For residents, New York is a city of neighborhoods
Popular wisdom has it that New York is a wonderful place to visit but a terrible place to live. For a great many people, however, the opposite is true. Within a few minute's walk, a New Yorker can choose from an incredible variety of shops, markets, movies, and restaurants. Decisions to go to the theater, to the opera or ballet, to a classical concert or recital, can be made on the spur of the moment. Fine museums, first-rate schools, major sporting events, the best jazz, rock, or pop entertainment, can all be had without ever getting into a car.Skip to next paragraph
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The visitor, on the other hand, finds himself in an overwhelming welter of speeding taxis, pushing crowds, and undecipherable subways. It's no surprise that many people leave New York wondering why anyone would ever live there by choice.
What they may not understand is that New York is a city of neighborhoods, areas defined by their ethnic group or economic status, and that most New Yorkers identify first with their neighborhood and second with the city.
These communities are the real New York, ignored by tour buses and far removed from midtown hotels and the seediness of Times Square. Exploring them on foot, one discovers the diversity, the energy and excitement, that explain why, for so many, New York is home. Columbus Avenue and the Upper West Side
A decade ago, Columbus Avenue in the 70s was bordered by run-down apartment buildings and decaying brownstones. Then, as so often happens in New York, someone had the audacity to open a restaurant in one of the worst sections of town. It was a huge success, and now Columbus Avenue between 86th Street and Lincoln Center boasts fashionable clothing stores, art galleries, and innumerable restaurants and gourmet shops.
On weekends, the residents take to the streets, turning the area into an urban parade. A good place to join it is at D. D. L. Food Show on 81st Street. The latest production of movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis, it is an extravaganza of brass, brick, tile, and wood separated into specialty departments.
One of the nicest ways to spend a New York afternoon is to stroll down Columbus Avenue, perhaps visiting the Museum of Natural History at 79th Street, to browse leisurely in the shops, then to dine at the Ginger Man, the Saloon, or O'Neal's Balloon, all in the low 60s, and finally to take in a concert, an opera , or ballet at Lincoln Center. The East Side
The East Side is separated from the Upper West Side by Central Park, and everything that Columbus Avenue is - young, brash, highly visible - the East Side is not. Fifth, Madison, and Park Avenues in the 60s, 70s, and 80s exude tradition, stability, good taste, and, above all, money. In addition to galleries, fine shops, and salons, the East Side contains the city's most elegant town houses, some of which are now private schools or foreign embassies, many still homes of the wealthy.
The most splendid of these mansions was built in 1914 at Fifth Avenue and 70 th Street for the industrialist Henry Clay Frick. In it he hung Rembrandts, Titians, and Turners and now his collection, and his home, are open to the public. Unlike its great neighbor, the Metropolitan, at 82nd Street, the Frick is a museum that can be enjoyed without leaving the visitor exhausted.
Madison Avenue is pure commerce, albeit of a highly refined variety. If you should need something to brighten that dark corner of the living room, Len and Gerry Trent at No. 950 will sell you a Tiffany lamp for $42,000. Perhaps you are in the market for an old master drawing or some French Impressionists. At Knoedler Gallery on 70th Street, there's a good chance that you will find what you want.
From 77th Street south, Madison Avenue is art, antiques, crafts, and the Whitney Museum near 74th, with its fine collection of 20th-century American paintings and sculpture. Toward the 60s the galleries thin out, and expensive boutiques take their place. The Lower East Side