Carnegie Hill is home to many of the city’s leading museums, top private schools, and most luxurious homes.
While it is only 10 blocks long from south to north (86th to 96th) and a few blocks wide (from Third Avenue to Central Park), Carnegie Hill is home to many of the city’s leading museums, top private schools, and most luxurious homes. It is in some ways a concentrated version of the essential character of the Upper East Side — or at least the part of it that is synonymous with New York’s wealthy elite. The neighborhood’s history as an enclave for the rich dates back more than a century. It gets its name, after all, from Andrew Carnegie’s mansion on Fifth Avenue. It has never faltered, though over the years some of those mansions (including Carnegie’s) have been converted to other uses. Still, the rowhouses on its side streets and the apartments in buildings with sometimes infamously strict co-op boards are some of Manhattan’s most expensive real estate.
Before it was renamed, Carnegie Hill was known as Prospect Hill, and while it was home to a number of handsome rowhouses, Andrew Carnegie’s decision to move there made the area a coveted address. In the decades after the completion of his house in 1902, other leading figures in the business world followed, building their own mansions in a mix of styles. A number of them have been converted to other uses over time — Carnegie’s home now houses Cooper Hewitt (the Smithsonian’s design museum), while Felix Warburg’s mansion (completed in 1908) is now the Jewish Museum. Those aren’t the only cultural institutions of note: The Guggenheim Museum and the 92nd Street Y, with its celebrated speaker series, are also Carnegie Hill institutions. Finally, the neighborhood is home to a number of New York’s most selective private schools: Dalton, Nightingale-Bamford, and Spence.
Of the several shopping streets in the neighborhood, Madison Avenue is the most upscale one. You’ll find some familiar brands like Brooks Brothers and Williams Sonoma, though most boutiques here tend to be independent, selling designer clothes for both kids and adults. Along with the museums, the Corner Bookstore on 93rd and Madison is a neighborhood institution in its own right. Lexington and Third avenues are not as posh, and they are where residents tend to head when they’re looking for necessities rather than luxuries. There is a similar split when it comes to restaurants. Special occasion spots, including Paola’s (Italian) and Table d’Hote and Pascalou (both French), are concentrated on Madison Avenue, while Lexington and Third avenues have more options when you’re seeking a casual burger or a bowl of ramen.