Why the Upper West Side Is New York’s Culture Capital
New York has a slew of cultural hubs, from Brooklyn’s Park Slope to Queens’ Long Island City, but none of them compare to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. From its museums to its comedy clubs, from its movie theaters to its music venues, this neighborhood packs a truly staggering amount of world-class cultural venues into its two square miles. Here’s a guide to the different art forms represented within the UWS.
The UWS comedy scene gives you the best of everything. The neighborhood’s West Side Comedy Club, newly opened by two veterans of Caroline’s, in Midtown, showcases up-and-coming talent. Elsewhere, Stand Up NY regularly hosts big-name comedians such as Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, and Caroline Rhea. (Incidentally, many of these performers have also chosen to live in this neighborhood.)
The UWS houses the Beacon Theatre, known for hosting the Tony Awards (for theatrical achievement), the performing-arts venue Symphony Space, the performing-arts branch of the New York Public Library, and Lincoln Center’s storied Claire Tow and Vivian Beaumont theaters (among others). The last is NYC’s only Broadway theater that is not in the Theater District.
There are two AMC theaters in this neighborhood, but if you’re more of an arthouse-film buff, you can enjoy the Walter Reade, the Francesca Beale, and other indie theaters and screening rooms. There’s an entire film center within Lincoln Center, and the aforementioned library contains hundreds of films within its collection.
Art lovers can choose between the Museum of Arts and Design, the American Folk Art Museum, and the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. Although neither bills itself as an art museum, the nearby New York Historical Society and legendary American Museum of Natural History also boast art collections that rival the world’s leading galleries. Admire New York-related paintings, photographs, and sculptures, at the first; artworks and artifacts from ancient civilizations, at the second.
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New York Textile Month begins today! The city-wide festival celebrates textile creativity and promotes textile awareness. Start your textile exploration with a visit to “Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann,” the exhibition dedicated to the legendary textile designer and entrepreneur. Over two hundred textiles, paintings, and works on paper produced for Neumann’s lines for the home and women’s fashion between 1950 and 1980 tell the story of the artist behind the Vera brand. The exhibition is the first to comprehensively examine Nemann’s career—and highlights the keys to her success: her joyful and inventive aesthetic, democratic design ethos, fusion of craft and mass production, and clever marketing. Tap link in profile to plan your visit! @newyorktextilemonth #VeraPaintsaScarf #VeraNeumann #NYTM2019 #textiles #textiledesign #womendesigners #designhistory
Music may be the best represented of any UWS art form. You’ve got Lincoln Center jazz venue Dizzy’s Club, the aforementioned Beacon Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York Philharmonic’s digs at David Geffen Hall, and the bandshell at Damrosch Park — not to mention the world’s most prestigious music conservatory, Juilliard. Farther uptown, there’s Prohibition, which hosts one of the city’s best-known open-mic nights.
The neighborhood is most closely associated with New York City Ballet, but it also hosts groups like American Ballet Theater and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. One of New Yorkers’ favorite public dance events, Midsummer Night’s Swing, takes place annually on Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza, and the School of American Ballet and STEPS on Broadway are among several UWS dance academies.
If you’re interested in experiencing New York’s culture capital yourself, check out our latest exclusive offers and book your Upper West Side stay today.