NYC Neighborhoods: The Upper East Side

February 26, 2014

New York, USA Life

After two years living out of the USA, I’m back in the New York City area, a place that embodies the word “home” to me almost as much as the area where I was born and raised. Therefore it’s necessary to reflect back on where it all started – the Upper East Side neighborhood – my 2nd in a series of NYC focused posts.

Park Ave

For those who haven’t read my previous posts,  these articles are especially for two kinds of people:

1. Current residents of New York City, especially those who have lived here for a long time –

When I moved away from New York in 2012 for a new life in London, I couldn’t wait to leave the city. I think that often happens after you live in the same place for a long period of time, when you’re itching for a change of pace and to see something new.

But – living in New York used to feel dreamlike and fantastic. For years after I first moved here in 2004 I felt a recurrent wave of energy and excitement as I walked the city streets and took in my surroundings. Now that I’m back, I’ve regained that sense of excitement and I vow to try harder to appreciate all those little things I relish about this city. I hope my enthusiasm will spread to others who may have lost it…

2. Visitors to New York City

Throughout my travels I’ve enjoyed observing the real locals experience when possible. I encourage visitors to New York City to do the same,  to explore the areas outside of Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and all other such “tourist zones”. I can guarantee you’ll discover a whole new exciting, not-to-miss piece of New York.

So where exactly is the Upper East Side?

The Upper East side extends from 59th street through 96th street , goes as far east as the East River and as far west as 5th Avenue in the Central Park. Map below.

The Upper East Side as I see it – 

A nice neighborhood vibe –

High-rise residential apartment buildings occupy a large portion of the area between York Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Situated in between all of these residence buildings are grocery stores, clothing shops, nail salons, restaurants, bars, delis, pharmacies, etc. – pretty much everything you need at your fingertips.

Going west between Lexington and 5th avenue, the vibe slightly changes. It’s still very residential but you see a lot more uniformed doormen and luxury apartment buildings – the easiest way to sum it up is more obvious wealth!

Upper East side houses

Though I never had a Fifth Avenue address, I was an easy walk away from Fifth Avenue during my residency on the Upper East Side, and it often felt like I was in the scene of a movie when I was walking through the neighborhood (Truthfully, I may have been – as many movies are filmed in and around this neighborhood).

No shortage of bars or Irish pubs –

As you probably already know, I’m a huge fan of beer and love casual bars where you can relax with friends, enjoy a beer, watch some sports on TV, and settle in and the Upper East Side is a good place for a night out, or a pub crawl!

Irish pubs on Upper East Side

Irish pubs pictured above: Finnegan’s Wake, Doc Watson’s, and Banshee Pub

Easy access to Central Park

Oh Central Park…the iconic New York park in the middle of all the Manhattan crowded-ness. There was nothing like spending some time in Central Park to relax and regroup, always a necessary respite for this born and raised small town Pennsylvania girl.

Central Park

Why the Upper East Side is special to me – 

It’s where I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned I truly could survive in the big city –

The town where I grew up was only a three-hour drive from Manhattan, but many of the other residents who lived in my small town have never visited New York City. Why? Because it’s overwhelming, close in distance but far-removed from the way of life many are accustomed to. I experienced plenty of overwhelming moments, but I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I survived those times and made New York City my home.

71st street

The street I lived on for the first three and a half years I was a resident of Manhattan

It’s where I met the man I knew I would spend the rest of my life with – 

Jim and I met through mutual friends at an Upper East Side bar back in 2007, and from that point on we’ve shared many great memories together in this neighborhood.

JG Melon

Site of our first date

Pictured above: JG Melon – a great place for burgers and a beer

It’s where I became a “New Yorker” –

“I know what I’m needing..I don’t want to waste more time…I’m in a New York State of Mind.” Like the lyrics of the Billy Joel song, there’s some kind of energy in this city that so far I haven’t been able to find in other places I’ve lived (not saying it’s not out there, though – there are still so many cities I need to explore!).

When I came back to visit while I was living out of the country, I felt an indescribable joy the moment I stepped foot into Manhattan. Maybe it’s because of all the memories I’ve gained after living here for so many years…

But I think it’s more than that. There is something about New York that gets under your skin, something that makes you excited and happy about the little things in life, and though sometimes you forget you had that feeling, you never lose it.

71 street sign

For more specific information about the Upper East Side, please see the official NYC tourist guide, where they describe some of the must-see museums, shops, nightlife and more around the neighborhood.








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About Tanya

I’m a freelance travel and beer writer and a passionate and energetic 30 something - determined to enjoy life and see as much as possible along the way. Recently I lived abroad in London and traveled to 20+ countries within two years! As of January 2014, I'm back in the USA, and currently living in Charlotte, NC. But before all of that, my roots were set in small town America, where I spent the first 23 years of my life living, going to school, and working in the state of Pennsylvania.

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