Upper West Side History & Culture
While the first mansions were built on the Upper East Side a few years after the opening of Central Park in 1858, it took the Upper West Side longer to get going. (This was due largely to the fact that elevated train service wasn’t inaugurated until 1879.) When construction on the Dakota began in 1880, so the story goes, the developer embraced the ribbing that, given its remote location, it might as well be in the Dakota Territory. A construction boom followed, and the neighborhood today consists mostly of apartment buildings (on Broadway and the avenues) and rowhouses (on side streets) from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with some recent additions. Columbia University provides much of the vitality of the neighborhood’s northern reaches, while Lincoln Center and the American Museum of Natural History are the leading cultural institutions farther south.