The Upper West Side is to griping as the Netherlands is to Olympic speed skating. We are simply the best at it, and we don’t even need to wear tight orange speed-skating uniforms to prove it.
The gripes sent in by West Side Rag readers as part of our ticket giveaway contest were truly exemplary — heartfelt, angry, sometimes peculiar. One person complained that “Most of my doormen are even stuck up.” Another noted that the Upper West Side is “where you live if you want to be a lonely spinster.” Other entries will resonate with readers, including gripes about businesses that don’t shovel their sidewalks and construction noise. These and several other issues readers have mentioned clearly need to be addressed.
Our judges struggled with the decision of whose gripe was the best. But we eventually agreed that the woman who wrote number 15 below, known only as SL, is the winner. She has been notified and will receive tickets to The Grand Budapest Hotel at Symphony Space. As one judge, Kenneth, noted about SL’s entry: “It was well thought out, not whiny, somewhat witty, embodied a universal gripe/lament of many UWS residents, used English and French properly and even employed an anapodoton of a French proverb correctly.” (Yes, I had to look up anapodoton too).
This was not a scientific survey and we’re sorry we couldn’t award all of you tickets. But know this, contestants: your gripes will be read far and wide by thousands of your neighbors. And having someone listen to your gripe is really the best gift of all, isn’t it?
1. I live on 93rd street between Columbus and Amsterdam. There has been noisy construction across the street from me for months 6 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. It would be one thing if I was suffering through this for a good outcome, but it is all for an ugly party city which is enough to ruin the block. I only feel worse for the people living in the building above it. There are also many things we could use, like a Trader Joes or a good Chinese restaurant. TS
2. My major gripe about the UWS is that it isn’t friendly for single 20 somethings and by saying it isn’t friendly I mean it’s where you live if you want to be a lonely spinster. The date locations are limited and the neighborhood is almost entirely made up of young married couples, families and senior citizens. When you tell someone that you live on the UWS and not in Murrary Hill, Chelsea or Stuytown it’s like wearing a scarlet letter of geographic undesirability. In my peers minds, the UWS is equivalent in distance to the Bronx or Westchester, come on UWS you don’t have to be the next epicenter for recent college grads, but be more fair to the unmarried folk. AK
3. Speaking with our waiter at a trendy new Lower East Side restaurant, we were asked if we lived nearby. Thinking Manhattan in its entirety is within range, I replied “yeah, Upper West” and was met with awe. The waiter followed, “Wow, how do you even get down here? Did you drive?”. Unfortunately, that’s not an isolated incident. When people hear “Upper West”, it’s as if you live up-state. It’s as though the B train that services Soho and Chelsea operates on a downtown loop. That 1 train that travels below the trendy streets of Tribeca and up through the West Village continues on past 14th street and beyond the Death Zone into the Upper West. JO
4. This was my first winter on the UWS and I was shocked how poorly the majority of businesses along Columbus Ave (60’s/70’s) shovel their sidewalks. Many businesses never bothered to shovel or salt, which resulted in a packed down path of ice/snow from people walking on it for days. Trying to walk to work was dangerous enough but when walking my two dogs while attempting to accommodate other dogs, strollers and commuters without slipping was treacherous. One of the worst culprits? Club Monaco. They’d shovel the sidewalk in front of their entrance only and ignore the sidewalk across the rest of their storefront. JM
5. Grocery shopping in the Upper West Side is the exact thing you do not want to do after working all day. Narrow aisles, confusing layouts, large strollers, and old ladies. These are some of the obstacles you need to navigate. If it wasn’t for the generally very competent and quick staff there would undoubtedly be riots and looting. Finally leaving the store, you think your frustrations are done, however the MTA usually has other things in mind. MPZ
6. Have you ever waited for a number 5 on Riverside? Half an hour is standard (in nice weather; for extreme conditions, or temperatures in excess of 90º, add another 20 minutes.) Then, when a bus finally appears, it is not a single, but like elephants in the circus trunk-to-tail, a parade of them moves down the Drive.
