Photo of Larry Hirschhorn with his dog in Riverside Park.

By Eileen Katz

Larry Hirschhorn won the Tony Award for best musical as a Producer of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”. He’s produced other Broadway hits including “The Elephant Man”, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Hair” as well as the current musical based on the life and music of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, “On Your Feet!” But when the show’s over and the lights go dark the only place Larry wants to go is the one place he ever wants to call home, the Upper West Side.

Why the West side, Larry?

I’ve always been a fan of the Upper West Side. I lived in Brooklyn when I was a bachelor… a pioneer in Carroll Gardens! But I always said, when I move to Manhattan some day, the only place I really want to live is on the Upper West Side because whenever I would come up here, it felt like a small town. I loved the look of it. We are so lucky up here. We live on Riverside Drive and we have a gorgeous view of the river. We have Riverside Park as our backyard. I’m there everyday with my dog. Our kids grew up in the Hippo Playground. If we had had a zip line we could’ve just sent them down from the window and been like: “See ya! Come up if you need a snack!” I’ve been here since ’86 and loved every minute.

So 30 years up here! What are some of the changes you’ve seen over that time?

Less bookstores…I miss Shakespeare & Co. I miss Endicott. Although there’s a new one over there now on Columbus – Book Culture, which is really nice. So many of the Mom & Pop stores are gone…I hate all these banks! I really do. And all those Walgreens and Duane Reeds…how many drug stores does a neighborhood really need?!? And all those tall buildings by Lincoln Center…

What are some of the best parts about living up here?

The people! I just love the people up here. I feel like we’re all sort of in the same boat. There are a lot of artists, a lot of Jews, it’s got so much character! And there are 3 great subways and 2 great parks! I also love all the celebrities you see up here and nobody bothers them! At Zabar’s, I used to see Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson all the time. And I adored them. And I was so tempted to go up and say something but I said to myself: “No. Don’t do that. You’re an Upper West Sider. Just leave them alone. Don’t be like that.” And I felt better for not having bothered them. Oh, and you really see all the stars at the gym. I’ve seen Alec Baldwin there and so many others. It’s fun. Makes the hours at the gym go by just a little faster.

Perfect segue to the “boxers or briefs” portion of the program! “Central or Riverside?”

Oh Riverside! No contest! I mean we live on Riverside. It’s our backyard. I love Central Park. I love walking through it, especially in the Spring. It’s gorgeous. But right down my hill are all these trees with Cherry Blossoms. Beautiful! Why go to D.C.?

And I love the bike path. I take my bike and ride all the way up to The Little Red Lighthouse and back. It’s a great ride. I don’t like south as much though. It gets too congested by The Intrepid. Just north.

What are some of your favorite places to go in the neighborhood?

I love walking most days down to Columbus Circle. Some days I’ll take Broadway or Amsterdam then Columbus or through the park. I like to mix it up. I’ll stop, get a coffee. Try to avoid Levain at all costs (Larry is trying to be good. Please note he ordered a very healthy salad for his lunch during this interview). I love that walk. But the cookies at Bird Bath are sooo good too. So good. Our favorite restaurant is Gabriel’s, we go there all the time. Gabe is a friend. Our kids went to pre-school together. All the waiters know us and take such good care of us. Their butternut squash ravioli is the best. And of course, The Museum of Natural History, where my wife works! We are there all the time. We live in Murray’s. Zabar’s. I’m in there every other day. Can’t stand Fairway. Way too hard to navigate.

And speaking of Zabar’s, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one thing from Zabar’s what would it be?

That’s too hard! Wow. I would say their coffee, but I’d have nothing to make it with. That’s what I mainly buy there. I would have to go with the rugelach. Either cinnamon or chocolate. I don’t care. I’m not biased.

What do you like best about living up here in the winter versus the summer?

I love when you are walking around on a very cold day and you can smell the wood burning from people’s fireplaces. I love that smell. And in the summer I love all the outdoor cafes. It makes me feel like I’m in Europe! I love just having a drink and people-watching.

What’s the most quintessential Upper West Side experience you’ve had since living up here?

Do you remember when Christo and Jeanne-Claude had that exhibit of orange flags in Central Park? The Gates? I loved that. That was so cool and such a great thing to have in our neighborhood.

So you consider Central Park part of the Upper West Side?

It is technically part of the Upper West Side. Half of it at least! I would count it.

What makes someone an Upper West Sider?

It’s an attitude thing. I think it’s a little bit of chutzpah, mixed with the “I don’t take no BS” approach and a great sense of humor. They love love love food. And maybe just a little too easy to irritate. Everyone’s always kvetching a little bit about something.

And lastly, when “Larry Hirschhorn Day” is declared on the Upper West Side, describe the celebration.

Finally! I’d like everyone to come to Symphony Space theater and have a big review of my favorite theater songs being sung by my favorite stars. Anything Barbara Cook ever sang. She’s an Upper West Sider! Some of William Finn’s songs. So many more. Then everyone would go over to Carmine’s and drink and eat!

To read all of our “Why the West Side” columns, click here.

COLUMNS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Jane eland says:

      So happy to know someone like Larry lives up here! And yes, Levain cookies are crazy good but so are birdbath. How lucky we have both ?!? And just saw on your feet which was so much fun! Thanks larry!

    2. Jocelyn ettalep says:

      So glad to know we have someone like Larry in the neighborhood! Agree heartily on the Levain and birdbath cookies. Loved on your feet!

    3. jezbel says:

      Nice piece. Thank you. And thank you Larry Hirschhorn.

    4. Showlover says:

      Ahh, please bring back GGLAM on broadway, a dear bassoonist of mine (also upper west sider) subs in the show, and I saw the production 8 times, love love it.

    5. johnnyk says:

      Another fantastic post in this series. Seems like a great, down to earth guy. In other words, a fantastic Upper West Sider!

    6. adam says:

      Very nice piece, thank you! I always thought ALL of Central Park was on the west side, being east of 5th Ave.

    7. Carl says:

      “a lot of Jews”

      Again with the Jews…

      Out of all the people profiled since this series began, how many have been secular, leftist, White Jews? 90% or more? And of those, how many have specifically touted the Jewishness of the UWS?


      Also, everyone profiled that I can recall has been a celebrity or semi-celebrity-type. How about some ordinary, everyday, hard-working folk?

    8. Lois says:

      Cute dog