French vocabulary. Just recently there was a packed house for the premiere of an experimental documentary called Meringue Diplomacy by American video artist Terri Hanlon. Her new work examines the life of French chef Antonin Careme, whose elaborate meals and pastries actually helped to shape the politics of post-Napoleonic France. This film is more inventive than anything you'll find over at the Angelika, so watch out for other unique gems. Perhaps it's been a while since France was leading the world politically, but when it comes to the arts, the French still seem to know what they're doing.

Posted By:  Layne Mosler
Photo:  Layne Mosler

Agata & Valentina
Eataly has landed in the Flatiron District with huge fanfare, but the good Italians at Agata & Valentina have been showing off the best of the mother country for over 18 years. House-made pastas and soups, top-quality meat and seafood, olive oils from all over Italy and aged balsamic vinegars are just a few of the treasures you'll find here. Shop to cook or bring home a pre-made feast, you can't go wrong at this gourmet temple. Prepare to rub elbows with homesick Italians and Upper East Siders who know where to find the good stuff in their neighborhood.

Posted By:  Georgia Lawson
Photo:  Georgia Lawson

While in New York, I had to try the shopping institutions of Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Macy's was an utter chaotic mess, people pushing you about, a Starbucks lowering the fancy factor, and to top it off, the staff were very unhelpful. When asking for simple direction to the Mac stand, the Macy's employee looked at me like I was the devil. Needless to say I left empty handed. So I decided to try again, and Bloomingdale's was my next stop. The moment you walk in to the newly renovated store, you feel classy and special. Channel, Louis V, and the rest greet you. But we headed straight for the cosmetics. The man at the Laura Mercier counter made our faces dazzle, so we proceeded to stock up on every product he used which resulted in a free gift bag with little samples of makeup. They even humored us when we requested a few extra of the signature little brown bags. This wasn't even the highlight. At Jo Malone we were talked through solutions to making the scents say on your skin and given the 411 on what was good to do in New York--from Governors Island off the south of Manhattan to The Palisades in the north. Bloomingdale's, victory is yours!

Posted By:  Layne Mosler
Photo:  Layne Mosler

Tony Dragonas Cart
At lunchtime, the line at this Upper East Side food cart is 30-40 people deep. Despite winning a Vendy Award in 2005, cook/owner Tony Dragonas has repeatedly faced threats of shutdown from the city. In 2008, The Street Vendor Project got Tony's fans to sign a petition to keep him grilling. After tasting his grilled chicken ($6.50 with rice and salad) it's easy to understand why people fought for his cause--and why cabbies are crazy about his cart. No matter how long the queue, Tony makes sure taxi drivers get their food quickly. Tony's only flaw? His flat-tasting rice. Skip it and order your chicken and tzatziki on flatbread instead.

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Molly Riordan

American Irish Historical Society
In New York, everyone's an immigrant. Whether born in New York or off the boat yesterday, nativist claims are relative at best. At least this is what I tried to remind myself when that old outsider feeling took hold amongst the chandeliers and tapestries of the American Irish Historical Society. I'm Irish-American, they're Irish-American! So what if they have lots of sparkly tchochkies and the best view in the city of the Met and the tourist-pleebs milling about on its front steps? Sipping free wine at an event, putting on my best "travel-writer" face, I felt my NYC-cred seriously challenged in the same room with wealthy New Yorkers established enough to afford the AIHS membership fee. The building itself, bedecked in the riches earned by Emerald-Isle-expats past, is a testament to the fruition of the American dream. Or at least it could be. In true Irish form, I continued to drink wine and forgot to ask about the cherubic mantel clock pictured here. So all told, a visit to the American Irish Historical Society could be a great way to connect to historical Irish-Americans, or at least booze with current ones.

