Upper, Upper West Side

New York, New York Guide (A): Upper, Upper West Side

Though known for its stately old buildings and quiet neighborhood feel, the Upper West Side of Manhattan includes some of the city’s most illustrious institutions, inspiring statuary, sumptuous food, and magnificent views. This tour takes you on an insider’s path from the start of Riverside Park and ends further uptown in Morningside Heights, known as the “Academic Acropolis” since it sits on one of highest natural points in Manhattan.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Upper, Upper West Side
Guide Location: USA » New York
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.1 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Eleanor Roosevelt Monument   Pier 1   Boat Basin   Zabar's   People's Garden   Firemen's Memorial   Shinran Shonin Statue   Tom's Restaurant   The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine   Hungarian Pastry Shop   Columbia University in the City of New York   The Riverside Church in the City of New York   Grant’s Tomb  
Author: Andrea Simon
Author Bio: Andrea Simon is a writer and photographer who lives in New York City. She has worked as an editor and writer, and was the co-owner of an editorial/production company. Recently, she has been writing literary fiction and nonfiction, including her published memoir, Bashert: A Granddaughter’s Holocaust Quest. She has published several stories and essays and has been the recipient of prestigious literary honors. Andrea’s photography has been featured at numerous venues.
Author Website: http://www.andreasimon.net
Eleanor Roosevelt Monument

1) Eleanor Roosevelt Monument

Standing as a welcome to Riverside Park, this bronze-and-stone figure is the first public statue of a president’s wife and the second of an American woman in New York City. Created by famed sculptor, Penelope Jencks, the eight-foot likeness was dedicated in 1996 when Hillary Rodham Clinton, an admirer of Eleanor, gave the keynote address. Anna Eleanor married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin, in 1905. During his tenure, she expanded the role of First Lady, giving lectures, radio...
Pier 1

2) Pier 1

For an upfront Hudson River experience, take a seat on the pier, originally part of the Penn Central rail yard, newly renovated to its original length of 795 feet, though its width has been narrowed. The angled pier is part of the Riverside Park South (59th-72nd Streets), an apartment complex also known as Trump Place. From May to October, weather permitting, the lovely outdoor café across from the pier offers delicious burgers and unusual treats like blueberry lemonade. During these months,...
Boat Basin

3) Boat Basin

Enjoying your stroll uptown along the Hudson River promenade, you will see an array of pleasure boats docked in the marina and if you look to your right upwards, you will notice an old stone edifice built into a cliff topped with green umbrellas. Follow the stairs into this casual, cavernous restaurant that is divided into three sections: an open-air patio that provides breathtaking views of the marina and Hudson River, or sunsets over New Jersey; a covered rotunda with limestone arches and a...

4) Zabar's

To sample the true Upper West Side palette ― and what has become indigenous New York food itself ― enter Zabar’s, an area presence for over 70 years. Spanning almost an entire block, this world-renowned store has over 20,000 square feet, including a cheese counter, a ground coffee station (selling over 8,000 pounds a week), a fish counter, and an upstairs housewares division with a huge selection of imported copper cookware. Once inside, you will be swept by crowds of shoppers, elbowing...
People's Garden

5) People's Garden

Riverside Park is known for its exquisite flowers and trees, including clusters of cherry and crab apples, but one of the most spectacular displays can be found along the inside promenade on 90th-91st Streets. Grab a seat on the many surrounding benches and enjoy the beloved community garden that began at another location in 1977 and was relocated to this spot in 1981. About 40 volunteers from the Garden People tend individual plots within the dual-enclosed gardens, which bloom with bold...
Firemen's Memorial

6) Firemen's Memorial

Inspired from the 1908 funeral of Deputy Fire Chief Charles A. Kruger, the memorial was dedicated by Right Reverend Henry C. Potter in 1913 to “our brave citizens who have lost or will sacrifice their lives in a war that never ends.” The memorial includes a grand staircase, benches, and a fountain basin. Mounted on a marble plaza, the central monument is a 19-feet long sarcophagus-like structure with a massive bronze bas-relief sculpture of three galloping horses pulling a fire engine to a...
Shinran Shonin Statue

7) Shinran Shonin Statue

Tucked between handsome Riverside Drive homes, surprising many a passerby, this 15-foot-high bronze statue of a Japanese Buddhist monk in his missionary robes with peasant hat and sandals holding a wooden staff, stands proudly in front of the New York Buddhist Church. Born in 1173, Shinran was the founder of Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land Religion) or Shin Buddhism. Believing in spreading the doctrine of salvation though compassion, Shinran wrote a significant text that includes commentaries on...
Tom's Restaurant

8) Tom's Restaurant

A typical New York Greek diner, reasonably priced and featuring a large menu with daily specials, Tom’s is frequented by locals plus students and faculty of Columbia University in the neighborhood known as Morningside Heights. It has been the locale that inspired Suzanne Vega’s song, “Tom’s Diner,” and the exterior was used for the fictional Monk’s Café featured as the hangout in the sitcom, Seinfeld. Among the notables who ate here are President Barack Obama and Senator John...
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

9) The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

The cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, St. John the Divine is arguably the largest cathedral and Anglican church, and the fourth largest Christian Church, in the world, with an interior that covers 121,000 square feet. In a constant state of restoration and construction, nicknamed “St. John the Unfinished,” this historic Gothic Revival masterpiece has a number of chapels, arches, and columns in various architectural styles. Construction began in 1892 and the first services were...
Hungarian Pastry Shop

10) Hungarian Pastry Shop

I am not alone in calling this small historic gem my favorite writing place in the city. Normally busy with students and faculty from Columbia University armed with laptops and textbooks, this cozy nook has been the place to study and gossip for neighborhood intellectuals since the ‘60s. Walk into the shop and gaze at the array of European pastries, such as strudel, sacher torte, linzer torte, baklava (the shop is Greek-owned), chocolate mousse, black forest cake, and mounds of cookies. Tell...
Columbia University in the City of New York

11) Columbia University in the City of New York

With over 4,000 faculty members and 23,000 students, this great Ivy League university has produced 70 Nobel Prize laureates. The birthplace of modern anthropology, academic international relations, and the oral-history movement, the university is renowned for atomic research and journalistic excellence among other disciplines. Designed as an urban village, the Morningside Heights campus houses three undergraduate schools, as well as graduate and professional schools. (The Medical Center is...
The Riverside Church in the City of New York

12) The Riverside Church in the City of New York

It’s difficult to go anywhere in this neighborhood without seeing the soaring Gothic limestone tower (rising to 392 feet) of Riverside Church, an interdenominational (American Baptist and United Church of Christ), interracial, international congregation, with a rich history (opened main altar in 1930) as a neighborhood institution and tourist destination. Also a center for political activism, Riverside has attracted such luminaries as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, and...
Grant’s Tomb

13) Grant’s Tomb

Established in 1897, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the General Grant National Memorial rises 150 feet from a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. This majestic uptown landmark is a classically proportioned mausoleum (the largest in North America) containing the bodies of Ulysses. S. Grant, American Civil War General and the 18th President of the U.S., and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. The bodies rest in red granite coffins in an open crypt filling the center of a circular...

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