Thursday, May 3, 2007

Op-Ed: Neighborhood Tales: Yorkville, Manhattan

Fire escapes in Yorkville. Photographed by Sam Lewis.

By Linh Tran

The Upper East Side has a secret hidden between East 59th Street, East 96th Street, Third Avenue and the East River—it’s called Yorkville. Yorkville is the less trendy, less polished, less expensive section of the Upper East Side.

The Upper East Side is not all Park Avenue penthouse apartments and expensive Madison Avenue boutiques. Beyond Lexington Avenue to the east, Yorkville boasts small thrift stores and antique shops, and the only area on the Upper East Side where you can find self-service laundromats.

I’ve lived in Yorkville for a little over a year in a small two-bedroom, railroad-style apartment two blocks away from the East River. At the end of the two blocks, right along the FDR, is John Jay Park. It’s a real gem and everything I think a park should be. It has a playground, an extensive network of slides and swings and a large fountain for kids, and the occasional college student, to run through in the summer heat. For me, the defining feature of the park has to be its large swimming pool. For a college student who can’t afford a gym membership, the free public pool in John Jay Park is a great resource.

If you head west after an afternoon in the park, you’ll hit York Avenue, a lovely two-way street running north and south that is dotted with cafes and bakeries. My favorite Saturday afternoon cafĂ© is Beannochio’s. The patrons reflect the type of residents of this section of the city—young couples, college students and lots of children.

Yorkville is a great place to wind down, especially after spending all day downtown. There are very few bars and clubs up here. It’s quiet and the streets are relatively vacant of drunken twenty something’s. The atmosphere is as laid back as New York City can get. In Yorkville, you feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, but not too far away from it.

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