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Upper West Side's 80-89th streets: The NYC fantasy for those who can afford it

Manhattan’s West 80th streets represent the quintessential city residential life: old brownstones and mom-and-pop storefronts, and everything within walking distance of Central Park.

The neighborhood mostly forgoes new luxury developments in favor of savoring its plentiful pre-war stock.

But while residing in this picturesque neighborhood would live up to the New York City fantasy, it comes at a high price.

The median asking price for apartments is $1,362,500 and rentals average $3,400 a month, according to StreetEasy.

"People are attracted simply because there are these very attractive, very historic buildings," the listings site's data scientist Alan Lightfeldt explained.

Ben Moosher, a 21-year-old student and native to the area, said the 80th streets have a different energy than the rest of the Upper West Side.

"It has more personality, I'd say. There's a hustle and bustle here that's unique," he said of the neighborhood. "Also, everything you need [is available]."

The two main avenues, Broadway and Amsterdam, are
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The two main avenues, Broadway and Amsterdam, are lined with a seemingly endless amount of shops, restaurants and bars. And because of its central location in Manhattan, residents don't have to travel far to find anything else they need.

But William Lynch, a 72-year-old retiree who's lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, warned that it isn't an easy place to look for an apartment.

"I love living here," said Lynch, who lives in a rent-stabilized apartment. "It's just harder for people to do that."

The neighborhood simply does not have enough affordable units, he explained.

"People are more concerned with protecting the value of their real estate" than with making the area accessible to limited budgets, he added.

Still, for those who can get in, it's a happy area and neighbors are friendly.

"It's still a very tight-knit community," Moosher said. "I can always strike up a conversation and ask a stranger from the Upper West Side if they're Zabar's or Citarella or Fairway people."

Find it:

This section of the Upper West Side stretches from 80th Street to 89th Street between Central Park to the east and Riverside Park and the Hudson River to the west.

The basics

Trains1 to 79th Street, 86th StreetB, C to
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


1 to 79th Street, 86th Street

B, C to 81st Street, 86th Street


M5, M7, M10, M11, M79, M86, SBS and M104


The West 80s are policed by the 20th Precinct at 120 W. 82nd St. The precinct reported one rape, three robberies and three burglaries so far in 2016 as of Jan. 24, according to its CompStat report.

Celebrities who have lived here:

The West 80th streets are a playground for dozens of celebrities. The Beresford on Central Park West between West 81st and West 82nd streets, for example, has been home to Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe and journalist Gregory Speck (and his famous taxidermy collection), among others.

Movies and TV:

Thanks to its many beautiful buildings and recognizable New York City landmarks, this area is featured in dozens of movies and television shows. Characters on shows such as "Seinfeld" and "30 Rock" have lived here, and films including the '90s rom-com "You've Got Mail" and the serial-killer portrait "American Psycho" were set in the West 80th streets. Upper East Sider Woody Allen also frequently set his movies, including 1979's "Manhattan," here.

2015 market data

Median sales price: $1,153,500 Number of units on
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Median sales price: $1,153,500

Number of units on market: 552

Median rental price: $3,658

Number of rentals on market: 680

(Source: StreetEasy)

To eat

Barney Greengrass541 Amsterdam Ave.Since opening in 1908, this
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Barney Greengrass

541 Amsterdam Ave.

Since opening in 1908, this Jewish deli has acquired dozens of accolades -- including the James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence and the less official title of "Sturgeon King," a nod to its popular lox and bagels.


487 Amsterdam Ave.

A popular Mediterranean restaurant, offering kebab, falafel and a wide range of delicious lamb and chicken dishes.

Good Enough to Eat

520 Columbus Ave.

This comfort food joint has been an Upper West Side brunch staple since it opened in 1981, serving simple American fare in a homey atmosphere.

To party

Jake's Dilemma430 Amsterdam Ave.A well-liked neighborhood sports bar
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Jake's Dilemma

430 Amsterdam Ave.

A well-liked neighborhood sports bar that lures in a younger crowd with cheap drinks and happy hour specials.

Dead Poet

450 Amsterdam Ave.

This rustic spot is far from a dive, with its scholarly atmosphere and wall-to-wall mahogany designs, but still manages to offer up drinks and pub-style food at reasonable prices.

George Keeley

485 Amsterdam Ave.

A simple, no-frills Irish pub, with good food and $6 eight-ounce Guinness drafts.

To shop

Harry's Shoes2299 BroadwayDespite the many large chain competitors
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Harry's Shoes

2299 Broadway

Despite the many large chain competitors within walking distance, Harry's and its sister store, Harry's Shoes for Kids, have managed to remain the go-to spots for deals on shoes in the area.

Westsider Books

2246 Broadway

This tiny independent shop sits just a few blocks south of the massive Barnes & Noble, but has kept its doors open thanks to its large selection of rare books and friendly staff.


2245 Broadway

Another UWS institution, Zabar's is known for its gourmet and specialty groceries, including its bagels and cheeses.

To do

Central ParkA big advantage to living in the
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Central Park

A big advantage to living in the West 80s is the easy access to one of New York's most visited parks. Central Park offers endless activities and attractions, including Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater, situated just below the 85th Street Traverse.

Children's Museum of Manhattan

212 W. 83rd St.

This museum offers educational and interactive exhibits and special events for kids. Admission is free for children under 12 months.

The buzz

Since introducing it last February, Mayor Bill de
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Since introducing it last February, Mayor Bill de Blasio has had some trouble gaining grass-roots support for his affordable housing plan.

To build 200,000 affordable housing units around the city, he is proposing -- among other measures -- changing zoning laws to raise building height caps.

But community leaders in areas like some parts of the Upper West Side oppose the rezoning out of fear of skyscraping new developments invading their townhouse neighborhoods.

They are also concerned over a part of the proposal that would allow developers who are renovating or building new developments to construct other buildings to meet their affordable housing requirements up to half a mile from the original site.

Elizabeth Caputo, chair of the Upper West Side's Community Board 7, said she wants de Blasio's housing plan to be tailored for each neighborhood.

"What [Mayor de Blasio] is doing is kind of taking this one-size-fits-all approach, whereas neighborhood-by-neighborhood is a better way to approach this," she said.

In November, CB7 passed two resolutions asking the mayor to address several concerns, including the possibility that developers construct buildings specifically for affordable housing units rather than incorporate them into market-rate projects.

The mayor's office said community board votes are taken into consideration, and that some recommended amendments "are already being in some cases incorporated," including height limits for residential side streets.

The spokesperson for the mayor's office said the plans for rezoning and affordable housing will continue to change based on feedback from community boards and public hearings until March, when the City Council will vote on the plan.


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