Some real estate agents use the term "Upper East Side" instead of "East Harlem" to describe areas that are slightly north of 96th Street and near Fifth Avenue, in order to avoid associating these areas with the negative connotations of the latter, a neighborhood which is generally perceived as less prestigious.
The Metropolitan Museum Historic District was designated a city district in 1977. It consists of properties on Fifth Avenue between 79th and 86th Streets, outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as properties on several side streets.: 2
The Park Avenue Historic District was designated a city district in 2014. It encompasses 64 properties on Park Avenue between 79th and 91st Streets.: 4
The Carnegie Hill Historic District was designated a city district in 1974 and expanded in 1993. It covers 400 buildings, primarily along Fifth Avenue from 86th to 98th Street, as well as on side streets extending east to Madison, Park, and Lexington Avenues.: 3
There are also two smaller city historic districts. The Henderson Place Historic District, designated in 1969, comprises the town houses on East End Avenue between 86th and 87th Streets, built by John C. Henderson in 1981. The Treadwell Farm Historic District, designated in 1967, includes low-rise apartments on East 61st and 62nd Streets between Second and Third Avenues, on the former farm of Adam Treadwell.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the mouths of streams that eroded gullies in the East River bluffs are conjectured to have been the sites of fishing camps used by the Lenape, whose controlled burns once a generation or so kept the dense canopy of oak–hickory forest open at ground level.
In the 19th century the farmland and market garden district of what was to be the Upper East Side was still traversed by the Boston Post Road and, from 1837, the New York and Harlem Railroad, which brought straggling commercial development around its one station in the neighborhood, at 86th Street, which became the heart of German Yorkville. The area was defined by the attractions of the bluff overlooking the East River, which ran without interruption from James William Beekman's "Mount Pleasant", north of the marshy squalor of Turtle Bay, to Gracie Mansion, north of which the land sloped steeply to the wetlands that separated this area from the suburban village of Harlem. Among the series of villas a Schermerhorn country house overlooked the river at the foot of present-day 73rd Street and another, Peter Schermerhorn's at 66th Street, and the Riker homestead was similarly sited at the foot of 75th Street. By the mid-19th century the farmland had largely been subdivided, with the exception of the 150 acres (61 ha) of Jones's Wood, stretching from 66th to 76th Streets and from the Old Post Road (Third Avenue) to the river and the farmland inherited by James Lenox, who divided it into blocks of houselots in the 1870s, built his Lenox Library on a Fifth Avenue lot at the farm's south-west corner, and donated a full square block for the Presbyterian Hospital, between 70th and 71st Streets, and Madison and Park Avenues. At that time, along the Boston Post Road taverns stood at the mile-markers, Five-Mile House at 72nd Street and Six-Mile House at 97th, a New Yorker recalled in 1893.
The fashionable future of the narrow strip between Central Park and the railroad cut was established at the outset by the nature of its entrance, in the southwest corner, north of the Vanderbilt family's favored stretch of Fifth Avenue from 50th to 59th Streets. A row of handsome townhouses was built on speculation by Mary Mason Jones, who owned the entire block bounded by 57th and 58th Streets and Fifth and Madison. In 1870 she occupied the prominent corner house at 57th and Fifth, though not in the isolation described by her niece, Edith Wharton, whose picture has been uncritically accepted as history, as Christopher Gray has pointed out.
It was her habit to sit in a window of her sitting room on the ground floor, as if watching calmly for life and fashion to flow northward to her solitary door... She was sure that presently the quarries, the wooden greenhouses in ragged gardens, the rocks from which goats surveyed the scene, would vanish before the advance of residences as stately as her own.
Before the Park Avenue Tunnel was covered (finished in 1910), fashionable New Yorkers shunned the smoky railroad trench up Fourth Avenue (now Park Avenue), to build stylish mansions and townhouses on the large lots along Fifth Avenue, facing Central Park, and on the adjacent side streets. The latest arrivals were the rich Pittsburghers Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. The classic phase of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue as a stretch of private mansions was not long-lasting: the first apartment house to replace a private mansion on upper Fifth Avenue was 907 Fifth Avenue (1916), at 72nd Street, the neighborhood's grand carriage entrance to Central Park.
Construction of the Third Avenue El, opened from 1878 in sections, followed by the Second Avenue El, opened in 1879, linked the Upper East Side's middle class and skilled artisans closely to the heart of the city, and confirmed the modest nature of the area to their east. The ghostly "Hamilton Square", which had appeared as one of the few genteel interruptions of the grid plan on city maps since the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, was intended to straddle what had now become the Harlem Railroad right-of-way between 66th and 69th Streets; it never materialized, though during the Panic of 1857 its unleveled ground was the scene of an open-air mass meeting called in July to agitate for the secession of the city and its neighboring counties from New York State, and the city divided its acreage into house lots and sold them. From the 1880s the neighborhood of Yorkville became a suburb of middle class Germans.
