Riverside Drive is New York City’s most scenic street. As one of the Upper West Side’s main roads, it parallels the West Side Highway and offers panoramic views to the Hudson River. From brownstones to limestone townhouses and beaux arts pre-war buildings, the street is rich in both its architecture and history. Read below to discover what makes this NYC landmark a must-see for both locals and visitors alike!
Where is Riverside Drive?
Riverside Drive travels past the Upper West Side and the uptown neighborhoods of Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Washington Heights. The street starts at 72nd Street as it emerges from Riverside Boulevard which stretches all the day down from 62nd St. It then continues north until it eventually merges with Henry Hudson Parkway. The MTA operates two public buses that use Riverside Drive as part of their route. The M5 line, which goes from 72nd St. to 135th St, and the Bx6, which concludes its journey by Riverside Dr. and 158th St.
The Riverside Drive Viaduct is located between Tiemann Place and 125th St. The viaduct transforms part of the road into an elevated steel highway. It’s design was considered to be a feat of engineering at the time of its inception. The completion of the viaduct during the early 1900’s symbolized a great time of confidence in American technology. At the same time, New Yorkers were happy to be able to drive their cars through a large portion of the city while enjoying unparalleled views of the Hudson River.
Riverside Drive was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. He was a visionary landscape architect who intended to turn a portion of the original street into a scenic parkway. Olmsted was also determined to make use out of the barren piece of land facing the Hudson River by turning it into an urban park. He merged both of his plans into one in order to create Riverside Drive and what is known today as Riverside Park. Other architects began to take interest in the project and by the late 1800’s construction was already well underway.
During the 1980s, Riverside Drive saw a major expansion under the helm of business magnate Donald Trump. He proposed to expand the street to the south under the name of Riverside Boulevard. His large real estate development project also increased Riverside Park’s size by 23 acres.
The Paterno, 440 Riverside Drive
People and Press
Some notable residents who have been proud to call Riverside Drive their home in the past are newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, writer Ralph Ellison, and legendary baseball player Babe Ruth. Hearst made real estate history when he purchased a quintuplex at The Clarendon. It was the largest apartment to ever exist in New York City at the time of its sale.
Riverside Drive has been featured in plenty of films, books, tv shows, and even music videos. This is hardly a surprise since it is one of NYC’s most emblematic streets. Some of the movies to feature Riverside Drive are romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail”, the Tom Cruise thriller “Vanilla Sky” , and Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”.
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Edgar is a a film fanatic, a food lover, and an Upper West Side enthusiast. After working in PR and marketing in Chicago, he is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He loves photography and on his spare time you can find him hiking or biking the great outdoors (while also snapping some pretty awesome Instagram pics!).