History & Culture
The initial impetus for the development of the Upper East Side was the opening of Central Park in 1858, followed soon after, in the 1860s and 1870s, by the extension of streetcar lines northward. For much of the 19th century, the open railroad tracks along Park Avenue created a clear division, with the area between Park Avenue and the park being the “right” side, and a favorite neighborhood of Gilded Age millionaires. After the tracks were moved underground and Park Avenue opened, that social boundary largely disappeared — a pattern that would be repeated in the 1950s, when the Third Avenue El was demolished. For residents interested in art, few neighborhoods in the world can compete with the Upper East Side. Its Museum Mile (Fifth Avenue along the park) is home to the Met, the Frick Collection, and the Guggenheim, along with a number of smaller institutions.