SURPRISE: THE UPPER WEST SIDE HAS MORE ARTISTS THAN ANY OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD


An art show in the neighborhood a few years ago.

The Upper West Side has been gentrified, mall-ified, and lux-ified, but we’ve held onto one important distinction: we have more artists than any other neighborhood in the city. That’s according to a report in The Center for an Urban Future.

As of 2015, there were 5,584 artists living in the neighborhood, a 2.5% increase from 2000. (It would probably be more fair to count artists per capita, because the Upper West Side has a larger population than Bushwick, for instance. But nonetheless, we’ll gladly take the crown thank you very much.) Areas in Brooklyn and the Bronx have seen much larger growth in the number of artists than most parts of Manhattan.

The Center for an Urban Future notes that there are more artists living in the city than ever, but they’re having more difficulty finding space to work. It suggests allowing artists to use space in local schools.

Ten Neighborhoods with the Most Artists, 2015

1. Upper West Side (5,584)
2. Greenwich Village / Financial District (3,989)
3. Chelsea / Clinton / Midtown (3,711)
4. Upper East Side (3,049)
5. Williamsburg / Greenpoint (2,908)
6. Park Slope / Carroll Gardens (2,602)
7. Brooklyn Heights / Fort Greene (2,445)
8. Lower East Side / Chinatown (2,413)
9. Washington Heights / Inwood (1,995)
10. Astoria / Long Island City (1,919)

Ten Neighborhoods with the Largest Increase in Artists, 2000 to 2015

1. Bushwick (+1,674 / 1116%)
2. Williamsburg / Greenpoint (+1,248 / 75%)
3. Brooklyn Heights / Fort Greene (+899 / 58%)
4. Bedford Stuyvesant (+773 / 268%)
5. North Crown Heights / Prospect Heights (+680 / 114%)
6. Central Harlem (+653 / 216%)
7. Astoria / Long Island City (+552 / 40%)
8. Sunset Park (+550 / 124%)
9. Throgs Neck / Co-op City (+472 / 286%)
10. Park Slope / Carroll Gardens (+433 / 20%)

ART, NEWS | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Tom Lee says:

      With noise complaints doubling over five years and once-quiet neighborhoods offering little refuge, the city is considering a law to help quiet the din.

      • Stuart says:

        Maybe I am dense, but please explain how your comment relates to this article. Thanks.

    2. Peter Coley says:

      How bout featuring some upper west side artists in a series?

    3. Linda says:

      Artists love the UWS!

    4. GG says:

      Is this just visual artists like painters and such? Photographers?

      I’m sure if we added in the writers, actors, musicians, etc. we would still be at the top.

      I don’t know if people paint in a traditional way that much anymore. These days it’s more likely to be graphic design and is done on computers and such.

      Who identifies as an “artist” these days. Sounds a little pretentious to me. Sort of like calling yourself Dr. when you are really just a professor or a PhD.

      “Oh, I’m an artist”. In other words I’m a stay-at-home spouse or a kid who is being supported by their parents. Here’s an idea…get a real job! Sorry I was channeling my mother there for a second.:)hahaha

    5. LEE APT says:

      HOW WERE THEY COUNTED I AM ONE AND I DON’T REMEMBER ANYONE ASKING ME…

    6. Judy Kass says:

      Who qualifies as an artist? Someone who paints flowers on cardboard and sells their work on the street. Another person
      who sings (sometimes off key) hoping for a handout? A writer who self publishes their work and sells it anywhere?
      The definition of “artist” is too elastic. No one expects to find Picasso sitting in a garret painting masterpieces, but, hey! Let’s get specific. Does the “artist” have to make money, can they do it for fun? What are the criteria?

    7. Ken J. says:

      What’s the definition of an “artist” and how do they know where they live?

    8. JeffS. says:

      In all likelihood, the data derive from one or both of the following data bases:
      1. Census data.
      2. Self-identified data from tax returns. If you’re reporting income as an artist and taking deductions as an artists, then you’re probably an artist.

    9. Steven says:

      If you click through to the report and go to the bottom you will see that the data comes from the American Community Survey, which is done by the Census Bureau. A little further googling turns up the fact that the definition of “artist” in the ACS includes 11 different occupations: 1) actors, 2) announcers, 3) architects, 4) dancers and choreographers, 5) designers, 6) fine artists, art directors, and animators, 7) musicians, 8) other entertainers, 9) photographers, 10) producers and directors, 11) writers and authors. Presumably the data is based on how people self-identify their occupation on their census form.

