From the edge of Central Park at 59th Street to the top of Museum Mile at El Museo del Barrio at 105th Street, this is the city’s Gold Coast. The neighborhood air is perfumed with the scent of old money, conservative values, and glamorous sophistication, with Champagne corks popping and high society puttin’ on the Ritz.
On the corner of Lexington and 59th Street is Bloomingdale’s – one of the NYC shopping icons, a beloved sanctuary for stylish consumers. On Madison Avenue, window shopping can be intoxicating: so many tempting boutiques, so many famous names to flaunt on everything from socks to shoes to satin sheets to chocolates.
Between Lexington and Madison Avenues, Park Avenue is an oasis of calm with wide streets meant for strolling, lovely architecture, and a median strip that sprouts tulips in season and sculptures at other times of the year. Railroad tracks ran in this median before World War I. This grand street stretching down to midtown is one of our city’s most coveted residential addresses.
Once Manhattan’s Millionaire’s Row, the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 72nd and 104th Streets has been renamed Museum Mile because of its astonishing number of world-class cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. This stretch is lined with the former mansions of the Upper East Side’s more illustrious industrialists and philanthropists.
The neighborhood is a cornucopia of treasures, including the intimate Frick Collection, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Academy of Design’s 19th 20th-century collections of American Art, the Jewish Museum’s Gothic-style mansion bursting with artwork and ceremonial objects tracing over 4,000 years of history, and the graceful Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution (pictured at left). An added attraction to strolling along Fifth and Park Avenues are the many fascinating non-museum displays on view to the careful observer, especially in the evenings, many apartments keep their window treatments open, so it’s possible to get a discreet peek inside the posh residences and maybe pick up a decorating idea or two.
And speaking of neighbors, the mayor lives up here too, but not in Gracie Mansion. Gracie Mansion, the usual mayoral abode, is a historic house on 88th Street and East End Avenue overlooking the East River and surrounded by a waterfront park.
Central Park lines Fifth Avenue. Go into “the yard” and discover a zoo, a castle, a reservoir, an an ice-skating rink, a boathouse where you can rent rowboats, a
gorgeous “secret” conservatory garden, and plenty of trails for walking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding. It’s a park for all seasons, from ice skating in winter to free, summertime performances of Shakespeare’s plays and concerts on the Great Lawn that crescendo to dazzling displays of fireworks. After the show, you could head over to the bar at one of the neighborhood’s tony hotels, like The Mark or The Carlyle.