If the Time Square Theater District is the centerpiece of Manhattan, then Central Park South is its jewel. The stretch of 59th Street that connects Columbus Circle on the west side of Manhattan to 5th Avenue on the east, is home not only to the city’s most sought-after and quintessentially New York real estate, but also its most iconic park. Walking down that storied stretch of road, with its shining, stately residences on one side and the park on the other, it’s easy to forget that the surrounding neighborhood is not without magic of its own, especially during the holiday season when the windows are all dressed to the nines in preparation for international holiday shoppers. There’s plenty to see and do within quick walking distance of the small neighborhood known as Central Park South.
The Plaza Hotel
1 Central Park South
The ultimate in old-school decadence, The Plaza Hotel was the gold standard for luxury when it opened in 1907 and it remains so today. This imposing 21 story landmark is notable for its French chateau-style design and distinctive Mansard roof. Amenities include 5 star concierge service, maid service and just about everything you could ask for. Visit the lush Palm Court for breakfast, afternoon tea or evening cocktails, or check out The Plaza Food Hall in the basement for eclectic culinary samplings from around the city and the globe. Once you move in, you’ll technically never have to leave. Studio units start at approximately $1.4M and 4 bedroom condos sell for around $50M.
22 Central Park South
Standing almost unnoticed next to The Plaza, this charming renovation contains 7 floor-through luxury condos. Amenities include a rooftop terrace and 24-hour doorman. There is currently a two bedroom for sale at 22 Central Park South priced at $8.1M.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
50 Central Park South
The residences at the world-famous Ritz-Carlton occupy the top 12 floors of the hotel and range in size from 3,895 to 9,500 square feet with an average price per square foot of $8,105. There are currently 2 units available from $24.5 M. The Ritz-Carlton is also home to the ultra-chic Star Lounge. Stop in for light fare or afternoon tea but don’t forget to make a reservation.
160 Central Park South
Essex House might be the most recognizable of all of Central Park South’s distinctive pre-war hotels, due in large part to the sizable neon sign on its rooftop. A 2 bedroom condo in this majestic art deco building will run you anywhere between $4 million and close to $6 million, with an average price per square foot of just under $3,000. Amenities include a full-time doorman and concierge service, a fitness center and spa, and maid services. The inviting Southgate Bar and Restaurant is also located in the hotel and boasts expansive views of Central Park.
The Hampshire House
150 Central Park South
The Hampshire House coop contains 196 units and is distinguishable by its numerous white brick recesses and setbacks that appear to cascade upward to the building’s copper apex. There are currently 7 homes for sale in The Hampshire House, with one bedrooms starting at just under $1M and 2-3 Bedrooms in the $7M range.
Known as “The Most Expensive Street in the World” and a prime high-end shopping destination, the section of 5th Ave. which runs perpendicular to Central Park South is notable for its ritzy retail landmarks. Stop at Bergdorf Goodman for a touch of class, or Tiffany and Co. for a bit of nostalgia.
The Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St.
Located 6 blocks south of Central Park South, MOMA is home to some of the greatest pieces of modern art ever conceived. The sculptures of the visionary iconoclast Pablo Picasso will be on display through February 7.
881 7th Ave.
The legendary Carnegie Hall, located 2 blocks south of the park, is one of the world’s premier destinations for classical and contemporary music. Erected in 1891 by the ubiquitous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and designed by the architect William Burnet Tuthill, the hall presents about 250 performances annually.
New York City Center
405 W. 55th St.
Originally built in 1923 as a meeting hall for The Shriners, The Mecca Temple was saved from demolition to become the city’s principal venue for modern dance and theater. Located within walking distance of Central Park South, NYCC is home to The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (whose founder and namesake is widely credited with revolutionizing modern dance), in addition to a host of other dance and theater troupes. The building is notable for its Neo-Moorish architecture and idiosyncratic design.
Columbus Circle/Time Warner Center
A popular feature film locale and tourist destination, Columbus Circle sits on the south-western tip of Central Park. The Circle is one of the most heavily-trafficked and well-known hubs in the city, and features a statue of the guy who sailed the ocean blue in its center. The nearby Time Warner Center also doubles as an upscale shopping mall with food court.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858, and credited with spurring urban renewal initiatives across the country, Central Park’s naturalistic landscaping, complete with streams, caves, and clearings, provide grizzled New Yorkers with a respite from the rush, if only for an hour or two. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a long-time New Yorker who doesn’t have at least one indelible memory of Central Park (be it frightening or enlightening). The park is vast, extending as far north as West 110th Street and is known for the large variety of migrating birds it attracts during the spring and fall months. Park attractions near Grand Army Plaza (the official gateway to the park, located at the south-eastern corner), include The Pond (of Holden Caulfield fame) and Hallett Nature Sanctuary, as well as the Central Park Zoo. Explore offbeat modes of transport and take a horse-drawn carriage, hop in a petty cab or visit Central Park Bike Rentals for a tandem bike ride.
If that all sounds a bit exhausting, veteran Central Park South staple Sarabeth’s serves up fresh breakfast and brunch daily, and The Park Room Restaurant, located in The Park Lane Hotel, promises a fine dining experience with ceiling to floor views of the park. Visit Villagio On the Park or Marea for upscale Italian fare or sample the area’s “just fine” dining options: a Sabrett frank, roasted nuts or a cheese-filled pretzel.
If you’ve fallen in love with the neighborhood and you just can’t wait to move in, you’ll find yourself in rarefied company: P. Diddy and Lady Gaga are among the celebs who call the nabe home, and it is one of the priciest neighborhoods in Manhattan with recent price per square foot sales in the $3,400 range.