    10. Wendy says:

      Me, too : having been put into too many Slums in N.Y.C., U.S.A.. A saying; how NOT to be a starving artist. I remember a guy painting outside in Hamilton Heights; a Woman painting sorta mid-town West; a guy painting near St. “Bart’s” on Park Ave….[P.S. Bless, Florence [a Woman], R.I.P.]. YES, much of N.Y.C. has become too NOISE polluted. “Oh, to be [back] on London, [England]” f’rinstance. [2 noisy guys near me, now; a photographer]. Homeless citizens rarely have the means to keep their art work – together. Save the good S.R.O.s..

      • GG says:

        I’m actually starting to dig this person’s writing and writing style. It’s sort of outsider art-ish. She’s like a female Bukowski or something. I don’t know. I’m getting used to it and I think there might be something brilliant and fascinating there.

        Anyone with me on this? I want to read Wendy’s novel. Can’t be worse than the Cormac McCarthy book I just read. She can have my $19.99 or whatever the MSRP is these days. If I was in publishing I would have it on the NY Times best sellers list in less than a year.:)

      • Mark says:

        Where does a homeless person put their artwork?

    11. Sean says:

      They must all be of a certain age and income level.

    12. Of course. We’re a very special neighborhood.

    13. Lyri Clark says:

      Gentrified, mallified, and luxified? I wish. Our neighborhood is filthy…it’s never looked worse. Overflowing rusty trash cans on Broadway from 70th st.for blocks uptown,broken newspaper bins full of garbage, and dirty dirty sidewalks. A sad homeless man took up residence in front of rite aid on Amsterdam and 70th. Surrounded by garbage and empty cans…I called 311 and they do nothing so I called 911 and they would only come if he was violent or dead…I had no idea if he was breathing so they said they would check. The stores near there said the police have their hands tied so nothing is ever done. How is it we have deteriorated so badly? Walk on the upper east side or the village and it looks great. Why are we the home of unwanted broken paper bins with doors hanging off? The broken window theory lives here…..who can fix this? Thanks.

      • GG says:

        Agreed, Lyri.

        I am over on the UES all the time and it is a night and day difference compared to our neighborhood.

        There is a fraction of the wandering mental patients, practically no dog poop on the streets, people actually clean in front of their business and homes, and so on and so on.

        I think the reasons are this: No SRO’s and homeless shelters over there. No public housing and services and the schools are mostly private. It’s all museums and embassies and fancy co-ops.

        People in general are more respectful and the police are actually on the beat and doing stuff. They have to over there, at least to keep up appearances for foreign dignitaries and the VIPs. On the UWS they don’t even do that anymore.

        I hate to admit it but if I was a renter I would probably be looking to make the move across the park. Oh well.

        • Lyri Clark says:

          GG: I totally agree; I think I’ll encourage the stores on Bway to clean up their sidewalks. They have no respect; let’s see how far I get. I already managed to get rid of long gone “learning annex” boxes on west end avenue. So we’ll see….

          • GG says:

            Keep up the good work, Lyri.

            I never understood those boxes all over the neighborhood with free circulars or newspapers, etc. They get filthy and half of them become garbage cans. Plus they are taking space on the sidewalks and providing no value whatsoever. I also remember someone here saying that one by his building was infested with rats and had essentially become a big rat co-op.:) could you imagine.

            I hope these companies are at least paying something to the city for the privilege of putting those eye sores all over the place. Probably just need to grease the right palms I bet.

    14. Gary says:

      So many artists up here, but are there any galleries? I honestly can’t think of any. Perhaps a few of the myriad empty store fronts cold be used as popup galleries until they’re rented to a bank or a large national chain.

      • GinaMae says:

        That’s a wonderful idea, Gary!

      • Julie says:

        I am loving all these comments. I’m an artist. I paint in the middle of my living room. I’m fortunate to have an apartment here and the idea of having a show in one of the empty stores is just great. I’d participate for sure.
        The sad thing is that so many of the artists have been driven out of the city, as they can’t afford to live here. One I’m referring has exhibited at MOMA.
        Three of the finest artists I know have moved upstate. The city has driven everyone away with its huge rent prices.