Gracie Mansion, the last remaining suburban villa overlooking the East River at Carl Schurz Park, became the home of New York's mayor in 1942. The East River Drive, designed by Robert Moses, was extended south from the first section, from 125th Street to 92nd Street, which was completed in 1934 as a boulevard, an arterial highway running at street level; reconstruction designs from 1948 to 1966 converted FDR Drive, as it was renamed after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, into the full limited-access parkway that is in use today.
Demolishing the elevated railways on Third and Second Avenues opened these tenement-lined streets to the construction of high-rise apartment blocks starting in the 1950s. However, it had an adverse effect on transportation, because the IRT Lexington Avenue Line was now the only subway line in the area. The construction of the Second Avenue Subway was originally proposed in 1919. Finally, on January 1, 2017, the first phase of the line was completed with three new stations opened. This brought in new local business to the area and had positive impact on real estate prices in the Upper East Side.
For census purposes, the New York City government classifies the Upper East Side as part of three neighborhood tabulation areas: Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, and Lenox Hill-Roosevelt Island, divided by Third Avenue and 77th Street.[a] Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the combined population of these areas was 219,920, an increase of 2,857 (1.3%) from the 217,063 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,291.51 acres (522.66 ha), the neighborhoods had a population density of 170.3 inhabitants per acre (109,000/sq mi; 42,100/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhoods was 79% (173,711) White, 3.2% (7,098) African American, 0.1% (126) Native American, 8.6% (18,847) Asian, 0% (98) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (609) from other races, and 1.8% (3,868) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 7.1% (15,563) of the population. While the White population is a dominating majority in all three census tabulation areas, it is more so in Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill compared to Yorkville and Lenox Hill-Roosevelt Island, being close to 90% of the population.
The racial composition of the Upper East Side changed moderately from 2000 to 2010. The most significant changes were the increase in the Asian population by 38% (5,145), the increase in the Hispanic/Latino population by 19% (2,537), and the decrease in the White population by 3% (5,644). The small Black population increased by 3% (191), while the even smaller population of all other races increased by 15% (628). Taking into account the three census tabulation areas, the decrease of the White population was concentrated Yorkville and Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill especially, while the increases of the other racial groups were evenly split across the three areas.
The entirety of Manhattan Community District 8, which comprises the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, had 225,914 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.9 years.: 2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.: 53 (PDF p. 84)  Most inhabitants are adults: a plurality (37%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 24% are between 45 and 64, and 20% are 65 or older. The ratio of youth and college-aged residents was lower, at 14% and 5% respectively.: 2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 8 was $123,894, though the median income in the Upper East Side individually was $131,492. In 2018, an estimated 7% of Community District 8 residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty-five residents (4%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 41% in Community District 8, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Community District 8 is not considered to be gentrifying: according to the Community Health Profile, the district was not low-income in 1990.: 7
Ethnic and socioeconomic trends
As of the 2000 census, twenty-one percent of the population was foreign born; of this, 45.6% came from Europe, 29.5% from Asia, 16.2% from Latin America and 8.7% from other areas. The female-male ratio was very high with 125 females for 100 males. The Upper East Side contains a large and affluent Jewish population estimated at 56,000. Traditionally, the Upper East Side has been dominated by wealthy White Anglo-Saxon Protestant families.
Given its very high population density and per capita income ($85,081 in 2000), the neighborhood contains the greatest concentration of individual wealth in Manhattan. As of 2011, the median household income for the Upper East Side was $131,492. The Upper East Side maintains the highest pricing per square foot in the United States. A 2002 report cited the average cost per square meter as $8,856; however, that price has noticed a substantial jump, increasing to almost as much as $11,200 per square meter as of 2006. There are some buildings which cost about $125 per square foot (~$1345/ m2). The only public housing projects for those of low to moderate incomes on the Upper East Side are located just south of the neighborhood's northern limit at 96th Street, the Holmes Towers and Isaacs Houses. It borders East Harlem, which has the highest concentration of public housing in the United States.
The Upper East Side is one of few areas of Manhattan where Republicans constitute more than 20% of the electorate. In the southwestern part of the neighborhood, Republican voters equal Democratic voters (the only such area in Manhattan), whereas in the rest of the neighborhood Republicans make up between 20 and 40% of registered voters. Nonetheless, it is still heavily Democratic; in the 2020 presidential election, every single precinct voted for Joe Biden and all but one gave him over 70% of the vote.
The Upper East Side is notable as a significant location of political fundraising in the United States. Four of the top five ZIP Codes in the nation for political contributions are in Manhattan. The top ZIP Code, 10021, is on the Upper East Side and generated the most money for the 2004 presidential campaigns of both George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Landmarks and cultural institutions
The area is host to some of the most famous museums in the world. The string of museums along Fifth Avenue fronting Central Park has been dubbed "Museum Mile", running between 82nd and 105th Streets. It was once named "Millionaire's Row". The following are among the cultural institutions on the Upper East Side:
There are several historic districts in the Upper East Side, the districts are:
The Carnegie Hill Historic District, a city landmark district, which covers 400 buildings, primarily along Fifth Avenue from 86th to 98th Street, as well as on side streets extending east to Madison, Park, and Lexington Avenues.: 3
The Metropolitan Museum Historic District, a city landmark district, which consists of properties on Fifth Avenue between 79th and 86th Streets, outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as properties on several side streets.: 2
The Upper East Side is patrolled by the 19th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 153 East 67th Street. The 19th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 82.2% between 1990 and 2022. The precinct reported 2 murders, 12 rapes, 229 robberies, 173 felony assaults, 278 burglaries, 1,724 grand larcenies, and 192 grand larcenies auto in 2022.
