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bringonthepretenders
09-30-2017, 12:35 PM
Hi,

I'm writing a short story set in NYC, in Upper East Manhattan to be specific. I've never been there, so it would be great if anyone can tell me any helpful descriptions.

Helix
09-30-2017, 12:50 PM
Might be worth being more specific about things you'd like to know.

And :welcome: to AW.

ap123
09-30-2017, 03:32 PM
Hi,

I'm writing a short story set in NYC, in Upper East Manhattan to be specific. I've never been there, so it would be great if anyone can tell me any helpful descriptions.

The Upper East Side? El Barrio? (aka Spanish Harlem)


Might be worth being more specific about things you'd like to know.

And :welcome: to AW.

Yup.
I'm happy to help, but need to know what types of things you're looking for and some rough basics about the character you're developing. Living in NY can = very different experiences for people living on the same block.

GregFH
09-30-2017, 04:02 PM
New Yorkers love to talk about their city. But we would need to know more. Where on the Upper East Side? What are the age, sex, profession and economic situation of the characters? Is it modern day, or some other time? Why did you pick the UES? Are the characters native NYers, or are they transplants? If the latter, when and from where? Are you just looking for a physical description of the neighborhood, or more? If the latter, what else? When during the year does the story take place? (We very much have a four season climate.) We can probably point you to some movies, books, and stories that will help as well as add our own comments, but fill us in on the details of your story.

Siri Kirpal
09-30-2017, 10:06 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I have never lived in New York City. But I do have some experience there.

Many New Yorkers don't drive. Subways and buses are the primary mode of transportation. If they have to close a subway station for a whatever reason, it can throw off a lot of people's commute. There are charts of both systems available online, I think.

Outside of NYC, most grocery stores are on one level, street level. Not so true in NYC. We've been in a Trader Joe's that's one two levels, both below the street, and a Fairway Market mostly at street level, but with all their organic stuff plus a café on the second floor. Check the individual store if you need one for your story.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Bongo
09-30-2017, 10:40 PM
I'm a New Yorker. As others have said, specific questions would make it easier to respond. There's lots going on in this city. I'm more familiar with midtown, downtown and the upper west side, but if you have things in particular that you want to know, I'd do my best to help - a lot of NY shares similarities.

Knowing why you're choosing the upper east side would be helpful, also. Are your characters wealthy, or struggling? Are they the artistic type? Where exactly do they live, and why are they choosing to live there?

One of the recent additions to life in the city (past decade maybe?) are the bicycles that are for rent. When they first introduced them I couldn't imagine them being something anyone would use, but it's amazing how many people do. I never have (riding a bike in midtown Manhattan isn't the safest means of transportation), but most NYers have no problem at all with it.

Native NYers are also all fairly upset by the corporate takeovers that have happened. There are Starbucks, Duane Reades, Dunkin Donuts, etc. every 2 blocks. They used to all be mom & pop type places. A lot of personality has been sucked out of NY because of that. Many of the best restaurants, and pretty much all of the most popular and historic clubs have been replaced by the above.

Oh yeah... another thing. Most NYers aren't NYers. A friend of mine used to always say, "If you want to meet a nice country girl, go to NYC." :) Most city dwellers are transplants. They used to come from all over the US. Now they come from all over the world. It is truly a melting pot.

snafu1056
10-01-2017, 08:45 AM
Depends on the neighborhood. NYC is a collection of micro-communities. The upper east side is the most expensive part of the city near Central park, so if your character lives there they're probably doing ok. I don't really know much about what's north of that because like many New Yorkers much of the city is a mystery to me. New Yorkers can be extremely provincial and totally ignorant of what's going on just a few miles away. Even if your character was born and raised on the upper east side, it's completely conceivable they they would know nothing about Queens or Staten island. Every borough might as well be a separate city in that regard.

ap123
10-01-2017, 02:38 PM
Depends on the neighborhood. NYC is a collection of micro-communities. The upper east side is the most expensive part of the city near Central park, so if your character lives there they're probably doing ok. I don't really know much about what's north of that because like many New Yorkers much of the city is a mystery to me. New Yorkers can be extremely provincial and totally ignorant of what's going on just a few miles away. Even if your character was born and raised on the upper east side, it's completely conceivable they they would know nothing about Queens or Staten island. Every borough might as well be a separate city in that regard.

