Central Park and The Met, Just a Couple of the Upper West Side’s Greatest Attractions

by Theodore Barrow

I’ve been all over New York City, which is to say strictly Manhattan, from Battery to Fort Tyron, Clinton to Norfolk, Gay Street to Jay street, and it all pales in comparison to the glorious Upper West Side. Yes, that grid of fantastic beauty that exquisitely stretches from 59th street up to Columbia, dripping with dank gloomy doorman buildings and brownstones that look like they were carved by Praxitiles himself (if he worked in mud and did chintzy ornament on brick), chock full of parks, malls, Sturgeon shops, and universities, this is truly the best neighborhood. Why, without even leaving the West Side, I can buy clothes at Filene’s Basement, an over-priced smoky bagel at H & H, trip out on dinosaurs, and, if I’m feeling hip, just skip over to the Met for the latest, which is to say 16 years old, Damien Hirst sensation.

What’s that? Yeah, that’s right, I said it. I said that I can go over to the Met, which means crossing central park, and not leave my beloved Upper West Side. This may seem like a surprise to most New Yorkers, but I’m not most New Yorkers. Shit, I’m not even any New Yorker, I’m an Upper West Sider, and damn proud of it.

That’s why I’m claiming the Met for the Upper BEST Side. You Upper Yeast Siders don’t even go to the museum, anyway. You can’t be bothered to cross 5th ave, which by the way is the OFFICIAL east/west dividing line, to visit the Met because you know, deep down, that it is a West Side Institution. You see those big blocks of un-carved stone on the top of the four entablatures? Those are actually hide outs for an elite force of militant Upper West Siders, ready at any moment to shower you Snobby East siders with bagels and lox, if ever this inevitable east/west beef really jumps off. Be warned.

Also, you see all those faces on the cornices? All Upper West Siders, staring defiantly at the neighborhood that they didn’t want to live in anyway. But you Upper East Siders probably wouldn’t have noticed that, because you’re too busy eating over-priced diner food, shopping at Dean and Deluca, and living in crappy high-rises, constantly looking over your shoulders for the errant plane-crashing Baseball-playing novice pilots who might come careening towards your windows at any moment. What kind of a way to live is that?!?

Just think of the met as like a giant triumphal arch for the Upper West Side. It looks Roman, doesn’t it? At least French. And that’s what the Upper West Side is like, the best parts of Rome and France, without all the piss stench. How do you get there, here’s the directions. You cross 5th ave, go through the Met, take this winding little path under a couple quaint little arches, tip your fedora to the Belvedere castle, and you end up at the Museum of Natural History facing Teddy Roosevelt, on his steed, ready to kick your lily East Side Ass. All of our museums and institutions face the Upper East Side with defiance and aggression. Passive aggression, but aggression nonetheless. What you got, Easties? You can keep the Frick, and it’s little upstart the Carnegie Manison, you can keep that slanted coil of an architects ego, the Poogenheim, and I’ll proudly keep the Met, the statue of Teddy Roosevelt, and Central park. Thanks. Thanks for nothing, jerks.

My final point? Well, just look at a map. Moving from East to west, you have York ave, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Lexington, Park, and Madison. Thats 7 fuckin’ Avenues for the upper Beast side. What do we have on the West side? West End, Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, CPW (all much more romantic and evocative sounding street names, if I do say so myself) Central (I call it Western) Park, The Met, and 5th. All the lakes, the meadows, the ramble, and the rugged beauty of the park belongs to us. You guys get The Ralph Lauren mansion and Carnegie Hill, I guess.


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