As of 2018[update], Manhattan Community District 8 has a non-fatal assault hospitalization rate of 15 per 100,000 people, compared to the boroughwide rate of 49 per 100,000 and the citywide rate of 59 per 100,000. Its incarceration rate is 71 per 100,000 people, the lowest in the city, compared to the boroughwide rate of 407 per 100,000 and the citywide rate of 425 per 100,000.: 8 Of the five major violent felonies (murder, rape, felony assault, robbery, and burglary), the 19th Precinct had a rate of 264 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2019, compared to the boroughwide average of 632 crimes per 100,000 and the citywide average of 572 crimes per 100,000.
In 2019, the highest concentration of felony assaults in the Upper East Side was near the intersection of 93rd Street and First Avenue, where there were 10 felony assaults. The highest concentration of robberies, on the other hand, was near the intersection of 86th Street and Lexington Avenue, where there were 19 robberies.
Engine Company 22/Ladder Company 13/Battalion 10 – 159 East 85th Street
As of 2018[update], preterm births and births to teenage mothers in the Upper East Side are lower than the city average. In the Upper East Side, there were 73 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 3.4 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).: 11 The Upper East Side has a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 4%, less than the citywide rate of 12%, though this was based on a small sample size.: 14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in the Upper East Side is 0.0083 milligrams per cubic metre (8.3×10−9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.: 9 Eight percent of Upper East Side residents are smokers, which is less than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.: 13 In the Upper East Side, 11% of residents are obese, 4% are diabetic, and 15% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.: 16 In addition, 6% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.: 12
Ninety-four percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 89% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," more than the city's average of 78%.: 13 For every supermarket in the Upper East Side, there are 5 bodegas.: 10
The Upper East Side is located in five primary ZIP Codes. From south to north, they are 10065 (south of 69th Street), 10021 (between 69th and 76th Streets), 10075 (between 76th and 80th Streets), 10028 (between 80th and 86th Streets), and 10128 (north of 86th Street). In addition, 500 East 77th Street in Yorkville has its own ZIP Code, 10162. If the AIA Guide's broader definition of the neighborhood (extending up to Fifth Avenue and 106th Streets) is considered, then the neighborhood has an additional ZIP Code of 10029, along Fifth Avenue between 96th and 105th Streets. The United States Postal Service operates four post offices in the Upper East Side:
The Upper East Side generally has a higher rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. A majority of residents age 25 and older (83%) have a college education or higher, while 3% have less than a high school education and 14% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.: 6 The percentage of the Upper East Side students excelling in math rose from 61% in 2000 to 80% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 66% to 68% during the same time period.
The Upper East Side's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In the Upper East Side, 8% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, less than the citywide average of 20%.: 24 (PDF p. 55) : 6 Additionally, 91% of high school students in the Upper East Side graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.: 6
The 67th Street branch is located at 328 East 67th Street. The branch, a Carnegie library, opened in 1905 and was restored in the 1950s and in 2000. The two-story, 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) structure resembles the Yorkville branch library in design.
The X-Men's fictional Hellfire Club mansion is said to be four blocks away from the Avengers Mansion, another fictional building at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue. Both locations would be in the Upper East Side if they were real.
^Noted at East 53rd, 62nd, 74th Streets (the Saw Kill, dammed to form the Lake in Central Park) and 80th Street (Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, 2009, p. 261 "Lenape sites and place-names").
^A reconstructed map of the patchwork ecologies of Manhattan island before Europeanization is presented in Sanderson 2009; map p. 139.
^The history of the Upper East Side, in the broader citywide context, is repeatedly noted in Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (1999).
^The original ecology of Manhattan Island and its evolution is now thoroughly explored in Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (New York: Abrams, 2009), based in part on a British army map detailing the island's natural terrain at the time of the American Revolution.
^Jones's Wood, owned by the Joneses and their Schermerhorn cousins and operated as a popular beer-garden resort, was briefly touted as a possible location for a public park before Central Park was established
^Nir, Sarah Maslin."Nowadays, 'Odd Couple' Would Have to Be Rich Couple, Too"Archived July 1, 2017, at the Wayback MachineThe New York Times (December 25, 2012). Quote: "[Their] the apartment seemed to bounce between locations. At various times it was on the Upper West Side, where some episodes seemed to indicate that the pair drove each other crazy amid the twin spires of the exclusive San Remo on Central Park West between 74th and 75th Streets. But exterior shots of their home often were across Central Park, at 1049 Park Avenue..."