A WRITER SHARES 1980’S UWS MEMORIES, AND ASKS FOR YOURS

Editor’s note: Lifelong Upper West Side resident Jeannine Jones  is writing her graduate thesis on how the neighborhood has changed since she was born in 1976. She shares some memories below, and asks for some of yours.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 12.42.38 PM
Photo of storefronts on Columbus Avenue between 82d and 83rd streets in 1982 by Daniel Weeks.

By Jeannine Jones

Today the Upper West Side is considered one of the richest, cleanest, and most expensive places to live in New York City. People have bidding wars over apartments that cost millions of dollars. The rental apartment upstairs from my mother, with the same layout was recently listed for $9900.00 a month. But in 1976, when my parents moved to Broadway and 79th street with their three small children, no one in Manhattan lived above 72nd street if they could avoid it. People were afraid to ride the graffiti-streaked, crime soaked subways. The sidewalks teemed with alcoholic homeless – Vietnam Vets haunted by their own nightmares and hopelessness. Locals knew to be inside their locked apartments by nightfall and you were safe. Neighborhood volunteers took turns watching out their windows, reporting any crimes to the well-meaning, over-worked and understaffed local police precinct. The doormen were alert and ready to menace unwelcome visitors with a baseball bat.

jennyonright

The author (at right) and her twin sister in 1986.

At the same time, community groups planted trees on every block and strove to make it all look nice. Several times a year the 79th Block Association shut down the street and organized a street fair. Residents sold their used household goods at White Elephant tables, others grilled hotdogs and popped popcorn. Local artists sold their wares and the kids tried not to kill themselves in the slightly deflated Moon Bounce.

I lived on 79th street from 1976 to 2011 in the rent-stabilized apartment I grew up in, and over that time I have seen the neighborhood change drastically. The streets of my childhood were dirtier, and the people who lived there were poorer but I played on the street all day unsupervised by adults and we were safe. Neighbors watched out for each other, and most of the people who lived there stayed for generations, and most of the stores were family-owned businesses.

Fast forward to 2013. Today the Upper West Side is cleaner with higher rents and upwardly mobile folk who seem to rent for a couple of years before buying big houses in Montclair or Maplewood. They don’t linger and they don’t talk to their neighbors or bother to know the names of the doormen in the lobby. If their children were found playing on the street unsupervised that would warrant a call to 311 or Child Protective Services. Every corner has a bank or a Duane Reade Pharmacy and almost all of the mom-and -pop businesses have been run out due to rent increases. I remember when Eeyore’s Children bookstore, around the corner from my apartment building, closed due to declining sales from competition with the newly opened Barnes and Noble megastore on 83rdand Broadway. Shakespeare and Co. followed suit a few years later due to the same pressure from Barnes and Noble.

jeanninetoday

The author this year with her daughter.

Are the changes to the neighborhood for the better or for the worse? One could argue either side, and that inspired me to write about it. I am currently working on my graduate school thesis and have decided to write about how the Upper West Side has changed in my lifetime. I am looking for long-time residents of the Upper West Side to answer some questions about how they think the neighborhood has changed and what they remember. I am also looking for people who have recently moved here and what prompted their decision to move to the neighborhood. If you are interested in answering a few questions email me at: jeannine.j@gmail.com.

Also – if you remember what year the Woolworth’s on 79th and Broadway closed let me know. I have been unable to confirm the closing date in my research. What other stores or restaurants have closed that you miss?

For more photos of UWS storefronts in 1982, click here. To read a similar account of growing up in the 30’s and 40’s, click here.

COLUMNS, HISTORY | 65 comments | permalink
    1. Historian says:

      If you are a graduate student, you should know how to check municipal records for closing dates of stores. If you want anecdotes, that’s one thing; I’m happy to provide them. But not to know when a store closed? You don’t even need to go to municipal archives. What about doing a simple Lexis-Nexis search?
      – A fellow life-long UWSer and Harvard doctoral student

      • Mike Miller says:

        You should know to never start a sentence with but. Is that what a Harvard education gets you these days? Terrible, just terrible.

        • Kate S. says:

          Well, Mike Miller, I’d like to inform you that starting a sentence with a preposition (as “Historian” did) and splitting infinitives (as you did when you said “to never start”) are both accepted by some of the widely used style manuals. if you’re going to criticize Historian, maybe it would be for being snarky. but that would be the pot calling the kettle black. so i guess we are 3 black kettles since i am being pretty snarky, too.

