Somewhere between the green mountains surrounding the Queen city with Champ’s friendly wave and the hard steamy pavement, hustle and loud echoes of streets clamoring up the fire escape of the 5th floor walk-up in the upper east side, I realized I had no desire to return to Europe. Not never, just not right now…
The walk from my apartment on the Upper East side every morning to my “office” at the Starbucks on the corner of 80th and York was short but intense. The Upper East Side is considered to run from 59th street to 96th street, between Central Park and the East River. What used to be known as the “silk stocking district” is now just another place to live and work on these city streets.
Strange how hard I worked to get the bureaucratic permission and pay all the fees to operate my own business, trade license and even jump through all the legal hoops to live in Prague, finally getting the hard to obtain long term visa. Now that I have those things waiting for me at the Czech Embassy in Berlin, I have lost interest.
This part of New York came to its gentrification period during the late 1800s, Fifth, Madison, Park, Lexington, First, Second and Third Avenues were paved and wealthy New Yorkers flocked to the area, building grand mansions on these picturesque streets and avenues. Steel baron, Andrew Carnegie began construction of his mansion at 2 East 91st Street in 1898. It’s takes up nearly a half-block, bound by Fifth and Madison and 90th and 91st Streets. The Carnegie Corporation donated it to the Smithsonian and it’s now known as the National Design Museum. It contains over 250,000 design objects and serves as a world-class design library with year-long exhibitions.
Only the very wealthy could afford this kind of luxury then and the tradition still remains, with this area of Manhattan being home to people with more accumulated wealth than anywhere else in the world. There is some more affordable housing with studios, one-bedrooms and luxury apartment rentals, but high-end living dominates in this tony section of New York City. That’s where I am staying. My interests and aspirations tend to bring me downtown, near Union Square and to the East Village.