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Lenox Hill Hospital
If you find yourself on the street one night, holding one of your internal organs and frantically trying to put the blood back into your bloodstream, by all means, proceed to the nearest hospital. But if you have any leeway at all, and you are not a billionaire tycoon (I know you're not, because you're reading NFT), avoid Lenox Hill Hospital. Though this institution supposedly has a crackerjack set of physicians, it's the Ritz-Carlton of hospitals and they will gouge you for every drop of morphine and every scratch on the MRI machine, whether you have insurance or not. And there's an equal likelihood that you'll spend four hours in the waiting room (even if you report an agonizing 10 on the "pain scale") and leave without a diagnosis. Always go to the nearest facility in a true emergency, but for those less-urgent, non-lethal problems, find the nearest hospital that doesn't have diamond-studded pillow cases and keep the address on-hand. Not that I speak from experience.

Posted By:  Ilona Virostek
Photo:  Courtesy of Solange Azagury-Partridge

Solange Azagury-Partridge
Once, a while back, I got the idea to use Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" artwork as the central image for my personal style. Sadly, it never went beyond making necklaces out of chandelier crystals to wear over black tunics and colored tights. But self-trained English jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge has taken similar inspirations much farther, to the very height of fashion. Her one-week-old Madison Avenue boutique is a true shopping dream: a high-luxury-velvet-rainbow-glam-rock-interstellar-sitting-room reminiscent of far-out 1970s album covers. SAP makes fine jewelry that’s as fun and daring as costume jewelry, for those who have the money to spend thousands and no desire to wear grandmother's heirlooms. With collections titled "Black Rainbows," 'Cosmic," "Zodiac," and "Poison," from a designer nicknamed "Witchy," you get the idea: you're not in Tiffany's anymore, Dorothy,and why would you ever want to go back? Service is charmingly British and reserved, and browsing is welcomed amidst the plush, shadowy, glittering interior. The jewels, impeccably stationed in shadowboxes and velveteen displays, are not priced… all the better to sustain the dream until the end of Side 2. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Posted By:  Sarah Moroz
Photo:  Sarah Moroz

French Institute Alliance Francaise
In France, the suburbs are not the house-with-picket-fence idylls that they are in North America. Instead, they are locales of social marginalization. While many want to ignore these troubled areas, French photographer Denis Darzacq did just the opposite--he went and confronted the kids who lived there directly, getting to know them personally and documenting them honestly. In the photo series The Fall, on view at the gallery of the Alliance Francaise, Darzacq gives these teens from the outskirts of Paris a chance to be represented, and said representation is visually striking. Caught in midair, these figures of break-dance culture are seen in incredibly acrobatic positions of suspension just above the asphalt. Darzacq used real dancers from the streets--and to match the realism of his subjects, he went old school in technique too. Though it tends to elicit disbelief, there is no digital enhancement or manipulation of the images. Yup, these shots are taken with a manual camera (remember that old-timey objet?) and are completely undoctored. Vive le realisme (and incredibly high shutter speed). Only on display till November 20th!

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

New York Doll Hospital, Inc
Fashionable superficiality juxtaposed with plain know-how. That’s a dichotomy of the Upper East Side, depending on your point of view. The New York Doll Hospital fits into the latter category. Located between 61st and 62nd amidst luxury shops, the hospital is exactly what it sounds like. Over the last 107 years, people have come from all over the world to fix or appraise any type of contemporary or antique doll. One patient predated Tutankhamen, and many of the spare parts look 19th century. But despite what must be numerous wealthy clientele, the New York Doll Hospital is, well, dilapidated and ugly. With doll parts lying all around and the peeling paint on the tin ceiling, the space looks like the Mongols just ransacked, sans disembowelment, and left five alive to warn the next town over. The proprietor isn’t quite a Mongol, but he is from the generation of New Yorkers that manages to apply a morose tone to every sentence uttered. Get him talking, and he’ll grunt, tell you that he does what he does, and get annoyed when you misunderstand where the business cards are located. It’s worth a look for the entertainment value, even without a mini-patient.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Auctions at Sotheby’s can be a free activity. There are no admissions fees. You just show up. If you have specific interests, go to the website for the schedule. There you can browse online auction catalogs for free or, if you’re feeling flush, you can purchase one for around $60. But there’s no need to be so organized. Items to be auctioned are on display. A stroll through the galleries is an excellent opportunity to see great art that is rarely outside of private homes, such as Picassos that you’ve never seen before and will likely never see again. Yet in spite of the money that flows through the house, there is some surprising modesty. Bidders aren’t perfectly dressed and coiffed as one would expect. And one telephone bidder asked gingerly if Sotheby’s would accept an increase in bid from $55,000 to $58,000. (I wonder where the extra $2,000 will go.) Also worth a look is the diamond collection. Sotheby’s jewelry isn’t auctioned off, but ladies, if you’ve lost interest in your boyfriend, demand a very large rock. That’ll scare him off.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

