Editor’s Note: As part of a regular West Side Rag series, artist Michelle Hill interviews and draws Upper West Siders. This is the thirteenth installment in our Portrait of a Neighbor series.
By Michelle Hill
Where were you born? Hartford, CT
Why did you move to the Upper West Side? Because I was fortunate to find a nice, inexpensive sublet in a brownstone on a quiet park block, West 89 St between CPW and Columbus – the Claremont Riding Academy was down the street, between Columbus and Amsterdam. I loved the horses, clip-clopping down the block. My first NYC apt was on the UES. A dump! I liked the UWS from the moment I moved here. Although, truth be told, I could have rented a parlor floor apt in a brownstone in Park Slope. That would have been nice, too.
What have you been doing here? Too broad a question! For more than 25 years I worked as a copywriter at a number of NYC advertising and direct marketing agencies, both on staff and freelance. For the time being, I am back to freelancing.
I’ve played guitar on and off since college, I started writing songs around 1991. I have played at many open mics and singer-songwriter showcases over the years at venues that have included Columbia University’s on-campus coffeehouse, the Postcrypt,
How long have you been on the Upper West Side? 33 years, more than half of my life.
What do you miss about the old Upper West Side? Its soul. Small businesses. Mom and pop stores. All those nice shops on Amsterdam between 78-79 Sts, e.g., Granny Made, where I bought my wife numerous gifts; Shakespeare Booksellers; Tom’s Pizzeria; low-rise buildings. PS 199 before it got crowded. H&H Bagels. Small movie theaters like the Regency, Cinema Studio, the old Thalia. The $3.50 breakfast special at the typical Greek coffee shop. The Penn Yards (where Riverside South is). The Allstate. Royale Bakery.
What do you love about the Upper West Side? Less than I used to love. But I still love Riverside Park. The Hudson River. Tree-lined brownstone blocks. Lincoln Center. A plethora of bright, talented neighbors, including lots of actors and actresses, musicians, dancers, singers, writers. The Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium, and their surroundings. Dogs, dogs, dogs! Excellent light at magic hour, especially in the late summer and fall.