The Upper East Side, sometimes abbreviated UES, is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, between Central Park/Fifth Avenue, 59th Street, the East River, and 96th Street. The area incorporates several smaller neighborhoods, including Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, and Yorkville. Once known as the Silk Stocking District, it is now one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City.
Neighborhood boundaries in New York City are not officially set, but according to the Encyclopedia of New York City, the Upper East Side is bounded by 59th Street in the south, 96th Street on the north, Fifth Avenue to the west and the East River to the east. The AIA Guide to New York City extends the northern boundary to 106th Street near Fifth Avenue.
The area’s north-south avenues are Fifth, Madison, Park, Lexington, Third, Second, First, York, and East End Avenues, with the latter running only from East 79th Street to East 90th Street. The major east-west streets are 59th Street, 72nd Street, 79th Street, 86th Street and 96th Street.
Some real estate agents use the term “Upper East Side” instead of “East Harlem” to describe areas that are slightly north of 96th Street and near Fifth Avenue, in order to avoid associating these areas with the negative connotations of the latter, a neighborhood which is generally perceived as less prestigious.
For census purposes, the New York City government classifies the Upper East Side as part of two neighborhood tabulation areas: Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill-Yorkville and Lenox Hill-Roosevelt Island. Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the combined population of these areas was 219,920, an increase of 2,857 (1.3%) from the 217,063 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,291.51 acres (522.66 ha), the neighborhoods had a population density of 170.3 inhabitants per acre (109,000/sq mi; 42,100/km).
The racial makeup of the neighborhoods were 79% (173,711) White, 3.2% (7,098) African American, 0.1% (126) Native American, 8.6% (18,847) Asian, 0% (98) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (609) from other races, and 1.8% (3,868) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.1% (15,563) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 8, which comprises the Upper East Side, had 225,914 inhabitants as of NYC Health’s 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.9 years. This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are adults: a plurality (37%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 24% are between 45–64, and 20% are 65 or older. The ratio of youth and college-aged residents was lower, at 14% and 5% respectively.
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 8 was $123,894, though the median income in the Upper East Side individually was $131,492. In 2018, an estimated 7% of Upper East Side residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty-five residents (4%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 41% in the Upper East Side, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, the Upper East Side is considered to be high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.
As of the 2000 census, twenty-one percent of the population was foreign born; of this, 45.6% came from Europe, 29.5% from Asia, 16.2% from Latin America and 8.7% from other. The female-male ratio was very high with 125 females for 100 males. The Upper East Side contains a large and affluent Jewish population estimated at 56,000. Traditionally, the Upper East Side has been dominated by wealthy White Anglo-Saxon Protestant families.
Given its very high population density and per capita income ($85,081 in 2000), the neighborhood contains the greatest concentration of individual wealth in Manhattan. As of 2011, the median household income for the Upper East Side was $131,492. The Upper East Side maintains the highest pricing per square foot in the United States. A 2002 report cited the average cost per square meter as $8,856; however, that price has noticed a substantial jump, increasing to almost as much as $11,200 per square meter as of 2006. There are some buildings which cost about $125 per square foot (~$1345/㎡). The only public housing projects for those of low to moderate incomes on the Upper East Side are located just south of the neighborhood’s northern limit at 96th Street, the Holmes Towers and Isaacs Houses. It borders East Harlem, which has the highest concentration of public housing in the United States.
Politically, the Upper East Side is in New York’s 12th congressional district. It is in the New York State Senate’s 27th, 28th, and 29th districts, the New York State Assembly’s 73rd and 76th districts, and the New York City Council’s 4th and 5th districts.
The Upper East Side is one of few areas of Manhattan where Republicans constitute more than 20% of the electorate. In the southwestern part of the neighborhood, Republican voters equal Democratic voters (the only such area in Manhattan), whereas in the rest of the neighborhood Republicans make up between 20 and 40% of registered voters.
The Upper East Side is notable as a significant location of political fundraising in the United States. Four of the top five ZIP codes in the nation for political contributions are in Manhattan. The top ZIP Code, 10021, is on the Upper East Side and generated the most money for the 2004 presidential campaigns of both George W. Bush and John Kerry.