JG Melon
It seems like a new burger joint opens in Manhattan every other week accompanied by inevitable, overblown hype. Then, you never hear anything about the place again. It either ends up dying and going to burger heaven (pun intended) or coasting on its dependable mediocrity, relying on the numbed palettes of drunken club kids. J.G. Melon is not that kind of place. Its grill, constantly sizzling, has had years of seasoning and its patrons don’t mind jumbling up around the bar—three and four deep—waiting for that same guy to yell their last name (the one they put on the waiting list 45 minutes ago). Yep. Their burgers are that good.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

Candle Café
We all live together in relative harmony on this tiny, overcrowded island—graffiti artists, computer dorks, neurotics, exhibitionists, alcoholics, evangelists, saints, sinners, yogis, potheads, cops, nuns, dominitrixes, and occasionally…even vegetarians and carnivores can co-exist peacefully. The most obvious (and ironic) example of this is on the Upper East Side, where a very popular and delicious vegetarian restaurant sits right next to a French bistro called Le Steak. I like the way the Candle Café’s flag kind of rests up against the awning of Le Steak, as if to say—“Can’t we just all get along?”

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

I am a two-timer. I love New York—but I’m also in love with Paris. New York’s skyscrapers (and those amazing views from within them) can’t be beat. But everything in Paris somehow looks beautiful—people that don’t comb their hair, rumpled suits, bathroom tile, dreary cloudy days…even the trash! And I am absolutely enamored of Paris chimneys—those rusty, antennae-like appendages that point skyward from romantic, cast iron-clad buildings. The first things I look for when I’m in Paris are those chimneys. It’s how I know I’m there. And I always miss them when I leave. That’s why I was so excited to find a building here in Manhattan that happens to have Parisian-style chimneys jutting out from its roof. Combined with the block’s antique architecture, ivy climbing up the facade, and the tree limbs that frame the view, these Parisian-style chimneys in New York have become one of my very favorite city oddities.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

Two Little Red Hens
Several years ago when the venerable Yorkville bakery, Big Apple Strudel, went out of business, neighbors wondered if what came next could possibly fill the void. Not only has Two Little Red Hens bakery answered the call for the coffee thirsty and scone hungry crowds, but it has added even more character to the neighborhood. The small, cozy space, with exposed brick walls and lots of kitschy hen and rooster memorabilia, is like a home away from home. Sit among cases filled with decadent cakes, themed cupcakes, fruit-filled pies, spicy gingerbread slices, giant scones, hearty muffins, and frosted cookies— and see neighbors chatting with each other, smiling faces, and staff members that know all the cookie-eating kids by name. Being here makes all that’s wrong with the world seem far far away (if only for as long as you’re chomping on that cupcake). Be sure to check out the ever-changing window displays—they rotate with the seasons and holidays and have a comforting small-town America feel. We might not want to live in the 1950’s…but it sure is a nice place to visit…and Two Little Red Hens is like a bakery version of yesteryear’s soda fountain.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