The Upper East Side hasn't been the most expensive neighborhood in quite some time, even if you limit to areas bordering Central Park. Upper West and Midtown East are both pricier, and if you take the park out of the equation there are several other Manhattan neighborhoods pricier than they are.

snafu1056
10-02-2017, 10:40 PM
Oh, ok. I cant afford to live in any of those places anyway so I guess I dont keep up on it.

My dad did have a rent-controlled place on the upper west side in the 80s. A block away from the park. That was pretty awesome.

blacbird
10-03-2017, 04:43 AM
How much money does your MC have?

caw

benbenberi
10-03-2017, 04:57 PM
And what's the timeframe - when is the story set, & how long has the MC lived there?

Time was, the UES had a lot of housing for normal middle class families. Recently, not so much.

Google Maps can show you the neighborhood from the street. Real estate listings can get you inside some of the buildings -- plenty of them online, they change frequently.

The NY Times has a real estate feature called "Living In..." that profiles neighborhoods in & around the city. There have been a few on the UES: Carnegie Hill (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/realestate/carnegie-hill-a-quiet-enclave-bordering-the-park.html), East End Avenue (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/realestate/east-end-avenue-a-gated-state-of-mind.html), Yorkville (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/realestate/on-the-upper-east-side-yorkville-rebounds.html), all very different from each other.

Now that the Second Avenue subway has opened & the eastern parts of the area are more accessible, there's likely to be a lot of change.

bringonthepretenders
10-04-2017, 06:44 AM
Native NYers are also all fairly upset by the corporate takeovers that have happened. There are Starbucks, Duane Reades, Dunkin Donuts, etc. every 2 blocks. They used to all be mom & pop type places. A lot of personality has been sucked out of NY because of that. Many of the best restaurants, and pretty much all of the most popular and historic clubs have been replaced by the above.

I'm not a native NY, let alone an American, and even I'm upset! Haha, at least the museums are still around because the culture looks really beautiful. :)

bringonthepretenders
10-04-2017, 06:45 AM
My character's a college student. His dad's the owner of a wealthy brokerage firm. Both are born and raised in UES, and the story's set in the modern-present-day.

bringonthepretenders
10-04-2017, 06:46 AM
Physical descriptions would be helpful. Also, the people... Is there a prevailing cultural attitude/personality trait among New Yorkers in the UES?

bringonthepretenders
10-04-2017, 07:15 AM
What's it like living in New York during the transition from Fall to Winter?

cornflake
10-04-2017, 07:26 AM
Physical descriptions would be helpful. Also, the people... Is there a prevailing cultural attitude/personality trait among New Yorkers in the UES?

He's a college student living at home? Where does he go to school?

That's so vague ... I mean ... also, the UES is both a very small and very large area. I'm going to presume you mean the kind of mid 60s to mid 70s Fifth to Park area. In a general sense, that's kind of where we keep the Republicans. However, I know people who live in that exact area who are the total opposite of Republicans. It's a more buttoned-up sort of area, sort of, but it's hard to explain to someone not here, because you're talking about single blocks and areas and people, especially kids, are much more defined by things like the schools they attend than where they live.

I mean this sincerely -- when you meet people who also grew up here (and it's not as rare as some would have you believe), the first question is never 'where do/did you live' it's 'where'd you go to school?' by which people generally mean either h.s. or a longer-attended school. That really speaks to your culture, your parents' culture, etc., more than your apartment, as that's a function of a whole lot of factors that don't necessarily relate to stuff like you'd think.

- - - Updated - - -


What's it like living in New York during the transition from Fall to Winter?

What does that mean? What's it like living anywhere then??

Cath
10-04-2017, 03:30 PM
Physical descriptions would be helpful. Also, the people... Is there a prevailing cultural attitude/personality trait among New Yorkers in the UES?
You need to do work like this yourself. It sounds very much like you are trying to shoehorn a story into a place - and one that you are not familiar with at that.