    2. Janet Maceda says:

      I lived on the UWS from 1972-1994: 85/WEA, 79/Columbus, 82/Amsterdam, several other addresses. I frankly don’t recognize this overheated characterization of the 1970s-80s neighborhood. As first Columbus Avenue, then Broadway, and finally Amsterdam Avenue began to gentrify we were gratified to witness a steadily improving quality of life, but sidewalks “teem[ing] with alcoholic homeless” and “residents knew to be inside their locked apartments by nightfall”? Please. Not how it was for me, my friends, and their families.

    3. Darren says:

      I’m pretty sure that Woolworth’s closed before 1990. There was also one above 100th Street that closed in the mid 90’s.

    4. denton says:

      @Janet, I agree. The whole thing about the ‘terrible 1970s’ (and even 1980s) is vastly over-rated. At least when talking about fairly genteel nabes as we are here.

    5. Judy Mester says:

      Grew up in Lincoln Towers in the 70s and 80s. I remember as a kids being able to walk and take buses alone and feeling very independent. I also went to IS 44 and was blessed with being part of the Lab School which was the vision of Mr. John Gatto. John was a amazing teacher and he taught me to love learning! We also went on amazing trips with him, including the Rocky Horror Picture show on Broadway.

      I also remember the food of the neighborhood . Where else could you get Spanish-Chinese food? Also, bagels at H & H! Let’s not forget about the orginal frozen cappuccinos on Columbus Avenue before Starbucks.

      The free outdoor summer concerts at Lincoln Center were wonderful.

    6. Spence Halperin says:

      I don’t think the email in the article works.

    7. Mark says:

      I don’t understand the folks who insist the 70s weren’t terrible. I live on 80th and Columbus, and 79th and Amsterdam was the most dangerous corner in the precinct.

      I worked from 1972-77 at various Cake Masters locations from 72nd Street to 99th Street. Working there I was held up at gun point at the 85th street location and the 99th street location.

      I was mugged the one time I walked from Broadway and 80th to Columbus and 80th because I crossed Amsterdam Ave. and went east on the block. I figured I was unemployed at the time, had nothing to be stolen. Silly me. I lost the gold watch my father gave me for my college graduation.

      There was a reason Verdi park was called Needle Park. Outside the Apthorp there were streetwalking prostitutes.

      When I moved to West 83rd Street, pushers hid their crack vials in the planters outside the building I lived in.

      Homeless? When the mental institutions disgorged their populations, the UWS got more than our share. And there were a great deal of elderly poor people — many of them the refugees who fled Europe after WW2 – who wound up on the streets with shopping wagons filled with stuff after losing their apartments for whatever reasons that happened.

      I don’t know what UWS Janet and Denton lived on, but it was dirty, dangerous and scary. And it was where I chose to live when I moved to Manhattan from Canarsie in 1972. It’s the only nabe I’ve lived in in Manhattan. I always saw it as culturally vital and architecturally beautiful.

      While I do not mourn the nabe of the 70s, and I miss the more diverse neighborhood, the mom-and-pop stores, the real neighborhood feeling that has changed.

      The business I miss? The Continental Baths!!! The Wildwood. The Nickel Bar — all the pre-AIDS era gay bars that made the UWS a gay mecca to rival the Village, and that drew lots of interracial couples to move in and renovate buildings.

      And Big Nicks. And Silk Road. And The House of Games. And the bakery that was on 72nd between B’way and West End. And The New Yorker theater. So many more…

      I’ve lived as far north as 110th street and as south at 80th. Now I’m in the 90s.

      • david zelman says:

        The bakery was Royale, there were others as well, Eclair, and Blooms.
        No one rememers Charevari, they had a couple of stores, Al buen gusto, Merit Farms, Columbia Savings bank, El Farro, Columbia Savings, the lending library and card shop that is now Giacommo’s, Gristedies, Barton’s Candy Store, the movie theater on B’way between 72-73. Ernies, and the best pizza parlor in the city, Vinny’s on Amsterdam between 73 and 74th. Where Fairway is there was D’Agostino’s, and a really good drug store, was it buy right or love’s? a kosher restauran Joseph’s, that’s just a few.

        • webot says:

          Of course we remember Charivari. the very chic chain that only was located on the UWS.

          I also like to point it out when kvetchers say the area is too fancy now. loved chariivari but those prices! they had good sales.

          Remember Winnefred Frocks on bway in the 70s. never went in but loved that name… was there til the 80s…

          • S says:

            I was just talking about Winnifred Frocks yesterday!

            Also never went in but loved the name!

            • webot says:

              🙂

              As an 80s kid, the name cracked me up, it sounded so dated, and even then I could see they where from another time, and I appreciated that.

              They had a great neon sign – I think.

              any photos of Winnefred Frocks?

