North of 59th Street and encompassing everything west of Central Park, the Upper West Side contains Lincoln Center, arguably the worlds premier performing arts venue; the American Museum of Natural History, whose renovated Dinosaur Halls garner justifiably rave reviews; and a number of midpriced hotels whose larger-than-Midtown rooms and nice residential location make them some of the best values in the entire city. Unlike the more stratified Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is home to an egalitarian mix of middle-class yuppiedom, laid-back wealth (lots of celebs and monied media types call the grand apartments along Central Park West home), and ethnic families who were here before the gentrification.
The neighborhood runs all the way up to Harlem, around 125th Street, and encompasses Morningside Heights, where youll find Columbia University and the perennial construction project known as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. But prime Upper West Side--the part youre most likely to explore--is the area running from Columbus Circle at 59th Street into the 80s, between the park and Broadway. North of 59th Street is where Eighth Avenue becomes Central Park West, the eastern border of the neighborhood (and the western border of Central Park); Ninth Avenue becomes Columbus Avenue, lined with attractive boutiques and cafes; and Tenth Avenue becomes Amsterdam Avenue, less charming than Columbus to the east and less trafficked than bustling Broadway (whose highlights are the gourmet mega-marts Zabars and Fairway) to the west; still, Amsterdam has blossomed into quite a happening restaurant and bar strip over the last couple of years. Youll find Lincoln Center in the mid-60s, where Broadway cross-cuts Amsterdam.
Two major subway lines service the area: the 1, 2, 3, 9 line runs up Broadway, while the B and C trains run up glamorous Central Park West, stopping right at the historic Dakota apartment building (where John Lennon was shot and Yoko still lives, albeit without an all-grown-up Sean) at 72nd Street, and at the Museum of Natural History at 81st Street.