Neighborhood Spotlight: The Neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan

The area of Manhattan above 96th Street has traditionally been considered Upper Manhattan. The diverse neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan each have their own character and feel, but all are ripe with history, culture, and amazing architecture, and they all hold a wide inventory of options for renters and potential buyers. Everything from cozy studios to triplex penthouses can be found Uptown, often for less than market value. All of these neighborhoods are well-served by public transit, and contrary to popular belief, the neighborhoods north of 96th Street actually have lower crime rates than Greenwich Village, Chelsea or Midtown. Here’s a rundown of some of the best neighborhoods for renters and buyers in Upper Manhattan.


455 Central Park West, Manhattan Valley. Photo credit: Sarah Javier

Manhattan Valley 

Located due north of the Upper West Side, adjacent to the northern border of Central Park, Manhattan Valley is one small neighborhood in upper Manhattan that has undergone a serious transformation in the last decade. Once a rather desolate and neglected area, Manhattan Valley is now bookended by luxury condos and dotted with trendy shops and eateries. This neighborhood is a great option for anyone who is in the market for a spacious condo and loves Central Park, but doesn’t want to pay Central Park West prices. The median sale price of units in the area is $1.8M, with an average cost of $1,527 per square foot.

riverside park

Riverside Park, Upper Manhattan. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Morningside Heights

Morningside Heights is directly north of Manhattan Valley, and west of Harlem. It has been referred to as the Academic Acropolis by some, because it sits on a high point in Manhattan, and is home to several prestigious academic institutions including Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music, and Barnard College. Other places of interest include the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine“Grant’s Tomb”,  Morningside Park, and scenic Riverside Park. The average price per square foot in Morningside Heights is $1,119.


A mural in East Harlem. Photo courtesy of Ephemeral New York

East Harlem

East Harlem is another neighborhood that has seen a significant wave of new residential development in the last decade that has brought with it a crop of fine dining establishments, wine bars, boutiques, and cafes. East Harlem also has some of the best schools in Upper Manhattan, and the influx of families to the area continues to spur residential development.


The World Famous Apollo Theater, Harlem. Photo courtesy of the Epoch Times

Harlem and Sugar Hill

Harlem has long been one of the most vibrant and culturally rich neighborhoods in the city. This sprawling neighborhood is home to a wealth of eclectic and affordable options for renters and buyers. Greater Harlem stretches across the width of Manhattan, and extends roughly from 97th Street to 155th Street. On its streets upscale eateries, boutiques, and cafes rub elbows with bodegas, botanicas, the odd jazz club, and hole in the wall restaurants that have been there for decades. The last 1o years have seen a significant rise in residential development in the area, and while this historically African-American community has become more diverse in recent years, Harlem businesses and residents continue to appreciate and celebrate proudly the heritage and contributions of the African Diaspora. Music and art seem to always be just around the corner in Harlem, and the area enjoys a thriving nightlife. Harlem is also the location of a number of culturally significant landmarks and institutions, including the Apollo TheaterMinton’s Play House, and the National Jazz Museum, as well as Harlem mainstay Sylvia’s.


A row of townhouses in Sugar Hill. Photo courtesy of New York Times

Historic Sugar Hill is a charming little neighborhood that runs roughly from 145th Street to 155th Street in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem, and was once home to many of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance. The area’s Victorian architecture, amazing vistas, affordability, and sense of community have fueled a resurgence of interest in Sugar Hill, particularly among international buyers. The area is almost completely residential, and you will find not only stately row houses and townhouses, but also a varied selection of prewar co-ops available. Many of the townhouses measure over 4,000 square feet with a price per square foot of around $800.


Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge. Photo courtesy of Rutgers University

Washington Heights and Inwood

Situated between the Harlem River and the Hudson River, Washington Heights is known for its vibrant Dominican community, profusion of green spaces and river views, low crime rate, and spacious living quarters at affordable prices. The average price per square foot is $639. Art and history buffs will also find a lot to love, as The Cloisters and the Morris-Jumel Mansion (the oldest house on the island of Manhattan) can also be found in the Heights.


Inwood Park. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

Inwood is located above Washington Heights on the northern tip of Manhattan, and is bounded by the Harlem and Hudson Rivers to the west and the east and Fort Tryon Park in the south. At an average of $518 per square foot, the neighborhood is highly affordable. Parts of Inwood have a secluded, almost suburban feel, and Inwood Park, with its caves, landscapes untouched by time, and sparkling expansive views of the Hudson, is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of Midtown.

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