        • Harriet says:

          The drug store on 74th and Broadway was Ritob. The owner was bought out by the Love Store chain, then the pharmacist went to work at a Duane Reade. I lost touch with them (Joe, the owner, and Mark the pharmacist) about 4-5 years ago.

        • Ory says:

          I remember Charivari well. They had several boutiques and I spent a lot of dough there over the years, The folded in the early 90s I think…

        • Vinnys! My wife and I had our first date there back in 85.

      • Jeannine says:

        i would love to hear some more stories. Email me if you want to answer some. jeannine.j@gmail.com

    8. Anthea says:

      I moved onto W. 71st Street, from W. 113th St. in 1968, so I could walk to the NY State Theatre, where I was a singer with the NYC Opera. Yes, Jeannine, there have been major changes in the neighborhood – mostly for the better – but, alas, I truly miss some of the stores that have fallen by the wayside. Long gone is the divine Eclair Bakery on W. 72nd St. and the Royale. Two of my favorite restaurants, The All State Cafe, also, on w. 72nd and Niko’s at 76th & Broadway were, sadly, priced out of existence. I well remember when the wrecking ball destroyed the beautiful and historic Episcopal Church on W. 71st Street at the corner of Broadway. About fifty of us stood across the street and watched, as though we were attending a wake.
      On the positive side, however, W. 71st St is much safer since the church was torn down and replaced by a high rise apartment building, complete with doorman. (The church had become a hangout for drug addicts.) I never felt unsafe in this neighborhood, however. I walked home alone from Lincoln Center many, many times – and still do – without being bothered. At the same time, 86th & Amsterdam was notorious for being crime ridden. – New York, in general became much safer when Rudy Guilliani became mayor, and even more so under Mayor Bloomberg. (I hope this continues . . .) On the other hand, nowadays, I stay away from the South West corner of W. 71st Street in the late afternoon, as rowdy teenagers hang around the corner in front of MacDonald’s and create a nuisance. (There have been times when police had to be called around 3:30 PM.) – I well remember the Woolworths on Amsterdam, but am at a loss to recall just when it was demolished. Perhaps someone at the Synagogue would know as I believe it was about the same time the Synagogue was built (Prior to 1978.) My building is very family oriented. Sadly, the older residents are slowly dying off and being replaced by younger couples who only stay two or three years. This has always been a congenial neighborhood.

      • Scooter Stan says:

        Re: “I stay away from the South West corner of W. 71st Street … as rowdy teenagers hang around …in front of MacDonald’s and create a nuisance.”

        Think about it. Those “rowdy” kids are just young high school students who have just finished a full day of “behaving properly” in a boring, tedious, and often frustrating environment where their every move is monitored by unsmiling adults at least 10 or 20 years older (if not more) and most often NOT people of color like themselves.

        So they are finally free of their daily captors and, like all kids, act out without thinking of who or what is around. They are socializing, flirting, establishing their ‘creds’ in a nice middle-class neighborhood BEFORE they have to get on that subway once again and go home to a neighborhood which may or may not be as sparkly-shiny as the UWS and, for anyone between 12 and 25, very possibly gang-ridden and dangerous.

        — a retired 31-year veteran NYC high school teacher

        • Mike Miller says:

          Where do you come up with this stuff?

        • Michael Scully says:

          Hey, Scooter Stan, they are often a pain in the neck. Life is rough on everyone. Maybe before you retired you might have offered a no-credit seminar on at-large behavior and minding one’s own business. I live on W 71 myself.

    9. Jeff says:

      Not a longtime UWS resident (only two years) but I would warn the author against making what appear to be major overstatements.

      For example, claiming that people don’t talk with their neighbors seems like little more than an assumption – I’m actually friends with several people in my building, to say nothing of those I merely talk with now and then. Also, there are many Duane Reades and banks, but the claim that almost every mom-and-pop business has been shuttered is simply false. I live on 72nd and would guess off the top of my head that it contains around 50 small businesses just between Columbus & West End.

      • Beth says:

        I would agree that the author should be careful not to stereotype “new” residents as unfriendly and uninterested in the neighborhood. I’ve lived on the UWS for twenty five years now, and when we moved into our current place a few years back, it was the long-term residents who were the most unfriendly, and one who was just downright hostile!! People make the mistaken assumption that if you are new to a building and have children that means you are new to the UWS and probably a neo-con, yuppie, Wall Street-type, which isn’t always the case. I would recommend the author talk to some parents at the local schools to get a sense for the community now.

