Riverside Drive (Manhattan)

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For other uses, see Riverside Drive.
1 Riverside Drive at 72nd Street (C.P.H. Gilbert, architect)
Monument to the Heroes of the Fire Department, 100th Street
Curved facades of The Colosseum and The Paterno at 116th Street
The park side under record snowfall in the blizzard of February 2006
Riverside Drive at 72nd Street, looking north from the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Plaza

Riverside Drive is a scenic north-south thoroughfare in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The boulevard runs on the west side of Manhattan, generally parallel to the Hudson River from 72nd Street to near the George Washington Bridge at 181st Street. North of 96th Street, Riverside Drive is a wide boulevard; at other points it divides to provide a serpentine local street with access to the residential buildings. Some of the most coveted addresses in New York are located along its route.

History and description[edit]

Riverside Drive was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as part of his concept for Riverside Park. It passes through the Manhattan neighborhoods of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, over Manhattanville in West Harlem by way of the Riverside Drive Viaduct and through Washington Heights. Among the monuments, sights and institutions along its route are the Eleanor Roosevelt statue by Penelope Jencks,[1] the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Anna Hyatt Huntington's Joan of Arc,[2] the Fireman's Memorial at 100th Street (a focus of spontaneous dedications of flowers and teddy bears after 9/11)[3] Grant's Tomb, The Interchurch Center, Riverside Church, Sakura Park, Riverbank State Park, Trinity Church Cemetery, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Fort Washington Park.

Only a few stretches of Riverside Drive were built along an older road; due to the hilly terrain, Riverside Drive passes over 96th Street, 125th Street and 158th Street on viaducts; at 125th and 158th Streets, an old alignment is present, also named Riverside Drive while the viaduct portion or main route is officially named and signed "Riverside Drive West". Between Tiemann Place and 135th Street, the road passes over a viaduct. At its north end, Riverside Drive used to merge with the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway. However, in 2005, the retaining wall of Castle Village collapsed onto the roadway and on the northbound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway. The wall was repaired and the roadway reopened in March 2008.

Riverside Drive terminated at Grant's Tomb in a cul-de-sac, prior to the construction of the Manhattan Valley viaduct, spanning 125th Street, completed in 1900. North of 158th Street the right of way which currently carries the name Riverside Drive was known as Boulevard Lafayette, which led to Plaza Lafayette in Hudson Heights.

The section exiting the parkway at the Dyckman Street exit and ending at Broadway is still known as Riverside Drive.

The eastern side of Riverside Drive, once a series of luxuriously finished rowhouses interspersed with free-standing nineteenth century mansions set in large lawns, today is lined with luxury apartment buildings and some remaining town houses from the Drive's beginning to 118th Street.

The brick-faced Schwab House occupies the site of "Riverside", built for steel magnate Charles M. Schwab, formerly the grandest and most ambitious house ever built on the island of Manhattan. Among the more eye-catching apartment houses are the curved facades of The Colosseum and the Paterno and the Cliff-Dwellers Apartments at 96th Street, with mountain lions and buffalo skulls on its friezes. The Henry Codman Potter house at 89th Street is one of the few remaining mansions on Riverside Drive; it houses Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. Across from it is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1902). At 99th Street is a memorial to Beaux-Arts architect John Merven Carrère by his partner Thomas Hastings. The Firefighters' Memorial at 100th Street was sculpted by Attilio Piccirilli.

Notable residents[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The living room of Oscar Madison's "large eight-room affair on Riverside Drive in the upper eighties" is the setting of the 1965 Neil Simon comedy, The Odd Couple.
  • In the movie Death Wish, architect Paul Kearsey (Charles Bronson) lives at 33 Riverside Drive.
  • Bob Randall's play 6 Rms Riv Vu, tells the story of a married advertising copywriter and a discontented housewife who both end up looking at the same Riverside Drive apartment. The door is locked accidentally, trapping them inside, and a connection slowly develops as they begin to share the details of their respective lives.
  • In the concert Liza with a Z, Liza Minnelli performs the number 'Ring The Bells' about a woman who meets her dream man while traveling in Europe despite the fact that, initially unbeknownst to them, they'd been living next door to each other at 5 Riverside Drive.
  • In the sitcom Will & Grace, Will lives at 155 Riverside Drive, as do Grace and Jack (Sean Hayes) at times throughout the series.
  • Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) of the sitcom 30 Rock lives at 168 Riverside Drive.
  • In the novel Illuminatus, the character, Joe Malik, lives in a brownstone on Riverside Drive.
  • In the movie You've Got Mail, Joe Fox lives at 152 Riverside Drive using the screen name NY152.
  • In the TV show Mad Men, copywriter Freddy Rumsen lives at 152 Riverside Drive.[8]
  • The hard rock band Tora Tora have a song called "Riverside Drive" on their debut album Surprise Attack.
  • In the USA Network series White Collar, Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) lives in the 4th floor studio of a mansion owned by elderly widow June (Diahann Carroll), located 351 Riverside Drive (the Schinasi Mansion)



  1. ^ Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial; Penelope Jencks
  2. ^ Joan of Arc
  3. ^ NYC Parks Dept.: Historical Signs: Fireman's Memorial; New York Times
  4. ^ Literary New York: a history and guide,Susan Edmiston, Linda D. Cirino, Houghton Mifflin, 1976p. 268
  5. ^ Broad, William J., "Why They Called It the Manhattan Project", New York Times, October 30, 2007. "Oppenheimer and his parents lived at 155 Riverside Drive, an elegant apartment building at West 88th Street. The superintendent, Joe Gugulski, said the family lived on the 11th floor, overlooking the Hudson River."
  6. ^ Serge Sabarsky, 83, Art Dealer And Expert on Expressionism - New York Times. Nytimes.com (1996-02-26). Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  7. ^ http://www.buchhandel.de/WebApi1/GetMmo.asp?MmoId=2515447&mmoType=PDF&isbn=9783791351643
  8. ^ Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 9, Six Month Leave

External links[edit]