The Upper West Side is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, a reliable bastion of liberal politics, home to Jerry Seinfeld, Eric Schneiderman and Scott Stringer alike.
It’s also home to the city’s best delis and diners.
Take Artie’s, for example.
The 15-year-old delicatessen is a West Side institution that attracts middle-aged condo and co-op residents eager for the tastes of home.
“In most families, both spouses are normally working a profession where they work late, and it’s hard for them to prepare or cook,” said Artie’s owner Barry Orenstein. “We have knishes, chopped liver, pastrami, matzo ball soup—everything your grandmother made.”
But the Upper West Side of most New Yorkers’ memories is changing.
Just under 210,000 people live in the two-square-mile area bounded by Cathedral Parkway, the Hudson River Expressway, West 59th Street and Central Park West.
The area is almost entirely developed—the population growth has hovered at 1 percent over the past decade. But a growing number of power singles—high-earning individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s who rent or own condos—are moving to the neighborhood. The change is evident in the area’s commercial corridors.
Neighborhood shops are getting priced out in favor of luxury retail chains catering to moneyed newcomers. Even Artie’s is contracting, renovating its protruding sidewalk café because business has slowed.
Over half of the neighborhood’s residents, 59.8 percent, are single. Another 40.2 percent are in married households, but only 12.4 percent are in married households with children under the age of 18—perhaps lower than many people expect for an area with a family-friendly reputation.
Women make up an estimated 54 percent of the population; 46 percent are men. About 67.4 percent of residents are white, 15 percent are Latino, 7.6 percent are black and 7.6 percent are Asian, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
The median household income is $73,836, nearly double the city’s median income of $38,293. It’s no wonder that home prices average above $1.07 million, making this one of the priciest areas in the city.
Still, the neighborhood has been selecting Democrats to represent them in Congress, the state Legislature and City Council for generations.
And its boisterously liberal spirit serves as the base for a handful of ambitious politicians hoping to grace the national stage.
That’s what attracted Orenstein to the Upper West Side 40 years ago. He hasn’t left since.
“It’s more intellectual, it’s not as blond, it’s more Jewish,” he said. “More people read The New York Times and The New Yorker here, instead of Vogue, USA Today and the Post, which I wouldn’t even wrap my fish in.”
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