      • robin says:

        I moved up here in 1977. The UWS was terrible then. The streets were full of prostitutes and Johns cruising for them. You couldn’t walk down my side street without seeing at least one car window smashed. My car was broken into 3 times in my first year here. My building paid for our own doorman out of our own pockets to try to secure our building. The SROS were filled with mentally ill people.

        Today: About 90% of the mom and pop stores on Broadway between 91st and 85th St. have closed. No more butcher, fish store, local drugstore, bakery, candy store, DVD rentals. All the small stores have had to vacate once their leases were up and the rents were jacked up to unaffordable rents. Broadway has become one huge outdoor mall.

    10. jeannine says:

      I love all the varying opinions and experiences. This is exactly what I am looking for. Not everyone’s experience is like mine. To the commenters…email me if you would like to answer a few questions for the thesis.

    11. westsideMoms says:

      more proof that you don’t have to be that old to look back on the past with rose colored glasses. I think its just human nature. I bet your cute daughter will look back at this decade as the magical Upper West Side, like you remember.

      For an interesting look at our neighborhood,check out the Goodbye Girl on netflix. Neil Simon movie and yes a movie, but does show the charm and grit of the 70s.
      There is a scene played for laughs where Marsha Mason gets mugged in broad daylight on a tawdry looking Columbus Avenue – yes a a movie, but it was absolutely blamable at the time.

    12. Dennis Regan says:

      I remember when only the neighbors came out to see the Thanksgiving parade. Now it’s a zoo. I’ve ben on 76th since 1978. Things change. It was a rich neighborhood at the turn of the last century and it has gone back to that. The circle of progress.

    13. Betsy says:

      There’s a NY Times article published on June 8, 1979 call “Discovering the Pleasures of Columbus Avenue” Published a couple of months before I moved to Columbus and 74th… where I am now. Worth a read. Here’s the first paragraph.
      -CALL it what you wish–neighborhood rebirth, urban renaissance, the latest emergence of city chic–but whatever you call it be sure to label it Columbus Avenue, the new Columbus Avenue.

    14. Harriet says:

      Memories of the “old days.” My first date with my husband was in November 1984, at Teacher’s, on Broadway in the mid-80’s. (I had mussels, he had short ribs). My second date with him was at The Copper (?)Lantern (78th and Amsterdam, where Planet Sushi is now). After my second date, I knew I was going to marry him. He lived on 75th Bet. Broadway and West End. Over 25 years, we lived in 3 apartments, none more than 4 blocks from Fairway.

    15. Harriet says:

      Opps…I meant November 1983

    16. Lauren says:

      Some memories:
      I was 14 in 1977 and went to see laser rock at the planetarium with a girlfriend. When we came outside onto west 81 street the person who was supposed to meet us and take us home had not shown up. We were absolutely terrified. There were prostitutes and drug dealers on the street. I am still amazed thinking how that now-pristine block was so different. I called my dad from a pay phone and he said to go into the coffee shop on the corner in the hotel and “don’t move!
      There was a pastry cafe with tables up in a little loft where the swatch store is now on 72 and Columbus.
      Zabars was open until midnight.
      Amazing roast chicken at Amsterdams.
      Yellow Rose of Texas.
      West Side Story restaurant on 95th
      Les Routiers on 89th
      And the biggest, most heartbreaking loss – la fortuna, hangout of John and yoko.

    17. auws82 says:

      The UWS is a friendly neighborhood if you get out there and meet people. I love being able to walk to Central Park and be greeted by many people I have met over the years. This article is so one-side. Yes there was plenty of crime in the 80’s, and the neighborhood has gone through change (for the better). Unfortunately, mom and pop stores have closed. But this is the case in most major cities going through development and change. The reason I love my neighborhood is I can walk up my street and say hello to my neighbors. People know me from getting out, and introducing myself, instead of planting my face in my smartphone. I am offended by the tone in this article. Not all of us move here for a few years. I have lived on the UWS side (I rent) and I have no plans of moving to a big house in the burbs. Sounds like Jeannine should take that route.

    18. Aaron Finkel says:

      I also take issue with your line that says “no one in Manhattan lived above 72nd street if they could avoid it.” I was born in 1963 and my parents moved to CPW and 92nd street a couple of years later. It was hardly an area to avoid. My friends lived in the 90s on Columbus and we used to skateboard and hang out all the time. Sure there were some muggings (mostly stealing our bus passes) but nothing serious. You make it sound like the wild west which it was not. I went to PS 84 and IS44 (before there were flea markets and before there was a Benetton on every corner). We used to go to and from school on our own. We also went to the park alone which kids nowadays hardly ever do.

