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Reasons to Love New York

28. Because the Upper East Side Has No Interest in Being the Next Cool Neighborhood

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It’s not fashionable to love the Upper East Side these days. Anyone who consider themselves at all groovy and/or comes into a juicy, multi-zeroed bonus/three-picture deal/inheritance heads south, for square footage in Soho and Tribeca, or West Village quaintness. There’s a good reason for this. It’s stodgy uptown. People wear Barbour jackets and Belgian shoes. Moving there is an eighties impulse, or it’s a family-motivated one, viewed by many a downtowner as unthinkable as moving to Larchmont or Rye. But Lexington Avenue between Hunter College and 79th Street is as lovely a slice of Jane Jacobsean New York as you’ll find anywhere below 14th Street. It’s a fantasy of urban life, a time capsule of old Manhattan. There are no chain shops in this row, just so many tiny mom-and-pop storefronts selling weird jewelry, botanic prints, ballet slippers. There are cobblers, barbers, butchers, opticians, diners, and nice little restaurants that aren’t packed six-deep at the bar. There are fancy, glamorous things (Il Papiro sells Florentine paper and stationery, Payard may be the best place in the world for tea and macaroons), and there are the perfect staples that no neighborhood is complete without (Shakespeare & Co. is one of the city’s last great indie bookshops, Neil’s is a classic and cozy coffee shop). There are trees on the streets, kids walking home from school, errands being run by people you can tell are close to home. Who needs downtown?


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