By Bob Tannenhauser
On November 12, we announced our second annual Thanksgiving contest, inviting readers to name what they are thankful for about the Upper West Side. Winners, we promised, would receive a selection of West Side Rag shirts and other items.
To enter, you had to fill out nine required categories: a local small business; a cultural venue or event; a public space or park; a restaurant; a market; a government agency or department; a charitable organization; what you like most about West Side Rag; and any other place, thing, or person you appreciate about the neighborhood.
We tabulated the results using our “Rag Choice Voting,” a system which assigned a score of five to the top choice in each category; three to the second-place choice; and one for the third-place choice. Then, we calculated the total number of points earned by each entrant.
The result: there was a tie! The winners, Robert L. and Deb H., have been notified and will be able to choose any three items from our West Side Rag Store. Congratulations to them and thanks to all who participated! If you didn’t win you can still support local journalism and order some Rag stocking stuffers at the store. Or click here and give a friend or loved one a subscription to the West Side Rag, which is free to you and to them.
While there were hundreds of answers to sort through, there were clearly several people, places, and things that are particularly treasured by locals. The top vote getter in the small business category was Magpie, an UWS gift shop that emphasizes locally and sustainably made goods. Zabar’s, perhaps the neighborhood’s most famous food store, ran a close second. Ivan Pharmacy, an independent on Columbus Avenue, and Book Culture, another independent with two UWS locations, deserve honorable mentions for sharing third place honors.
In the cultural venue or event category, Lincoln Center topped the charts, with the American Museum of Natural History following closely behind. Symphony Space took third place honors. Riverside Park edged out Central Park in the public space or park category, with West Side Community Garden a distant third.
In the restaurant category, there were many mentions, with Cafe Luxembourg topping the list. Second place was shared by Bar Bouloud, Bella Luna, Community Food & Juice, Ellington Café, Fred’s, Motorino & Thai 72. Third place honors went to Arte Café, Café Fiorello, Gennaro, Kouzan, Legend 72, Miriam, and Wau.
Trader Joe’s barely edged out Zabar’s in the market category, with West Side Market taking third place. In the government agency or department category, the Parks Department edged out the NYPD and FDNY, which took second and third place, respectively. The Department of Sanitation also received shoutouts.
In the charitable organization category, Housing Works and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) shared top honors, DOROT along with Goddard Riverside shared 2nd place, and Wild Bird Fund came in third place. Links have been provided in case you are inclined to support them on Giving Tuesday, which is November 28.
The next category was what you like best about West Side Rag. The winner was local news, followed by our weekly feature Openings and Closings, followed closely by the “community feel” which came in third.
The last category was open-ended: name any other person, place, or thing you like on the UWS. It yielded results that were difficult to tabulate, but in first place were “the people” of the UWS. Gale Brewer was in second place, followed by PS 87 elementary school on West 78th Street.
This last category prompted many interesting and uplifting responses, a welcome relief from the often snarky contributions to the Rag’s comments section. Here are a few:
“I really appreciate all the doormen up and down West End Avenue. They always bring a smile to my face as I walk by and are lovely with each person, child and pet that passes by.”
“…access to public transit, wide avenues, architecture. Appreciate it all!!!”
“I love the diversity of ideas and life styles, cultures, the fact that some folks have been here a long time and others just came, the vitality,”
“I love that I feel like I have a sense of community in a city with a gazillion people. But most of all, I love that I feel at home. Having lost that feeling, I don’t take it for granted.”
“Love the diversity and energy of the uws.”
“Most exciting things are within walking distance of each other”
“Preponderance of English bulldogs (and -doodle dogs), beautiful trees, and interesting neighbors”
“The creative spirit and warmth of its residents”
“Love the architecture, the old buildings give me a sense of history and security.”
“Well-summarized in the July 31, 2023 WSR article titled Monday Bulletin: ‘I Could Not Live This Life Anywhere Else’ “I will never leave UWS! My quality of life is too high here to do that.”
Bottom line: we found that the Upper West Siders we surveyed have a lot to be thankful for, and more in common than they might have thought.
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