    19. dcortex says:

      I too went to PS 166 and JHS 44 and remember John Gatto, despite graduating in the 60’s – Just wanted to drop some UWS names from then: Pick & Pay 87th and B’way- TipToe Inn – Davega Sports – Herman’s Toys- and Sam Graham Hardware – Mitchell’s Wines & Spirits – Lichtman Pastries or Cake Masters were the places surrounding the Belnord Apts. I grew up in. Don’t really remember the scary place others have described on UWS- but Central Park and the Subway were indeed scary parts of New York in those times.

      • johnpressman says:

        I lived at 219 W 81st (corner of Broadway) from 1962 to 1967, when we moved to Queens because the neighborhood was becoming too dangerous! Attended PS 9 and JHS 44.

        I remember The Broadway Nut Shop, outside of which I shook hands with Bobby Kennedy while he was campaigning for Abe Beame in 1965, Steinberg’s Dairy Restaurant, next to Irving’s Candy store, the Pizza parlor and Serooties? the bar next to them. Also The Golden Pan restaurant, Levy Bros Stationers, Universal Health Center, the New Yorker Theater and, upstairs, the New Yorker Bookshop.

    20. John says:

      Lifelong UWS’er, born 1970 and raised on 81st between CPW and Columbus. A couple of additions (please forgive any repetitions from other comments — I haven’t read every single one.)

      1) Frusen Glädjé. Pretty good ice cream place in the early 80s. I think my brother got his first ever job scooping ice cream there. There was a very nice gelato place in the late 1980s, but its name eludes me.

      2) Endicott Book Store. This was my dad’s favorite hangout, as they were a rival of Rizzoli’s in art books and such. Located on Columbus b/n 81 and 82, it was beautiful inside (lots of wood), and I recall when it died out, roughly at same time of a branch of Shakespeare & Company on 81st and B’way, once the Barnes and Nobles opened (at 82nd), which of course still remains.

      3) Back in the 80s, H & H Bagels (well known demise some years ago) had lines out the door, and nicer prices for their delicious bagels. I loved that they were open 24 hrs.

      4) Someone else mentioned it, but I’ll second a nod to Teachers and Teachers, Too. Delicious, homey.

      5) There was a little magazine stand on the west side of street around Columbus and 83 or 84 — was it called Johnny’s?

    21. Ted says:

      I came to NYC for the first time in 1979. On the first morning after I arrived I saw a man murdered in broad daylight in the Village. I was also hailed from second story windows in Times Square by topless prostitutes. Yes, it was a wild an wooly time. My current UWS apartment still has the footings in the floor where a Police Lock fit between the door and the floor. Not many of those in Kansas.

    22. Mercedes says:

      Apologies for coming to this conversation rather late but felt compelled to share my experience of the UWS. I was born and raised on same block, in same building since 1969. Of course I have lived elsewhere, including the Adirondacks (for college), the Catskills (for work with Goddard-Riverside Community Center residential summer camps) and Dallas, TX for work. Living outside the neighborhood & city in recent years, I admit, has allowed me a greater perspective on the losses the UWS has undergone. Last Spring, a year ago this month, I watched as a staple of the neighborhood closed, Food City. For me, this building represented a huge part of not only the neighborhood history, but of my own personal history as well. The building housed a playground on its roof, a respite for myself and many neighborhood kids. Food City was also where I dreamt of having my first jobs – first as bagger, then aspiring to cashier. I recall the Woolworth on 98th st, with its food counter and spinning stools, their comfy turquoise cushions and steel bases bolted to the checkered tile floor. I loved visiting the pet dept downstairs there and often dreamt of freeing all the fish and parakeets to Central Park down the block. I shopped at Red Apple Market on 100 st, which then became C Town and now is yet another bank. The neighborhood has lost many small businesses such as delis, bodegas, pizzerias, barber shops, candy & stationery stores. I remember Marcy’s deli on Broadway, the barbershop next door with its old -fashioned spinning stripe pole. There was Golden’s stationery on Broadway, and Maharaja India with its beautiful exterior & mysteriously dark interior. I remember Fowad with its racks on the corner of 96th st and a Mexican restaurant across the street with Spanish tile decorating its exterior. There was a really cool restaurant on NW corner of 94th st, whose name escapes me but the name was carved out of the building itself. I was even blessed to attend LaGuardia high school on 135th & Convent Avenue in its glorious Gothic, castle-like home before it moved to its prison-like building at Lincoln Center.
      One thing I have noticed of the UWS, which I find disturbing, is the influx of banks, financial storefront businesses and chain pharmacies on every street corner. This reminds me that the loan sharks and drug dealers never left the city, only they now dress in corporate suits and lobby for loopholes in D.C. instead of paying off morally corrupt citizens in dilapidated buildings. So much history of the Upper West Side, resided in the strengths and ideas of its working class citizens. The character of this area has changed dramatically as it has become an influx of new luxury and converted-to-luxury Mitchell-Lama buildings, over-priced coffee franchises and domestic employees. Of course, I want to see my beloved neighborhood grow & flourish but why is there such a strong need to push out the very people, shops, & community that created the desirable neighborhood it became? Why should people be made to feel uncomfortable/unwelcome in a neighborhood they created over decades, with their hard work & fortitude? I see this constantly in the rude & dismissive behavior of folks on the street, in the new stores, especially towards the older folks. I love that my beloved UWS is a desirable place to live but NOT at the expense of those who came before, struggled, survived and created this complicated, beautiful neighborhood. Thanks for posting this article.