Your questions are much too vague to get useful answers. I strongly recommend reviewing the Forum Guidelines and learning to ask more specific questions.

GregFH
10-04-2017, 03:34 PM
What's it like living in New York during the transition from Fall to Winter?

New York City very much has a four season climate, but there's a lot of variability from day to day. Fall can often be beautiful here, sunny and relatively warm days with nicely cool nights. It's a very invigorating time, although the days are shortening, which anyone who gets up early notices since NYC is towards the east end of the time zone. Fall days can also be wet and cool. Humidity goes up and down a lot, and high humidity makes heat hotter and cold colder. Wind tends to be magnified in Manhattan because so many blocks are lined with tall buildings that channel the wind, so a wet, windy, cool day in the fall can be very uncomfortable. A lot of New Yorkers love their street life, so if it's anywhere near warm enough they'll be sitting in out door cafes enjoying the day even if they have to be in jackets or coats. While we do see snow in winter, we generally see very little of it until after the New Year, although there are exceptions. As fall goes on, days and nights gradually get cooler. To give you some idea of variability, I have been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade dozens of times (I live near where it begins). I have watched it in all kinds of weather, from in the 20s with light snow to sunny and the 60s. Today the predicted high is 77, although the average for the date is about 68. The record high is over 80. The predicted low is 61, although the average is about 55, and the record is about 36. The weather statistics are very easy to find on the web. If your story is set in a definite year or years, simply look up the weather for the time you've picked.

Fall by the way is when everything changes in NYC. The schools go back into session. Baseball is winding down, and the Yankees are usually in the play offs. Football and then hockey and basketball begin. (We've got 11 major league sports teams, 2 baseball, 2 football, 2 basketball, 3 hockey and 2 soccer.) This is not a big college football town but there is a lot of attention paid to college basketball. The new Broadway season begins in September, so by later in the fall discussion is about which new shows are going to make it and which won't. All the TV networks are headquartered here, so there is a lot of talk about the new TV seasons, too. Towards the end of the year, Oscar discussion picks up as the last big blockbusters open for the Christmas season. Most years are some sort of election year since the city elections are in odd numbered years while the federal and state elections are in even numbered years. The Christmas season is huge here. Stores decorate beyond belief, and people come from all over the world just to see the store windows. The sidewalks on Fifth Avenue, the main shopping street, become nearly impassable. Lord & Taylor's windows are so popular that you have to wait in line to see them. The city is very full with tourists from Thanksgiving until New Year's. The lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center just after Thanksgiving is a landmark day every year. On December Saturdays, Herald Square, where Macy's is, is the busiest passenger intersection in the world. Vehicular traffic during the season is also horrendous. Once you get past Thanksgiving, there is an incredible number of holiday parties by employers and organizations and individuals. And then there is of course Times Square for New Year's eve. By the time you get to January, there is a sense that the whole city is near exhausted.

GregFH
10-04-2017, 05:16 PM
A few more thoughts that came to me while on the subway on the way to work:

A lot of the white collar professional/business entry level jobs begin right after Labor Day, so every fall the city is full of another crop of thousands and thousands of freshly minted lawyers and MBAs, etc., who have moved here from all over the country and the world and are trying to get used to NYC. Your character's father's brokerage firm would probably have some new employees fresh from college or graduate school, depending on how big the firm is.

Halloween is huge in NYC, partly because of the sizable gay community and partly because it's a party town.

Because of the weather, we all tend to have four different wardrobes, and the change of seasons is when we switch. A good number of New Yorkers, especially on the UES, are big fashionistas, and you can tell by looking at people on the streets what the latest fashions are, which appear with the change of seasons.

Native UESers, if they are sports fans, tilt heavily towards Yankees-Giants-Rangers-Knicks.

GregFH
10-04-2017, 05:29 PM
Physical descriptions would be helpful. Also, the people... Is there a prevailing cultural attitude/personality trait among New Yorkers in the UES?

