Upper West Side vs. Upper East Side

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March 18, 2020
the differences between the east side and west side

What makes these twin neighborhoods so desirable? They share a lot of qualities, but there are also a few important differences. Let’s start comparing.

Sometimes when New Yorkers talk “upstate” what they mean is “anything above 59th St.” This street, which is the bottom edge of Central Park, is usually considered the cutoff between Midtown and the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan.

They’re both known for a slightly-less-hectic existence, and possibly more trees, than neighborhoods further south, but they’re nowhere near “upstate.” 

The Upper West Side (UWS)

Generally, it’s accepted that the Upper West Side runs from Hudson River to Central Park, from 59th St. to 110th St. It’s about 2.5 miles long (great for a weekend walk and people-watching) and about three-quarters of a mile wide (great for discovering new restaurants or beautiful buildings.

Importantly: Central Park, one of the world’s great parks, is never more than a twenty minute walk away. 

apartments on the upper east side manhattan


  • Subway/buses: There’s great access to NYC’s public transportation system. 
    • You’ve got access to lots of Subways including the 8th Ave. (ACE) and 7th Ave. (123) and 6th Ave. lines. (BD). These lines likely will take you where you need to go in New York, and can get you to Midtown Manhattan in minutes.
    • There’s also buses that fill in gaps, and are especially important to get across Central Park to the East Side.
  • Bikes: Many of the UWS’s avenues have bike lanes and lots of its streets are quiet enough to safely cross town.There’s an ongoing push to add more bike lanes (especially to Central Park West). Make sure to be extra careful in traffic! 
  • Driving: There’s the West Side/Henry Hudson Highway for fast access to points north and south, and wide avenues. You’ll want to take note that finding parking can sometimes be a challenge and some streets are restricted to residents only. 

Landmarks & Eateries:

rentals upper east side nyc
  • Famous Restaurants: 
    • Barney Greengrass
    • Gray’s Papaya
    • The Mermaid Inn
    • Dueling Pickles: Jacob’s Pickles & Maison Pickle
    • Zabar’s
what is better upper east side or west side
  • Famous Landmarks: 
    • American Museum of Natural History
    • Lincoln Center/Metropolitan Opera House
    • Boat Basin
    • Beacon Theater

The Upper East Side (UES)

The biggest difference between the Upper East Side and the Upper West SIde is the size: while the UWS extends to 110th St., the UES ends around 96th. St, where East Harlem takes over. That makes it less than two miles long, but it is about a mile wide, which is part of the reason there’s a new subway being built

where to find listings on the upper west side


  • Subway/buses:There’s decent access to the Subway; it’s harder to get around the UES.
    • You’ve got the Lexington Ave. line (456) trains nearby, and the Q train was recently extended to 96th St.
    • 2nd Ave Subway construction: the subway is under construction to add more stops from 125th St. all the way down to the southern tip of Manhattan. Construction will continue for a few years, but when this line is done it will give amazing access to points in south Manhattan.
    • For now there’s a “Select Bus Service” that covers 2nd Ave., and like on the UWS, there are buses that will take you across town. 
  • Bikes: It’s not particularly easy to bike on the UES, but both 1st and 2nd Aves. have bike lanes that extend north and south. There are only a few east/west bike lanes, but likely some of the streets are pretty quiet to bike safely. 
  • Driving: The FDR hugs the East River and there’s also wide Avenues to get from the UES to the tip of Manhattan.

Landmarks & Eateries:

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  • Famous Restaurants:
    • Daniel/Cafe Boulud
    • JG Melon
    • Via Quadronno
    • Sushi Seki
    • Pastrami Queen
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  • Famous Landmarks:
    • Museum Mile
    • Gracie Mansion
    • The Guggenheim
    • The Roosevelt Island Tram

There’s a lot of similarities between the two neighborhoods, but none so clear as the real estate landscape. Where you’ll choose will likely depend on your commute, the amenities you’ve got to be near, and likely how comfortable the apartment is.

Renting above 59th st.

Both these the Upper West and the Upper East sides are very popular, and the rent is still too high, but there’s deals to be found on the Upper West and Upper East Sides, with average rents lower than Manhattan as a whole. These areas also feature many charming and famous pre-war buildings.

Renting on the Upper West Side

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Above is a snapshot of available listings for the Upper West Side on Localize.City right now. There’s no shortage of apartments to rent here! Let’s highlight a few. 

upper west side apartments for rent

This one-bedroom is expensive, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Its location and view of the park is nearly unbeatable. 160 Central Park West is the address for a building called the Essex House. It’s nearly 90 years old and has a doorman, elevator, and fitness center.

$8,500/month is extremely expensive, but if you can afford it, this could be your next home. If you look it up on Localize.City, you might notice that it’s nearby the amazing American Museum of Natural History.

upper east vs. upper west nyc

This apartment might be more in your price range, and it’s got a lot of the charm as Essex House, including a fireplace! (Hard to say if it works, but it’s charming as all get out).

It’s close to the Subway, and the building is 130 years old. Be careful, though. There have been a lot of complaints about this building including elevator outages. As usual, caveat emptor, but Localize.City helps you make sure you have all the truth about your new apartment before you move in. 

Renting on the Upper East Side

should you rent a studio on the upper west side?

Above is a snapshot of apartments available to rent on the Upper East Side. There’s sure to be a great one for you if it’s your dream neighborhood! Let’s check out a couple more closely.

what considers to be the upper east side

This apartment is pretty amazing. It’s a duplex with a spiral staircase. The listing says a one bedroom but the agent made note that this could flex into a two-bedroom. The building is almost 120 years old and this listing is a stone’s throw away from Central Park and one of the world’s best museums — the Met.

where is the upper west side in manhattan

This studio is affordable! Plus it’s near Carl Shurz Park (and Gracie Mansion, where the mayor lives). The exposed brick wall is a nice touch, too. One thing to note is that this unit is not particularly close to the Subway — in the future an apartment like this might be more expensive as the Second Ave. Subway opens nearby. 

Find your next Upper West or Upper East home right now on Localize.City

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