Photo tour of the Upper East Side in New York City

Explore the charms of this New York neighborhood, which include landmarks in Central Park and museums like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in our photo tour of the area.

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Tourists and locals alike spend afternoons strolling down Museum Mile, home to nine world-class museums (including the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) in one history-packed strip. Each summer, those institutions open their doors for free during the Museum Mile Festival. Fifth Ave from 82nd St to 105th St

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Although they hail from Massachusetts, longtime friends Janis Friedman and Geraldine Di Savino, both 83, travel to the Upper East Side every few weeks to see Di Sivano’s daughter. They attribute their love for the neighborhood to its concentration of top museums, shops and restaurants. On this trip, the duo planned to visit the Whitney Museum, followed by brunch at JoJo and some window shopping.

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Posing outside the Park Avenue Synagogue on her way home from church, Tatiana Pavlova embodies Upper East Side chicness in her Carolina Herrera ensemble with vintage accessories.

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s iconic spiral building, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was a labor of love: It took nearly 16 years for the museum to open, from conception to completion. When the edifice finally debuted in 1959, its unique design proved controversial among architecture critics and artists, but it has since become a landmark. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave at 89th St (212-423-3500,

  • Built in 1862, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is home to diverse wildlife and breathtaking skyline views. Powerful Upper East Side residents have been known to make a habit of jogging around the 1.58-mile loop, including the former first lady (for whom the reservoir was renamed in 1994) and President Bill Clinton. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, enter at Fifth Ave at 90th St (212-310-6600,

  • Millions of tourists flock to Bethesda Terrace every year to snap photos of the grand fountain and its picturesque surroundings, but it’s also a favorite among locals. Emma Stebbins, a New York sculptor, designed the neoclassical structure; her commission to work on the public space was the first received by a female artist in the city. Bethesda Fountain, midpark at 72nd St (212-310-6600,

  • There’s a reason that the iconic Carlyle Hotel was called a “palace of secrets” in a 2000 New York Times article. Princess Diana, Mick Jagger and Frank Sinatra are among the powerful guests who’ve stayed there, and President John F. Kennedy was a regular. (Rumor has it that JFK spent the night with Marilyn Monroe in his personal suite after she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to him at Madison Square Garden in 1962.) The Carlyle, 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600,

  • Illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans is best known for the Madeline books, which he created, but he also worked as an artist for Vogue, Town & Country, and The New Yorker. The celebrated artist even lent his talents to the Carlyle: The walls of its Art Deco bar are covered with fanciful drawings of Central Park, which Bemelmans created in exchange for a year and half of free accommodations. Bemelmans Bar, 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600,

  • Guests at the Carlyle are still greeted by white-glove-clad elevator operators like Allen, who can recall the history of the famous building as he whisks you to your floor. The Carlyle, 35 E 76th St at Madison Ave (212-744-1600,

  • Subway Inn, the classic dive bar has been serving suds since 1937, but the decor seems stuck in the 1970s. Fortunately for thirsty patrons, the prices appear to be frozen in time as well—the average cost of a beer or well drink is just $5. Subway Inn, 143 E 60th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-223-8929)

  • The Roosevelt Island tram has transferred riders across the East River between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan since 1976. For the price of a regular subway ride, you can enjoy fabulous views as you travel with the locals who ride the tram each day, as well as dozens of tourists eager to relive a scene from the 2002 film Spider-Man. Roosevelt Island Tramway, 59th St at Second Ave (

  • There are plenty of Italian restaurants on the Upper East Side, but only one can boast a full indoor bocce court. Patrons have been rolling balls and sipping espressos under the same roof for more than four decades. Il Vagabondo, 351 E 62nd St between First and Second Aves (212-832-9221,

  • J.G. Melon has been serving burgers and drinks to the Upper East Side’s preppy set since 1972. With its kitschy watermelon-themed decor and pressed tin ceiling, the eatery has become a neighborhood institution. J.G. Melon, 1291 Third Ave at 74th St (212-650-1310)

  • Tourists and locals alike flock to the grand steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to sit, eat, talk and people-watch. Though the sprawling granite stairs are iconic today, they weren’t added to the museum’s edifice until 1975. Before that, guests entered via a steep, narrow staircase leading up to a green wooden structure known as the “Dog House.” Obviously, Blair Waldorf wouldn’t have approved. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710,

