The Upper East Side: An Apologia

by AMANDA MELILLO · February 15, 2008

Upper East SideToday The New York Observer posted an article on their real estate blog titled "More Kids Dating Soho, Marrying the Upper East Side" about born-and-bred Upper East Siders moving back uptown to their home neighborhood after spending some time in the city's "grittier environs", as the writer calls it, so that they may--get this--get Soho, the Lower East Side, or Chelsea out of their system. (Note: I think only Upper East Siders refer to Soho, LES, or Chelsea as "gritty." You really HAVEN'T ever gone over the bridge, have you?)

I'll get the other deeply elitist and embarrassing point of the article out of the way now, which was not that these former downtown rebels were moving back between 59th and 96th so that they could outsource their parents' housekeepers and the family dog, because that's too cringe-worthy to even touch on for me. But rather that 86th Street is *gasp* that commercialized urban strip mall where "classes collide" in the "microcosm" of the Upper East Side. (Read: The four-way intersection around the subway that is less white than surrounding streets, due to those domestic workers coming from above 125th Street. Because really, who else will do your laundry and watch your kids while you sip lattes with the ladies who lunch?)

Yet someone must defend living on the Upper East Side while in your twenties, and right now that's going to be me. No, I was not raised there but rather in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and yes, I have lived in the UES slightly less than two months. I did know before moving in that it was not the "trendy" place to be for someone my age. But I do like the quiet and clean streets. I like that I don't live over the city's wildest bar or best club space. I was that person in college that lived in the quiet dorm, and liked having the option of leaving to go to the party dorms, yet not having to worry that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep when I came home. And that's sort of like what living in my neighborhood is like, except it has five Starbucks in less than a one-block radius from my apartment door.

It's not that living on the Lower East Side would feel like "waking up in the apartment I partied in the night before," which I'm still not sure I understand, because I'm pretty positive that if I partied too hard, I would have a pounding headache and be moaning my regrets regardless of where I woke up the next day. It's that as much as I like going out in the trendy West Village, there are some nights I just want to be lame and watch movies in my pajamas. And if I'm doing that, I don't want the sound to be drowned out by the people who are way cooler than I am drunkenly shouting in club lines below me to remind me that I'm wasting my youth just because I need to take a breather. I'm just waiting for them to catch the psychiatrist's butcher so that my area can go back to being boring.