A Slice of Relaxed Life, Sandwiched by Parks
‘Blessedly Casual’ Riverside Park, shown near 114th Street, helps
By CLAIRE WILSON
Published: May 27, 2007
Once considered something of a “secret” among residential neighborhoods, Morningside Heights is experiencing a surge in popularity, particularly among young families lured by the spacious apartments, the parks, excellent private schools and access to transportation.
Anchored by the spires of the interdenominational Riverside Church to the north and the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine at the southeast corner, but dominated by the presence of Columbia, the 0.3-square-mile enclave is often described as laid-back.
A multiethnic community of 33,250, Morningside Heights is 53 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, a little over 14 percent Asian, and almost 14 percent African-American, according to census data.
While prices have gone up in Morningside Heights, it still offers good value compared with the rest of the Upper West Side, said Michael T. Stansfield, an associate broker with Bellmarc Realty. People who can’t afford the West 70s, 80s and 90s are migrating north, where “the same size apartment is going to be cheaper by $200,000 to $300,000, depending on what you’re looking for,” he said.
The 323-acre Riverside and the 30-acre Morningside Parks are a big reason that Duane Cranston, a lawyer, and his fiancée, Sara Holliday, an account manager for a graphic design firm, are looking forward to moving here. They expect the renovation of their two-bedroom co-op on West 111th Street to be completed in the next two or three months.
Among the public schools are three in the same building, nearby at 234 West 109th Street. One of those is Public School 165, the Robert E. Simon School, which teaches kindergarten through Grade 5. Among its fourth graders in 2006, 54.3 percent scored at or above grade level in English, versus 58.9 percent citywide. The math rating was 56.4 percent, versus 70.9 percent citywide.
Mott Hall II, at the same site, has a college preparatory curriculum for Grades 6 through 8. Of eighth graders, 79.6 percent met English standards, versus 36.6 percent citywide; 78.6 percent met math standards, versus 38.9 percent.
Commuters to Midtown can get the No. 1 local train at the 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway stop, then switch to the Nos. 2 and 3 express trains at 96th Street. The trip takes about 20 minutes. Bus routes include the Nos. 7, 11 and 104, which go north and south, and the No. 4, which goes to 110th Street, then heads east and down Fifth Avenue. The Nos. 100 and 101 travel 125th Street, and the No. 60 goes to Kennedy Airport.
Farms dominated what was called Vandewater Heights, after a local landowner, until 1818, when the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum opened between 116th and 120th Streets and started the influx of institutions. The asylum eventually moved to Westchester, and Columbia moved from Midtown to take over the site in 1897.