The multiple sides of Upper West Side

Walk in NYC # 11, the multiple sides of Upper West Side, is a 3 miles self-guided tour that will take you about 2 hours of strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the museums along the way.

You’ll also go along the Hudson River and discover a grocery shop with so many mouthwatering products you’d better take a bag with you!

Highlights: American Folk Museum; Lincoln Center; Riverside Park South; Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial; Zabar’s; Marlene Meyerson JCC; American Museum of Natural History.

Metro: 66 St-Lincoln Center Station, lines 1, 2 and 3 (start);  81 St–Museum of Natural History Station, lines A, C, B and D (end).

Bus: use an app like Citymapper to find the best options with bus #, waiting time, list of stops, and where you are in the city once you’ve boarded. Your Metrocard or OMNY account will work and will be valid for transfers to the Metro and other buses. Express buses are more expensive but you can buy your ticket at the stop. The drivers are generally very helpful!

Good to know: You’ll find places to eat here and there on your way, but none along the river except in season. Restrooms in the museums and along the Hudson River Walkway. Places to sit on the Lincoln Center Plaza and in the parks.

A: Your tour starts at the American Folk Museum. You’ll find it on Columbus Ave, in front of the 66 St-Lincoln Center metro station.

It’s a free museum, a rarity in NYC, and well worth a visit to discover unusual art and sometimes be rewarded by a free concert in the lobby.

B: Once done, take W 65th St. in front of you. On the right, along the Julian School, take a flight of stairs. Then, on your left, an elevated pathway to reach the Hearst Plaza and its reflecting pool, Moore sculpture, and grassy inclined terrace.

It’s your first step at the Lincoln Center, a complex of about 30 indoor and outdoor performance facilities.  Many of them have a worldwide reputation like the Metropolitan Opera or the NY Philharmonic.

The buildings themselves are from the 1960’s. It shows in their rather severe architecture, but recent renovations make for a pleasant walk on the plaza and good people watching. The fountain and the buildings around it are also quite a sight when illuminated at night.

If it’s open when you come, go and see the famous Met staircase; otherwise, peek at it from the outside!

Next, take the W 62nd St. by way of the Damrosch Park and its famous shell where outdoors concert are fairly common at night.

Once your reach Amsterdam Ave, turn right then take the W 63rd St. on your left.

You’ll be on a pedestrian way going through the Amsterdam Houses.

It’s a housing project established in 1948,  consisting of 13 red brick buildings. Stay along a playground until you find a charming stairway. It will bring you back to W 63rd St. and its sidewalks and cars. Yet this part of the street is named Thelonious Sphere Monk Circle in honor of the American jazz pianist that lived there for years!

C: Keep going on W 63rd St. until you reach West End Ave/11th St. Turn left until W 59th St. Then turn right in order to reach the Hudson River Greenway.

Not much to see along the way except residential buildings but once you’re on the Greenway, it’s another New York experience you get: the pathway on your right is very well landscaped with plants, benches and lounge seats. It’s quiet along the river, even if the elevated highway is not far from you.

Keep walking along the river; you’ll see Locomotive Lawn and one of the locomotive that used to go to the NY Central Railroad Transfer Bridge.  The bridge itself, at least its impressive remnants, will be a bit further at pier 1 Gantry. Keep going to reach the Sanctuary with tables and lounge outdoor chairs, then Linda’s Lawn. A bit further, you’ll be able to have a drink and some food, in season, at the Pier 1 café.

D: Keep following the river a bit longer then turn right to go under the Henry Hudson Pkwy.

You’ll reach another park, and find there the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, a statue of the former 1st lady. Then a fountain, and a playground.

Generally speaking, it’s a quiet place where people of the neighborhood come to relax, between the Hudson Parkway and Riverside Drive.

Once you reach W 80th St. (you’ll have to cross a busy intersection at W 79th St.), take it on your right for two blocks.

You’ll find Zabar’s on your left, a big gourmet grocery store specialized in cheese, smoked fish, coffee, and spices.

Open since 1934, it’s a kind of NYC icon where you can also eat.  The prices are in part with the neighborhood, though, but you’ll surely find products you never thought you would see in the US.

E: Once out of the store, take Broadway on your right. Follow it until W 76th St. Take it on your left to reach the Marlene Meyerson Community Center on your right, once at Amsterdam Ave.

It’s mainly what its name implies, a Community Center. Yet you’ll find there, on the 1st floor, a small gallery open to the public, and possibly rows and rows of strollers, a sight in themselves.

F: After that, keep going on W 76th St. until you reach Central Park.

On your right, the New York Historical Society, then the American Museum of Natural History. Each will keep you busy for the remaining of your time, if you have some.

In any case, it’s where this walk ends. 

If the two museums don’t appeal to you and you want to keep exploring this part of NYC, turn right instead of left once you’re on Central Park West. You’ll be at the beginning of Walk in NYC # 12, from Central Park to the Upper East Side, just after W 73rd St.

If you’d rather visit without walking, go to the blog of or its page with photos of New York and you’ll find more NYC places worth a look.

Before you go, don’t forget your guide and see how to thank him at the bottom of the page. Then enjoy the rest of your day!

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