The most deeply rooted set of UESers are the really old Dutch and WASP New Yorkers, but there are very few of the first and not many more of the second. If your character is a third generation--or more--UESer, he's probably either WASP, Irish or German Jewish. The UES is part of the "Silk Stocking District", historically and still very close to the richest of the Congressional Districts in the U.S. Until the 50s or so, it was dependably Republican (moderate Rockefeller Republican), but now tends more establishment Democratic. Wikipedia has an article on the UES, and you should read that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_East_Side.

This NY Times article is from 2014, but probably current enough for your purposes: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/realestate/for-starters-the-upper-east-side.html?_r=0


There is a lot of money on the UES, both old and new. It is always one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the U.S. and one of the richest, if not the richest. To the extent the U.S. has a blue blood old society, it's home base is the UES of NYC.

GregFH
10-04-2017, 05:34 PM
My character's a college student. His dad's the owner of a wealthy brokerage firm. Both are born and raised in UES, and the story's set in the modern-present-day.

I agree with cornflake that you need to pay attention to where this student goes to school. The UES is extremely school conscious, and I mean extremely. If you're a native there and you did not go to both a short list of private high schools AND one of the Ivy League or Poison Ivy League colleges, you just aren't the same social level as those who did. And in the finance world you'd need to add an MBA from a top 5 or so B-School. If your student character didn't follow this path, well, there's a classic conflict because it's likely a big departure from daddy's expectations, although there are exceptions. You could also have a brokerage firm owner who goes out of his way to discourage his children from following in his path because he's decided he's spent a lifetime building what's become a trapped, empty, soulless experience. But I leave that part to you.

cornflake
10-04-2017, 06:54 PM
New York City very much has a four season climate, but there's a lot of variability from day to day. Fall can often be beautiful here, sunny and relatively warm days with nicely cool nights. It's a very invigorating time, although the days are shortening, which anyone who gets up early notices since NYC is towards the east end of the time zone. Fall days can also be wet and cool. Humidity goes up and down a lot, and high humidity makes heat hotter and cold colder. Wind tends to be magnified in Manhattan because so many blocks are lined with tall buildings that channel the wind, so a wet, windy, cool day in the fall can be very uncomfortable. A lot of New Yorkers love their street life, so if it's anywhere near warm enough they'll be sitting in out door cafes enjoying the day even if they have to be in jackets or coats. While we do see snow in winter, we generally see very little of it until after the New Year, although there are exceptions. As fall goes on, days and nights gradually get cooler. To give you some idea of variability, I have been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade dozens of times (I live near where it begins). I have watched it in all kinds of weather, from in the 20s with light snow to sunny and the 60s. Today the predicted high is 77, although the average for the date is about 68. The record high is over 80. The predicted low is 61, although the average is about 55, and the record is about 36. The weather statistics are very easy to find on the web. If your story is set in a definite year or years, simply look up the weather for the time you've picked.

Fall by the way is when everything changes in NYC. The schools go back into session. Baseball is winding down, and the Yankees are usually in the play offs. Football and then hockey and basketball begin. (We've got 11 major league sports teams, 2 baseball, 2 football, 2 basketball, 3 hockey and 2 soccer.) This is not a big college football town but there is a lot of attention paid to college basketball. The new Broadway season begins in September, so by later in the fall discussion is about which new shows are going to make it and which won't. All the TV networks are headquartered here, so there is a lot of talk about the new TV seasons, too. Towards the end of the year, Oscar discussion picks up as the last big blockbusters open for the Christmas season. Most years are some sort of election year since the city elections are in odd numbered years while the federal and state elections are in even numbered years. The Christmas season is huge here. Stores decorate beyond belief, and people come from all over the world just to see the store windows. The sidewalks on Fifth Avenue, the main shopping street, become nearly impassable. Lord & Taylor's windows are so popular that you have to wait in line to see them. The city is very full with tourists from Thanksgiving until New Year's. The lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center just after Thanksgiving is a landmark day every year. On December Saturdays, Herald Square, where Macy's is, is the busiest passenger intersection in the world. Vehicular traffic during the season is also horrendous. Once you get past Thanksgiving, there is an incredible number of holiday parties by employers and organizations and individuals. And then there is of course Times Square for New Year's eve. By the time you get to January, there is a sense that the whole city is near exhausted.

