There is a pocket of the Upper East Side that floated blissfully under the radar for decades. Sure, it was home to city mayors and two beloved protagonists from children’s literature (Harriet the Spy and Lyle the Crocodile). But until recently, Yorkville remained relatively disconnected from the hustle and bustle. Thanks to a new subway line and a ferry stop, Yorkville is more popular than ever.

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Learn more about Yorkville and the other sub-neighborhoods of the Upper East Side in this video.

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Where Is Yorkville?

Yorkville is a four-avenue-wide neighborhood of Manhattan that stretches from East 79th Street up to 96th Street between Third Avenue and the East River; East Harlem is the neighborhood directly to its north. The area is a section of the Upper East Side, one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods.

According to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, the median asking price on the Upper East Side was $1.7 million in December 2021, while the median asking price in Manhattan that month was $1.5 million. The median rent on the Upper East Side for the same period is just slightly lower than Manhattan’s. The Upper East Side was $3,300, compared to $3,500 for the borough. 

“When it comes to the Upper East Side, apartments are typically more affordable the further east and further north you go,” says Liz Schwartzberg, a broker with Compass. “And apartments on the avenues in Yorkville generally cost less than those on the east-west streets. Some people might assume that Yorkville’s prices are lower compared to the rest of the Upper East Side, but that isn’t always the case.”

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Yorkville’s History

Like many parts of New York City, Yorkville was once woods and farms. During the American Revolution, George Washington commandeered a hillside estate along the East River. A wealthy merchant named Archibald Gracie built another mansion bearing his name on the same site two decades later. Today, Gracie Mansion is the official residence of the Mayor of New York, but back in the early 1800s, the area was a bucolic escape from the city. It wasn’t until the railroad’s arrival that a small town began to grow. Within a few decades, Manhattan’s street grid extended up through the 80s, and Yorkville was incorporated into the rapidly expanding city.

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What Type of Housing Is in Yorkville?

“There’s a wide variety of housing stock in Yorkville,” says Schwartzberg. “You have everything from pre-war doorman co-ops and luxury condos to townhouses and walkup buildings.” And while in years past the area was relatively low-buzz, “the recent addition of the Q train has made the area a lot more accessible and desirable,” she says. As a result, some apartments fetch a premium, especially the pre-war co-ops and townhouses near Carl Schurz Park. Schwartzberg notes that new developments, such as Beckford House & Tower, are drawing new buyers and renters to the area.

It’s precisely this mix of old and new that Savannah Lamas, another broker with Compass, loves. She was raised in the neighborhood and moved back after college. Now, Lamas lives on 86th Street and specializes in Yorkville home listings. “There are multiple blocks lined with townhouses that have been there for more than a century, mixed in with new construction. I live in a pre-war rental building, much like many others in the area that offer larger bedrooms and living rooms than your typical new developments. At the same time, there are plenty of condo buildings being built.”

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How Long Are the Commutes from Yorkville to Midtown?

The expansion of the Q train along Second Avenue means that it now takes under 15 minutes to get from 96th Street to Times Square (and under 30 minutes to travel to the Financial District). However, the subway isn’t the only option for commuters.

Residents further east can take the M31 bus, which runs along York Avenue before turning on 57th Street; the ride from East 92nd Street and York to the high-rise offices of Midtown East takes about 25 minutes. And for one of the city’s most scenic commuting options, there’s the NYC Ferry. The Soundview Route zips from East 90th Street to the pier at 34th Street in just 15 minutes, passing Roosevelt Island, the Chrysler Building, and the United Nations on the way.

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Parks and Green Spaces in Yorkville

Yorkville’s streets are some of the greenest in the city, lined with nearly over 2,000 trees. Ruppert Park on 90th Street and Second Avenue has a playground with spray showers in the summer, plus lots of bench seating, while Asphalt Green’s Upper East Side campus at 90th Street and York Avenue is a major athletic center. Here, you can find an Olympic-size swimming pool, a fitness center, and a 90,000-square-foot turf field for recreational soccer and community sports leagues.

And along the river itself, the East River Walk goes right by Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park. Lamas calls this 15-acre park “the neighborhood gem.” It has a playground and plenty of picnic spots with views over the river to the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse and Randall’s Island, a public green space that hosts events and public programming. The park is home to two dog runs as well. And of course, Central Park is a short distance away.

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What to See & Do in Yorkville

To many residents, the beauty of Yorkville lies in its lack of significant attractions that would bring attention — and crowds. Museum Mile, a concentration of museums along Fifth Avenue, is a comfortable few avenues to the west. The famously chic designer shops of the Upper East Side’s Madison Avenue are further south. Instead, expect a truly local feel in Yorkville, where the main activities involve:

  • Eating out.
  • Heading to the nearby parks.
  • Exploring the neighborhood at your own pace.

“Yorkville is special because it has Second and First Avenues that are very busy and lively, and then you also have a more quiet, neighborhood feel on East End Avenue and by Carl Schurz Park,” says Lamas.

What’s another activity that’s particularly enjoyable in Yorkville? Grocery shopping. Here you will find Whole Foods Market on 87th and Third, a Fairway Market on 86th and Second, and a host of mom-and-pop spots. “Shaller & Weber is a local favorite. The butcher shop has been around since 1937,” says Lamas. “I also love Agata & Valentina, a family-owned specialty market that’s been around since 1993.” And if you’re looking for a sweet spot to end a day in Yorkville, she recommends UES, an ice cream shop with a hidden speakeasy-style bar and lounge.

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