    23. Deborah Sutherland says:

      Hello. A least some or all of my family lived on the Upper West Side from the 1930’s to the mid 1980’s. My father, and then my mother ran the Thalia Theatre from the 1930s to the 1970s, so I guess I would “qualify” as someone who know what the Upper West Side was like before 1976, when “no one would live above 72nd street if they could avoid it.” I remember way before Charivari when the drugstore was on the corner of 72nd and Columbus, across the street from Merit Farms. I remember Mindy’s and the Japanese store and Frances’s Hats and the Chinese Restaurant and Jay’s Stationary and Cake Masters and Eclairs and the Chess Room and the pet store between Columbus and Broadway on 72nd street. I remember The Jaunting Car Inn next to the Ritz’s deli between 71 and 70th on Columbus. I remember Gleasons, and O’Neal’sand the Flower Shop next to O’Neal’s. I remember turning the corner on 71st street one day coming back from PS 89 and discovering that my whole street (71st between Columbus and CPW) had been transformed so that Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand could perform a scene from The Way We Were. I remember the shoe repair shop between 71st and 72nd on Columbus, and Books, Pictures, and Things, and then Betsey Johnson replacing it. I remember The Red Baron and Food City and Victor’s Cafe…
      I also remember that the Upper West Side was a true neighborhood, and I remember the slow and then really fast “gentrification” of the neighborhood in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. So please…if you’re going to write something about this neighborhood that means so much to so many of us, please don’t generalize and please check your facts!

    24. Zach says:

      I worked at Sweet Asylum in the early ’80s and have tons of memories about the old neighborhood: everything from the charred remains of Santeria rituals on the big rock ACROSS from the 79th st. RSD playground to routinely getting mugged. Our parents let us run around unsupervised from the time we were like, 8 or 9. Huge packs of kids just playing in the park after school or even at lunch (with a letter you could leave 87 or 44 and go get a slice somewhere). I remember when the only Mexican restaurant anybody ever hear of was Taco Rico on 72nd. When I go back (my mom still lives in her rent control spot on 72nd and WEA) I have a real cognitive dissonance. I don’t recognize the neighborhood at all. What else. I won a Halloween story writing contest at Eeyore’s ($25 gift certificate) and was a delivery boy for Video Connection. The whole theater got kicked out of Lowes 84th on opening night for Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, it was so rowdy, but I’d been seeing movies there since it was the Lowes 83rd st, twin. Loved growing up there. Wish my kids could have a similar space to grow up, warts and all. It was bummy but it was awesome.

    25. Iris Rutkoski says:

      I live in my apartment at 102 West 85 since 1986 but I was born on West End Ave in 1947. I think the owner of Trio Dinner lived in my building – I thought it was called Joes?.
      I only have one photo taken on the street in the1970s but I do remember alot of the old stores. Good luck with your project and I would be happy to talk if you like.

    26. Karen G. says:

      Does anyone remember, like i do, the little grocery store on the corner of 74th and Amsterdam, owned by Dom?…wonderful man, full of stories and gossip about the neighborhood…when the subway fare went up in ’74 or ’75, he bought me a bag of tokens so that i wouldn’t have to stand in line at the 72nd St. station that Monday morning when it went into effect and everyone had been caught unaware…Dom always looked out for his customers…a real UWS personality.