Obviously stuff is individual but like tv and movie talk I think is pretty national/LA more than specific to here, not that people don't discuss it here, but same as anyplace really, in a general sense, and as for the rest, most of the holiday stuff doesn't affect anyone I know who isn't a tourist or doesn't work *right there* in Midtown. I don't know anyone who has ever gone to the lighting of the tree or cares and I notice it happens when they show it did on the news. Unless you work there, in my experience, and I have and it's a fucking nightmare, you just avoid the area, save taking kids or out-of-towners to look at the lights and windows on some off-brand Tuesday after the tourists have gone to bed. I know a couple of people who have allowed themselves to be dragged to NYE by tourist friends or family who were devoted to the idea, but most people I know would never, like as a point of pride would never.


I agree with cornflake that you need to pay attention to where this student goes to school. The UES is extremely school conscious, and I mean extremely. If you're a native there and you did not go to both a short list of private high schools AND one of the Ivy League or Poison Ivy League colleges, you just aren't the same social level as those who did. And in the finance world you'd need to add an MBA from a top 5 or so B-School. If your student character didn't follow this path, well, there's a classic conflict because it's likely a big departure from daddy's expectations, although there are exceptions. You could also have a brokerage firm owner who goes out of his way to discourage his children from following in his path because he's decided he's spent a lifetime building what's become a trapped, empty, soulless experience. But I leave that part to you.

This too... everyone is individual but in my experience, as I said, colleges, to a NYer are not the thing that comes up when you meet another native NYer and say where did you go to school, and Ivys aren't such a deal. I mean in brokerage firms maybe but in a general sense. Also, there are public schools here just as, if not more revered than private, and the schools are also broken into sections (private, the high-end public, catholic, Friends, CS, etc.), sort of, and private isn't really 'above' them, just, as I said, explains things about you, your family, etc.

ap123
10-05-2017, 02:17 PM
Obviously stuff is individual but like tv and movie talk I think is pretty national/LA more than specific to here, not that people don't discuss it here, but same as anyplace really, in a general sense, and as for the rest, most of the holiday stuff doesn't affect anyone I know who isn't a tourist or doesn't work *right there* in Midtown. I don't know anyone who has ever gone to the lighting of the tree or cares and I notice it happens when they show it did on the news. Unless you work there, in my experience, and I have and it's a fucking nightmare, you just avoid the area, save taking kids or out-of-towners to look at the lights and windows on some off-brand Tuesday after the tourists have gone to bed. I know a couple of people who have allowed themselves to be dragged to NYE by tourist friends or family who were devoted to the idea, but most people I know would never, like as a point of pride would never.



This too... everyone is individual but in my experience, as I said, colleges, to a NYer are not the thing that comes up when you meet another native NYer and say where did you go to school, and Ivys aren't such a deal. I mean in brokerage firms maybe but in a general sense. Also, there are public schools here just as, if not more revered than private, and the schools are also broken into sections (private, the high-end public, catholic, Friends, CS, etc.), sort of, and private isn't really 'above' them, just, as I said, explains things about you, your family, etc.

+ 1 to the bolded. When I was young I worked as a cocktail waitress, and when the first holiday came I was confused by how packed it was but how little $ I was making, and I was told "holidays are for the house." In Manhattan, for those who aren't recent transplants, holidays are for the house. If what you're trying to create is an old money blue blood family, they might have the house decorated for Christmas, but they aren't here for the holidays themselves, they're out of town.

Not to say it doesn't exist, because it's a big and densely populated city, but I don't know/know of any Upper East Siders whose college-aged children live at home and commute to school. Yes, we have many colleges, but if you are trying to create that wealthy, blue-blood background (which it seems you are) (s)he's going away to school, if not to an Ivy, odds are to one of the Ivy equivalents (Amherst, Williams, Pomona, Stanford, MIT, U Chicago, Swarthmore, Wellesley, Bowdoin, Tufts, etc).

But really, without a better idea of the character you're trying to build/story you're trying to shape, there's not a whole lot of help I can give. As I said previously, there are some commonalities, but overall, the NY experience can be very, very different depending on a host of circumstances.