Infuriating? No more than the 25 minutes it often takes to progress from Broadway to Central Park West on the 86th Street crosstown. “Crosstown”??? 2 1/2 blocks are missing here for that word to apply, since the point of inception has re-located to a spot between Broadway and Amsterdam. KL
7. Driving in the city is challenging enough without delivery trucks parking in the middle of the street. I rarely drive because this is NYC, why would I? But, this morning I took out my boss’ car to deliver donated items to Goodwill on 79th. One expects the ubiquitous trucks camped out in front of Citarella and Fairway. However, moving trucks completely blocking side streets is ridiculous! On 79th street, there were 3 cars and a U-haul truck double and triple parked. I had to cross the center yellow line to go around. Please, people, do not park in the street! Drive around till you find a spot like the rest of us! CH
8. I live on West 72nd street and Columbus Avenue. I also own a home on Staten Island. I dread being in the city on the weekends because of Club 72 on West 72nd and Columbus. First of all, I don’t feel a late night club like that belongs in the midst of residential buildings. On an average Friday evening, at around 9 PM, latin loving music patrons start lining up on Columbus Ave. They are processed before entering club and this takes time, they also show up early and wait to enter premises.
They are noisy, rowdy and out of control, even before a night of drinking and dancing in the club. I have personally witnessed a few Fridays ago, a female exit a cab, find another female on the line and start beating the lights out of her. She ran to the front of line trying to cut line and ran back, pulling her hair and beating her again. She then ran to entrance and entered the building. This was happening at the exact time that 2 police officers were at entrance arresting a male club goer . He was giving bouncers a hard time and kept harassing them. This all happened on the same night before they entered the club, pre intoxicated! When patrons leave the club, I am woken up at 3AM. Traffic is crazy, with taxis beeping, police cars, screaming in the street. I have seen them urinating in doorways, screaming at each other. The next day, there is litter all over the street. I would rather stay in the burbs on weekends than to frequent the upper west side establishments, only to be awakened all evening! Btw the community board has done nothing to help this situation. SP
9. The three C’s to live by! Cooperation! Consideration! Compassion! To those UWsiders who park their cars on the street…aren’t we all in this TOGETHER??? Why is it all about you and your stupid hunk of metal?? Le’ts make room for everyone! Please do not re-park your vehicle and selfishly leave ¼ to ½ a car length in front of or behind you, seemingly “put out” when politely asked to make room for another car to fit on that block. If everyone tried to make room for one extra car per block, imagine how many more of us could park hassle-free! L. Rath
10. First I thought the strange shrieking was the wind. Then I realized it was changing slightly in tone and consistency of sound. After about half an hour of this non-stop high pitched noise I realized it was actually a singer. At sometime every evening this very loud person, perhaps with a good voice, but one very unwelcomed as a visitor in my apartment begins singing opera. Not a recording but a live person. I like music of almost every sort. Opera is so far down on my list of pleasant things to listen to it has fallen off the list. JS
11. Oh the Upper West Side. I love you and I hate you. We moved from the Lower East where so boyfriend could be closer to Westchester county, where he works. But why does everyone walk around like they are oh-so-entitled? Do you own that piece of pavement you are standing on? Are you more important or smarter than I am that you can’t bend? Are you more published than me that you can’t waver a pace or two while you strut your stuff? Cause you know people, with that attitude, you are all ugly, even the ‘good looking’ people. Most of my doormen are even stuck up. Only helping the ones who own condos rather than the ones who rent. The other night someone mumbled something to me because I was walking my dog in my pajama pants. Hell no, I moved out of the West Village along time ago to avoid that kinda crap!