  • Located less than a block away from Central Park, 9 East 72nd Street is one precious piece of Upper East Side real estate. Architects Carrère and Hastings (who also designed the New York Public Library’s main building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue) erected the limestone megamansion in 1895 in their celebrated Beaux Arts style. After housing the Lycée Français de New York for many years, the building is once again a single-family home, making it one of the largest private residences in the city. 9 East 72nd St between Fifth and Madison Aves

  • Founded in 1923, upscale department store Barneys New York is a city institution; however, it didn’t become a neighborhood landmark until its massive storefront on Madison Avenue opened in 1993. Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave at 61st St (212-826-8900,

  • We spotted this colorfully dressed gentleman in Barneys, where he was scouting for new kicks while sporting a pair of attention-grabbing Stubbs & Wootton loafers. “When you’re smart enough to prove yourself, you can dress however you want,” he told us with a smile.

  • When J.P. Morgan donated the land at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 60th Street to build the majestic Metropolitan Club, he told architect and designer Stanford White to “build me a club fit for gentlemen.  Forget the expense.” Among the dudes that hung out here: Cornelius Vanderbilt, James Roosevelt (the uncle of Theodore) and banker Robert Goelet. The private social club continues to occupy the same grandiose space, but today it’s no longer only limited to men. The Metropolitan Club, 1 E 60th St between Fifth and Madison Aves (212-838-7400,

  • Upper East Siders soak up the sun on the lush lawns at Carl Schurz Park, which overlooks the East River and is also home to Gracie Mansion. Carl Schurz Park, E 86th St at East End Ave (212-459-4455,

  • Built in 1799, Gracie Mansion is the last of the elegant country homes once found along the East River in upper Manhattan. It served as a comfort station, an ice-cream stand and the original home of the Museum of the City of New York before it was designated as the official residence of the mayor. Bloomberg was the first in the office to turn down the residence since Fiorello La Guardia first moved into the mansion in 1942, but the space continues to be used for entertaining guests. Gracie Mansion, E 88th St at East End Ave (212-570-4751,

  • The Upper East Side was shot with a Lomo LC-A+ ($280), available at Lomography Gallery Store (41 West 8th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-529-4353,

  • The Upper East Side was shot with a Fisheye No. 2 ($75), available at Lomography Gallery Store (41 West 8th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-529-4353,

Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Tourists and locals alike spend afternoons strolling down Museum Mile, home to nine world-class museums (including the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) in one history-packed strip. Each summer, those institutions open their doors for free during the Museum Mile Festival. Fifth Ave from 82nd St to 105th St

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Few neighborhoods evoke the idea of classic New York quite like the Upper East Side. The district’s timeless architecture and posh sensibility have been featured in pop culture, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Gossip Girl, while its list of former residents includes plenty of prominent American families (among them the Vanderbilts, the Astors and the Kennedys). But even though the ’hood has held fast in the public mind as a stronghold of wealth and power, the story changes as you move farther east.

The area north of 59th Street largely consisted of rural landscapes until the 19th century, when Central Park opened and titans of industry built palatial residences to escape hoi polloi in lower Manhattan. Today, many of the opulent homes of that era still stand: The Woolworth Mansion, a townhouse on East 80th Street that was once owned by the eponymous retail magnate, is currently available to rent for a whopping $150,000 per month. These grand structures continue to serve as reminders of how the 1 percent lives.

But not everything in the neighborhood is old and stuffy: The Guggenheim (1071 Fifth Ave at 89th St; 212-423-3500, and the Whitney (945 Madison Ave at 75th St; 212-570-3600, routinely host boundary-pushing exhibits—check out Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective at the latter, on view through September 30. On Madison Avenue, edgy designers such as Proenza Schouler (822 Madison Ave between 68th and 69th Sts, 212-585-3200) have set up shop near preppy standards like Ralph Lauren (867 Madison Ave between 71st and 72nd Sts, 212-606-2100).

Beyond Lexington Avenue, you’ll find a different vibe altogether. Cheaper rents (one-bedrooms are less expensive than in the East Village and Murray Hill) have attracted young’uns to the area. It’s even becoming a nightlife destination, thanks to spots like new gastropub Penrose (1590 Second Ave between 82nd and 83rd Sts, 212-203-2751). Construction on the Second Avenue subway continues, with a projected completion date of 2016. Opening up access to the ’hood’s easternmost reaches is just one more step toward breaking its reputation as a rarefied playground for the wealthy, no matter how many mansions remain.