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The Death of (the Idea of) the Upper East Side

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Even that is changing. Last year, Claremont Prep, a K-through-eight private academy, opened its doors on Broad Street in the financial district, providing an alternative for downtown parents who have been sending their kids across the river to Saint Ann’s in Brooklyn. The entire neighborhood has been reoriented. “Before, families would look on Fifth, Park, and the Gracie Mansion area and the Upper East Side,” says Corcoran broker Maria Pashby. “As recently as five years ago, families with children would tend to come uptown. No more. I just sold 31 N. Moore Street, and everyone who looked was families, families, families. With children. No single people.”

Some of those younger kids will go to P.S. 234, on Greenwich Street between Chambers and Warren, where on a typical afternoon you see almost as many dads as moms scooping up kids with Small Paul and SpongeBob backpacks. Whereas you won’t see any dads outside Buckley or Allen-Stevenson at this hour, and the mothers will tend to have a certain shade of blonde hair that seems indigenous to the East Seventies. Apparently there’s still some truth to geography; certain stereotypes endure for the moment. None of the mothers outside P.S. 234 are wearing Chanel ballet slippers. “It’s a great school,” shouts one of the fathers, an art dealer in cargo pants and a Black Flag T-shirt who is escorting his fifth-grade son to karate lessons. “The only problem is the construction noise.” We can hardly hear ourselves speak over the din emanating from building sites in the area, huge new residential towers at 200 Chambers and 101 Warren. In a year or two, his son will have plenty of new sparring partners.

In the meantime, my fiancée sweetly agreed to move downtown, becoming part of what seems more and more like a general migration. We are waiting to close on a prewar apartment in the Village, and we continue to shuttle up and down. Last night, we started at a reading and book signing in the Village, then joined another couple at Le Cirque, where we waved to at least a half-dozen of her friends, admired some major jewelry, winced at some unsuccessful surgery, and talked about acquaintances at nearby tables, people whose names regularly appear in W and Avenue and Quest, none of whom appeared to have any desire to be anywhere else.


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