Artistic Shoe Repair
Not many shoemakers are skilled enough to look at your foot where a shoe has caused a blister and fix it so that it never happens again. With the change of season and a change of shoes, we’re in for a sore reminder that our feet aren’t used to the oxfords, booties, and closed-toe platforms that sat in our closets all summer. Shoemaker John Scarseth of Artistic Shoe Repair on the Upper East Side understands this better than practically anyone. He’s been repairing shoes in the neighborhood for over 25 years and has earned a sizeable following. I’ve been bringing my shoes to him for over eight years, and I’ve been repeatedly amazed with the results. He’s done complicated repairs on my beloved vintage ‘60s go-go boots, softened the knife-like edges on my bright orange platform sandals, stretched the killer boots I bought in Paris that were causing my little toes to bleed, and inserted heel pads in my ballet flats, eliminating excruciating heel friction and blisters. Repairs are done quickly. If you bring a pair of shoes in the morning, it will often be ready by the evening—or the next day at the very latest.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

Lascoff Pharmacy
In the corporate, fluorescent-lit world that is the modern day pharmacy, it’s hard to believe that there was life before unruly queues, scowling cashiers, and brutal barks of “Next!” to summon waiting customers. Charming. Saunter into the airy, vaulted, cathedral-like space of J. Leon Lascoff & Sons Apothecaries (in business since 1899) and step back in time to an era when pharmaceuticals meant personalized service, intricately designed apothecary jars on antique wooden cabinets, and a holy fragrance of medicinal magic perfuming the air. This is where Salvador Dali once purchased several pharmaceutical leeches to use as models for a painting he was working on. It is also home to a huge glass jar of dead insects, once used for prescriptions of “Spanish fly” (an old-fashioned Viagra of sorts). The balcony-railed 2nd floor and the street-level display window along East 82nd Street are full of old newspaper and magazine articles, mortar and pestle sets, and photos of the staff over the years—memorabilia that offers a wonderful glimpse into the history of the pharmacy as well as the neighborhood. What a jewel.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

Uptown-averse naysayers love to repeatedly hammer in the myth that the Upper East Side has no cool, laid-back restaurants. They paint a picture of the mulah-monikered “Silk Stocking District” as a place reserved solely for long, blonde flat-ironed hair, twin set-clad ta-ta’s, and collagen-enhanced kissers that only ingest miniscule portions of fat-free foie gras, diet sashimi slivers, and martinis shaken with ice made from Evian water. Not so. Antonucci is one of a handful of cool, new restaurants to open on the UES over the last several months (including Café D’Alsace and Sfoglia). This definitely isn’t another generic, UES Italian restaurant doling out mediocre family-style portions for drunken New Jersey yuppies. The menu is sophisticated and modern—for example, there are only 2 pastas offered. Other choices include beef short ribs, salt-baked Branzino, and braised lamb shank. Appetizers are refreshingly inventive like the deliciously unique sautéed (not fried!) calamari with peppers, arugula, and pistachio sauce. At lunch, the place is wonderfully empty. But by dinner, the secret is out. Come savor a delicious meal in a sophisticated, but low-key atmosphere free of the too hip, holier-than-thou attitude that often mars the mellowness in some of the downtown joints of the same caliber.

Posted By:  Sarah Liston
Photo:  Sarah Liston

St Mary's Residence
You haven’t lived until you’ve shared your refrigerator with 16 other people. Until you’ve put your brand new carton of unopened orange juice in the fridge, only to find it empty and written on with smeared red lipstick the next morning. Until you’ve watched the self-proclaimed “psychology professor,” perpetually clad in scrubs, drinking wine in a plastic cup while talking to a cardboard box containing her friend’s ashes. Until the new “girl” with the big Adam’s apple, unusually deep voice, and thick layers of make-up leaves a bottle of perfume outside your door for no reason. Sound a little like Bellevue? Well, despite the similarities, it isn’t! It all happened at St. Mary’s Residence, a female-only residence run by nuns where I lived from July 1998 to August 1999. So next time you’re on East 72nd Street (b/w 2nd and 3rd Aves) and you see that seemingly quiet building decorated with a stone Virgin Mary and topped with a large cross—you’ll know that it’s home for, by far, some of the most eccentric women in the city. Too bad they don’t give tours.

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