    27. Danielle Ledesma says:

      I was born (1976) and raised on 92nd St. Btwn Broadway and West End and lived in the same apartment until I was 23 years old. I now live on the upper east side, but will always remain true to my roots–the West side is the best side! Back in the days prostitues freely roamed Broadway, drug addicts shot up in our basement, we’d look out our living room window And see prostitues making their deals. My building was surrounded by SRO’s; one on 92nd btwn Riverside and West End, one directly across the street from us and one on 92nd btwn Broadway and Amsterdam. Miss all of the mom and pop shops. Eeyore’s bookstore, Woolworths, Greens, Morris Bros, Mancy pharmacy, Kandela pizzeria, Leroy pharmacy, The Library restaurant up our block, the movie theater on 89th and bway, Anchor savings bank, H & H…so many memories it’s crazy. My grandparents used to call the UWS a slum and would never sleep over instead they’d sleep in a room at the Greystone on 91st and Bway–ha! I grew up
      Hanging out with kids from the projects as well as kids from riverside drive and Central Park west…was all one nice big mix. It all started at Goddard Riverside and then onto West Side Montessori. Those were the days. The hill going down to the park on West 91st. Learned how to ride my bike down there. I remember when the first Starbucks opened on 93rd and Broadway it was around 1996-1997 while I was in college–that’s when we knew that the UWS of our time was never going to be the same again.

    28. Judy Samuels says:

      The Cherry Restaurant on Columbus Ave. on the corner of 76th St., where the Chase Bank is now, was owned and staffed by Japanese people. The food was all American dishes, and I used to go there for dinner all the time.
      Some favorite places included Ruskay’s and Rouelles.
      There were great clothes stores also on Columbus on the same street, Parachute was one. Another one had South American clothes but the name has vanished from mind.
      There are so many more as I have lived here since the early 70s.

    29. Chris says:

      Great project…hope it went well or is going well. Very different West Side. Some similarities within 1970s and 2015 and much change….Miss Most: John Lennon and Yoko Ono walks and talks…Mick Jagger…Miles Davis..Bruce Willis–tending bar…Joan Allen–hostess at Shelter…bunch of artists, actors, musicians at The Only Child on West 79.

    30. Bill says:

      Does anyone remember a clothing store on Amsterdam Avenue around 75th Street that was huge, with floor-to-ceiling windows, that catered mainly to gay men back in the 1980s? I’m trying to write it into a book, and I cannot find anything about it anywhere. I know I’m not imagining it existed…

    31. Mental says:

      Upper West Sider here. Attended PS9 (I remembered a teacher who still smoked in class), and Brandeis. Raised on 104th. Every few years I will take my 20 block walk from my old apartment to 84th and Columbus. I miss the 88 Noodle House, Woolworths, and Sloans.

    32. Barbara Biirmingham says:

      Does anyone remember a small bakery/kitchen on West 83rd between Columbus and Amsterdam. Around 1973. She made awesome cookies with whole wheat flour. Tiny place, sweet lady from down south. I think it was Sylvi’s Kitchen but can’t remember. She was the only person that worked there and basically it was a counter that you ordered from and nothing more.

      • Chris says:

        Vague memory of the window and lady on 83rd Street. I think it and she was gone by 1975 or 76. East of Broadway was a tough old neighborhood. West of Broadway was less rough, but Broadway was Pay-A-Broadway after 9pm — as if there was city-approved zoning for street walkers after 9.

    33. jordan gunther says:

      woolworths was on the high 60’s on amsterdam just south of the jewish temple that is still there. the block just south of where mc donalds is.

    34. Terry Gaffney says:

      I lived on W 73rd b/ Columbus & CPW from 1974-1987 and saw SO many changes… the gentrification got to be too much, so I moved up to 108th Street. In the photo, the corner shop on 73rd was an upholstery shop, and aside from the (not so good) pizza shop, I can’t remember any other store on that side of the street as being memorable. I have lots of memories of specific shops, and just as many holes in my memory!… was racking my brain trying to come up with the name of the pub/restaurant on west side of Columbus b/ 70th & 71st when I came upon your posting.

      • Kate S. says:

        Funny that someone else just posted. I have been thinking about this since it was originally posted a couple of years ago. I don’t agree with the statement that no one went above 72nd if they could help it. That was true between broadway and central park west. However, it was still very nice and middle/ upper-middle class between broadway and riverside drive, at least up to about 90th street. I was born in 1965 and moved away in 1977 (returned later). the 90’s were considered pretty scary back then, but the 70s and 80s were lovely. Both RSD and CPW were iffy bcs you never knew who would come out of the park. But west end was great, and also 86th was great all the way over to the park. i graduated college in 1988 and came back to NYC, and i couldn’t believe that my friends that went to work in investment banking all lived in a new building (the westmont) at 96th and columbus. how times change!

