Staring out at the calm water of the East River from Carl Schurz Park from the long stretch of promenade, it’s easy to forget the hustle and bustle of the city just steps away.
For many Upper East Siders who live between 80th and 89th streets, this is the draw of a neighborhood that is equal parts quiet residential homes and busy commercial strips.
The area, framed on one side by the water and on the other by Central Park, is a residential dream with everything from luxury apartment buildings to townhomes to five-story walk ups.
“It’s a beautiful place to live, it’s quiet. It appeals to me more than any other part of New York City,” said Leonardo Playa, who moved to the area about 20 years ago from Italy and lives here with his wife and 8-year-old daughter in a large one-bedroom rental. “It’s convenient for everything. You live in the city, but at nighttime it’s quiet. The downside is you pay a lot for rent.”
While the further east the more affordable housing prices get, according to local experts, those looking to buy property here shouldn’t expect it to come cheap.
And prices toward the river are expected to increase with the expected completion of the Second Avenue subway, the first phase of which is slated to open in December.
For Sharon Rachev, 29, who moved to the East 80s about a year ago, its impending debut makes the eastern half of the neighborhood feel “up and coming.”
“If we decide to sell the house [after the subway opens], it would go up in value,” said Rachev.
The median sales price in the East 80s was $1,100,000 in 2015, compared to $910,000 for all of Manhattan, and up from $893,000 in 2013, according to the listings site StreetEasy.
The median rent in the area was $2,650 last year, compared to $3,125 in the borough as a whole, and up from $2,495 in 2013, StreetEasy found.
But Romina Monsef, a real estate sales broker with Citi Habitats who lives and works on the Upper East Side, said the area offers a diverse enough housing stock to fit most price ranges.
“In terms of housing, there’s a lot of options,” Monsef said. “You have walk up buildings, elevator buildings and luxury buildings. There’s also a lot of townhouses. Anything that you’re looking for, you can find it there at a lot of different price points.”
And those that can afford to live here rarely have to leave the area for entertainment and amenities.
Despite being plagued with subway construction for the last few years, Second Avenue is still going strong with bars and restaurants lining the busy stretch, like well-known bakery Two Little Red Hens, near 86th Street, and cocktail bar The Penrose, at 82nd Street.
Stores become increasingly more high-end toward Madison Avenue, where shoppers can find home decor by Jonathan Adler and luggage at Tumi, both near 83rd Street, or cooking supplies in William Sonoma, at 86th Street.
Art is also in abundance here, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art dominating several blocks along Fifth Avenue, and the Neue Galerie exhibiting its extensive collection of Austrian and German art, including paintings by Gustav Klimt.
Central Park is another big draw. Neighborhood residents have immediate access to running paths and the calm of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
But above all else, residents say the neighborhood’s friendliness is its best quality.
When Elissa Domnitz and her husband were looking to transition from a house on Long Island to apartment-living in Manhattan, they settled on the East 80s six months ago for exactly that reason.
“It just seemed like this would be the most livable place for me,” said Domnitz, 51. “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t meet someone. Everyone talks to everyone.”
The East 80s run from East 80th Street to the south to East 89th Street to the north. The nabe sits between Fifth Avenue, at central Park, and the FDR Drive, at the East River.