The Upper West Side is a residential area between 59th street and 116th street, (encompassing Morningside Heights) running from Columbus Circle all the way up to Columbia University, between Central Park and the Hudson River. Most residents commute to other areas of the city to work, primarily midtown or downtown Manhattan.
Living in the Upper West Side brings with it a certain level of pomp due to the number of expensive buildings in the area. The most famous, the Dakota, is the oldest apartment building in the area and was where John Lennon was shot and killed. Many famous people still live in the building. Despite the fancy buildings peppered through the area, there are still affordable options for renting and buying along Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues and prices drop when you go above 106th Street.
Many people who live on the Upper West Side come from upper middle class and wealthy families. There are also lots of single twenty and thirty-somethings, most of them employed and with at least college degrees. Mixed in, there is a solidly middle class community, people of all ages, some of whom live in rent stabilized apartments that they have had for many years. There is also a sizable international population living on the Upper West Side and the area is racially diverse. Citizens of this neighborhood are, by and large, very liberal, and some jokingly call this neighborhood “The Peoples’ Republic of the Upper West Side.” The are is generally safe but be aware when walking at night, especially around the housing projects on Amsterdam Avenue.
With Central Park on its’ doorstep, outdoors enthusiasts will never be without a place to exercise, play sports or just chill out with a book under a tree. If gyms are more your thing then there are many to choose from including the most pricey Equinox gym (4 locations from 59th-92nd streets), relatively expensive New York Sports Clubs (6 locations 59th-106th street). There are also cheaper gym options like the Paris Health Club on 97th and West End Avenue and the West Side YMCA on 64th off Central Park West. Look out too for the many Yoga studios that exist on upper floors of buildings on Broadway and Amsterdam.
The Upper West Side is serviced by the 1/2/3 trains that run local and express along Broadway, and the A/B/C/D trains that run express and local along Central Park West. The Upper West Side also has a number of buses that come frequently and often, some with express service. The M5 runs up Riverside Drive. The M104 runs on Broadway. The M7 is the Amsterdam Avenue bus, and the M10 runs along Central Park West.
The area is handy for all of Manhattan and great for eating out, shopping and pretty much anything else you could want is within a reasonable distance. If you can afford it, living in the Upper West Side would make for an interesting time in New York.