    35. Joanie says:

      I’m coming into this conversation very late but I have lived in this neighborhood all my life….since 1953. I take issue with the notion that people tried to avoid living above 72nd street. I grew up on riverside drive at 104 street. My father was the first tenant of the building and moved in in 1929. It was a great neighborhood…but you had to know which blocks you should avoid! Columbia university kept the neighborhood more desirable.
      My high school boyfriend lived on 82nd and Broadway. And I briefly lived on 85 street in the early 70’s , so I was there a lot. I remember Zabars being a nice little store to buy deli and grocery items. Citerellas always had their fun fish display in the window. Columbus and Amsterdam avenues were to be avoided though we had to cross them to hang out in Central Park…mostly by the fountain.
      I do remember cake masters on 99 street, party cake on 110, teachers, the gold rail, the American restaurant on 85 & Broadway. Lecters was a tiny linen shop on the west side of Broadway owned my Mel Lecter’s parents till he inherited it and turned it into a yuppie’s dream shop! There is not a day that goes by when I don’t miss woolworths! Although, I usually shopped at the one on 109 street, I do remember the one on 79 street. There was also Lamstons on 102 street. Further back, in the 50’s and 60’s there was food-o-Rama, Daitch Shopwell, Nedicks, Orange Julius, and so many mom and pop shops. There were loads of movie theaters…two on one block between 96 & 97 street called Riverside and Riviera, and the Thalia, Symphony, Beacon (ALL local movie theaters), the Midtown, Loews 83rd street, the Edison, Nemo (both in the 100’s) and of course, the New Yorker! I miss them! My sister and I used to walk down the street and try to remember what was there before. It’s hard to keep up now, tho!
      I have lived on 111 street since 1975. I raised two daughters here. I am happy that they also identify with being true upper west siders!

    36. Lynda Paull says:

      I’m trying to jog my memory about a pastry cafe that always had recorded opera music playing and photos of opera singers on the walls I believe it was below 74th and above 66th and between Columbus and CPW. When? at least up until the 90’s.

      Lynda

    37. Louie says:

      Awesome to read all the comments and Tnx to all my neighbors for taking time to reminisce … West 72nd here from early 70s to 2012 … Forgot so many places but this jogged a great deal to share nostalgically with my family … I miss Eclaires, La Fortuna and laser rock of the early 80s and the many times I saw John and Yoko walking in the park as a kid .. Or the 72nd st Kung fu magazine store on the 2nd … Memories are all we ever truly have

    38. Barbara, that was “Sarabeth’s Kitchen” on Amsterdam between 82nd and 83rd. She opened a restaurant on Madison Ave and 84th a few years later.It might still be there. Sarabeth was a friend and I too loved her pastries and coffee. MacAlier’s Pub was across the avenue. My favorite dart bar in 1982.

    39. Does anyone remember the trendy bar in 1981-84 at the corner of 74th and Amsterdam? Was the place called “Amsterdam”. I can remember later that the same group opened another trendy bar call “Columbus”?

    40. Leslie Harrington says:

      Let me correct myself for “Sarabeth’s Kitchen” was between 79th and 80th Streets on Amsterdam across from Mac’s.

    41. cindyp says:

      Yes, it was called Amsterdam’s and it had great chicken, pork, beef cooked on a wall-sized rotisserie. I can just smell the place writing about it.

      I’m trying to remember the name of the bar/restaurant that opened in the late 70’s/1980 on the corner of 79th and Columbus with the funeral parlor next door (in the space where Laura Ashley once was located) and in the old building before the skyscraper apartment building went up.

      I lived on 82 btw Columbus and CPW from 1976-2011. I so miss living there and am trying to now come back from CT where I moved to be closer to Yale for medical purposes. When I come to NYC now, I stay in the Endicott (on Columb and 81, around the corner from my old apartment). I’m so please that Calle Ocho (once around the corner on Columbus) has become attached to the hotel; that Zingone’s , the terrific and friendly mom & pop grocery store on Columbus btw 82 & 83 is still in business and doing better than ever; that Rose Liquor still is thriving one block down with the flower shop next door now run by the daughter of the man I used to buy my flowers from, and that the newsstand at the corner of Columbus and 81 is till run by my friend from Pakistan, who used to call his family to find out when my eccentric English husband used to ask him “What’s the weather today in Karachi?” I still run into my neighbors on the street, and sure, a lot has changed, but the heart of the neighborhood and many of the characters are still there!

      I need a hot tip on a small apartment! Now that the doormen from CPW no longer drink at the bar at Pizzeria Uno on Columbus & 81 (which had a cubby hole in the unfinished end where we’d leave each other messages and little presents), that’s one thing that I’m finding difficult to nail in the neighborhood!

    42. cindyp says:

      Correction: Not the Endicott Hotel but the EXCELSIOR! I’m sure we all remember the coffee shop!