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Five Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Upper West Side blog image

Five Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Upper West Side

December 06 2021

Manhattan is divided into downtown, midtown and uptown and split lengthwise along Fifth Avenue – creating the East and West side.

The Upper West Side, where you will find the Hotel Beacon, is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks – from the Lincoln Centre to the American Museum of Natural History, attracting millions of tourists to the neighborhood year after year.

But what are the things you don’t know about the Upper West Side?

There is an Annual Tulip Festival

The Netherlands is often considered the tulip capital of the world, but did you know the UWS is home to an annual tulip festival with up to 15,000 blooms every spring?

Manhattan might not strike you as an ideal location for a tulip garden, but there are plenty of green spaces throughout the city to enjoy. The West Side Community Garden – located between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues on 89th and 90th streets – is a privately owned garden, tended to by volunteers.

The garden started life as a vacant lot until the mid-70’s when the project was started. The space is open – and beautiful – all year round, but you’ll need to visit in November to help plant the bulbs or April to see them in bloom at the Tulip Festival.

Central Park taken from above with Manhattan surrounding the park.

The Most Visited Park in the USA

New York, despite being the biggest city in the USA, is home to numerous vast green spaces – in fact, 22% of the city is public parks. Central Park is the most visited Urban Park in the USA and perhaps the rest of the world too!

The park is over 800 acres - bigger than some small countries, including the Vatican City and Monaco. Before the park, the area was home to a small village and mostly rural farmland – however the residents were displaced by the 1960’s and the Upper West Side began to transform into the neighborhood we are familiar with today.

Now the park welcomes 42 million visitors every single year, is home to 275 species of bird and almost 20,000 trees – and with something to enjoy all year round, it’s a favorite for residents and visitors! Central Park is also the world’s most filmed location with many of your favorite movies set in the green space (check out our Christmas Movie tour here!).

The Most Photographed Place in the World

Central Park is the most filmed location in the world, and NYC is the world’s most photographed. Whether it’s the Statue of Liberty, the lights of Times Square or the Big Apple’s ever-expanding skyline, it’s impossible to visit the city without snapping your favorite landmarks.

New York public library steps with crosswalk in front and sky scrappers in the background.

The UWS is Home to the (Third) Biggest Library in the World

When visiting a new city as a tourist, museums and galleries are often at the top of the list, but libraries are commonly forgotten. The UWS is home to the New York Public Library – and you can’t visit the neighborhood without stopping by.

The NYPL is home to over 50 million books and (after the Library of Congress) is the largest library in the USA and second largest in the world. Whether you consider yourself an avid book worm or not, the library is a must see on the UWS.

New York City was originally named New Amsterdam!

Before the Big Apple was known as New York City, it was originally named New Amsterdam. In 1664, the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was surrendered to an English Naval Squadron and its name changed to New York, after the Duke of York who arranged the mission.

You can find Amsterdam Avenue – a nod to the city’s old name - on the Upper West Side, which runs behind the Hotel Beacon.

If you’re thinking about visiting the Upper West Side, the Hotel Beacon is located in the heart of all the action, offering a range of rooms and suites just minutes from Central Park.