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Is the Upper East Side Finally Cool?

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1 June 2012

“Derek! Wait! OH MY GOSH IT’S DEREK JETER!”

I shouted these words five years ago as I saw the star Yankee shortstop walking from his Upper East Side Manhattan apartment to a stretch limo. To my surprise, my friends and I were the only ones excited to see him.

“Why is everyone walking around like seeing a celebrity is just an average occurrence?” I thought. Well, it turns out — for the residents of the Upper East Side — seeing a celebrity such as Derek Jeter was as normal as seeing your next door neighbor.

Celebrities, business moguls, high-end fashion models, political figures — they’re all here. If you’re fortunate enough to live in this neighborhood, you don’t need to be a celebrity to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. While celebrity sightings sound appealing to most, the Upper East Side was not, in recent years, considered hip downtown’s humdrum cousin. Over the past year and half, however, the once stereotyped “sleepy and snooty” Upper East Side has become a destination thanks to an abundance of cool and attractive boutiques, restaurants and hotspots for a fun night out.

In the recent past, many younger generation people, including myself, wouldn’t think twice about where they would go to have a fun time in Manhattan. The easy answer? Hop on the subway and head straight downtown. Let’s be real: is there anywhere as fun as Soho or Tribeca, which offer trendy boutiques, luxurious lofts and fine restaurants? While this question may have been a no brainer in the past, many now reluctantly embrace the Upper East Side.

As mentioned in an article by WWD, “Madison Avenue has certainly come back in the past 18 months or so.”

In the past, Upper East Side stores catered to a more neighborhood-based clientele than trendy Downtown boutiques did. This is no longer the case, as these once stereotyped ritzy blocks are opening new doors to a more diverse group of people. These new stores include a plethora of younger labels which have attracted a crowd that, say two years ago, would default to shopping on the streets of Soho. Some of these new, trendy and long overdue hot spots on the Upper East Side include Joie, Vince, Rebecca Taylor. Others are expected to open soon, including Proenza Schouler and Ippolita.Ryan Korban designed UES Joie store
Ryan Korban designed UES Joie store  

In addition to the Upper East Side’s change in the retail climate, new restaurants and other hotspots have attracted crowds looking to get out and have fun. Many downtown regulars have found themselves migrating from popular downtown destinations to come to Uptown  workout facilities, including SoulCycle East and Brownings Fitness. (Who isn’t hungry after a great workout? I know I always am!)  You will be delighted to hear that less expensive uptown restaurants are popping up to offer good grub for less dinero. The Village Voice says that Toloache and Hospoda restaurants, in particular, are ideal for the young  generation to dine and hang.

Spending time on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is not only a chance to try out some of the city’s best restaurants and shopping, but also allows New Yorkers and tourists the ability to experience a popular neighborhood undergoing a revolutionary turning point — where old and new are still at each other’s foils.

By Candice Ibarra


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Posted by Candice Ibarra at 01:32 PM
CITY LIFESTYLE , In the Neighborhood , NY Life , Opinions |



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