Hail the Upper West Side, almost as bad as the Upper East! MS
12. At the top of my gripe list these days is the fact that no one takes responsibility for removing snow and ice from the 96th St. overpass on Riverside Drive. It is incredibly treacherous now and has been for weeks. I have complained to everyone and his/her second cousin about this (including Parks Department personnel and West Side Rag) to no apparent avail. After I began my complaint campaign several weeks ago, some good soul or souls made a woefully incomplete attempt to get at this problem but apparently, whoever it was, ran out of steam before completing the job after each of the last two big storms leaving about 20 or 30 feet of sidewalk untouched and with an inches thick sheet of ice thereon. EL
Editor’s note: We have an update on this gripe. After we contacted the Parks Department this week, we heard back from a spokesman that they were cleaning the overpass that day (this may have simply been a coincidence): “We currently have our crews working here and will continue throughout the weekend.”
13. Enough with the kitschy super markets! I cannot stand that the only options we have are either the insanely crowded TJ’s or Fairway. Every single time I go to TJ’s it looks like the food Apocalypse has hit and taken away every single normal food offering they have. Sometimes I don’t want to have a Himalayan coconut swirl sugar muffin or Joe Joe green curry jam pie (*names exaggerated) and just want some regular mixed greens and plain yogurt. Then, Fairway is so packed all the time. Answer me this magic eight ball: why does a store that size only have a small elevator to get people up to the second floor? Bring back the Food Emporium! N
14. I moved to the UWS from the noisy East Village and immediately appreciated the quiet. Lately, however, it seems the UWS is testing my allegiance. First, firefighters initiated a 30-hour battle against the Citibank fire by smashing every piece of glass in that building beginning at 5:30am. I suspect they may have brought some extra glass with them to smash just for fun–how could that smashing have gone on for that long otherwise? Then the plows repeatedly scraped over the metal plate covering a gaping hole in the road in front of said Citibank at 1:30am & 3:30am multiple nights in a row, sending my dog cowering ON TOP OF my head (and that hole in the road didn’t magically appear; we have jackhammers to thank for that). Last night jackhammers opening the sidewalk along Broadway continued to threaten our ability to get a good night’s sleep as they hammered on past 11pm. Will we ever see (hear) an end to this noisy construction? Maybe we’re doomed inexorably to sleepless nights–is Duane Reade conspiring with the Powers-That-Be to drum up demand for ZZZquil? KG
15. The more I see, the more I recall,
Marking the nabe’s decline and fall—
The mom-and-pops all now long past,
Even some “newbies” hardly last.
Let me sing a partial paean,
Praising every gone Korean;
And Shakespeare & Co, Endicott, Nick’s—
All now “late”—just name your picks.
Plus ça change, they say in France—
Toujours the same ol’ song and dance!
And since it’s truly a propos,
I ought to add, even though:
Now we can still vote a semi-yes
To something ever You Double-you Ess:
When it comes to our snow—
It’s always been the last to go!
16. I’ve lived here for 18 years, and have deep love for the neighborhood, but what DRIVES ME CRAZY is that there are NO GOOD RESTAURANTS! With few exceptions, it’s a culinary wasteland. How? Why? We have the best markets! We have discriminating palettes! While otherwise proud, I hang my head in shame on the subject. I’ll take the jabs and the jokes, and concede on this front alone. Because what we do have is special—the river, the parks, the wide avenues, the classic sixes, the sunset. It’s worth traveling downtown for dinner, but it’s even better to come home. KS
17. The 86th St. crosstown nearly always fills to capacity at it’s point of origin, since they don’t run frequently enough, and the Broadway bus, which used to go to the southern tip of the Island, now doesn’t even fully traverse the theater district. This gets an indignant “Harrumph!” I’d say. KL
The following gripes were sent to us previously, and were not included in the contest:
18. 77th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam, where private cars park on the sidewalk all the damn time! Including the Alamo and National rental car garage, and ESPECIALLY including the black SUVs with Official Firefighter’s Vehicle placards. So disrespectful and abusive. MH
19. Trinity school SUV, limousine and taxi traffic makes Columbus Avenue impassable every morning. The cops really ought to be out there ticketing. My public school kid was late to school today because of the Trinity problem. J
If you have a gripe, please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can include it in our next gripes post. And thanks again to everyone who entered.