«New York City Neighborhoods» : Exploring Yorkville

Interview by Rachel Brunet, director and editor-in-chief of Petit Journal New York

BARNES New York invites you in its series of articles untitled “ New York City Neighborhoods”, where you can regularly discover the different districts of the city, in the eyes of French speakers who have settled there. They tell us all about their neighborhood, in their words, their tastes, their habits. Today we explore Yorkville, a neighborhood in a neighborhood, that of the Upper East Side. Hélène Drummond, yesterday a doctor, now an author, is from Mons, Belgium. She has just released her first novel “La place est prise”. She lives in Yorkville with her husband, who works in finance, and their two children. She tells us about Yorkville.

Lepetitjournal.com New York : You live in Yorkville, on the Upper East Side. What attracted you to this neighborhood?

Hélène Drummond : When we moved from Belgium, we arrived in this neighborhood without really knowing it, thanks to the children’s school. To be located in the correct geographic area for Manhattan New School, PS 290, we had to live in the neighborhood. We had inquired about different schools before moving and had visited a few apartments according to the geographical areas of these schools. We were immediately drawn to the PS 290 school.

Can you tell us about life in this neighborhood, the atmosphere? What makes it live, what drives it?

The atmosphere is very young and dynamic. I would say that the children’s laughter, the scooters, the restaurant terraces, the 86th Street shopping street, the cultural mix, all of this livens up the neighborhood.

You are a mum. How is life with children in Yorkville? Are there many families?

Yes, there are a lot of families. It is a very well located area with excellent schools. The public elementary school PS 290 is fantastic, there are a lot of very reputable private schools in the immediate vicinity as well. Central Park is very close for walks and the beautiful Carl Schurze Park that families love for its playground, shady corners, and romantic atmosphere. There are countless sports clubs in martial arts, basketball, dance, football, and the renowned Asphalt Green sports center which not only offers fabulous sports programs for children of all skill levels, but also courses during the school holidays.

You are a writer. Can you describe us this neighborhood with your own words?

I would say Yorkville to me is the other face of the Upper East Side. It is a neighborhood that borders the old Upper East Side, super chic, staid and conservative, that of Madison Avenue or Park Avenue, while preserving its own identity. When you cross the Upper East Side from Central Park, you are dazzled by the architecture in the streets, the sophistication of the shops, the outfits of the passers-by. The more we go on, the smaller we feel. A little more irritated by the snobbery too.

Then we arrive on Lexington Avenue, we continue on our way and everything changes. We discover Yorkville: the young, the warm, the welcoming. The decor changes suddenly, still chic, but teeming with life, children, restaurants, terraces, noise, everything. It’s not the cacophony of midtown, and it’s not the opulent tranquility of the Upper West Side: it’s a small town within the city itself, which, I believe, has been able to recreate the best of New York life. Yorkville has redefined the Upper East Side.

As a European, can you find a sort of European side or feeling to this district through the inhabitants, the shops, the schools?

Not specifically only European but international in a more general sense. At the PS290 school, almost all nationalities are represented. At my kids’ sports club, Asphalt Green, it’s the same thing. That cosmopolitan aspect is fabulous.

Your favorite places in York City?

Restaurants: ToloAche, a Mexican restaurant 82nd street and Lexington avenue; 83 1/2, Italian restaurant on 83rd street and 1st avenue; AOC East, French bistro on 83rd street and 1st avenue; Boqueria, tapas bar on 77th street and 2nd avenue; Donguri, gourmet Japanese restaurant on 83rd street and 2nd avenue, Luke’s lobster on 81st street and 2nd avenue my kids favorite restaurant).

Bar-restaurant: Le Penrose, on 2nd avenue, between 82nd and 83rd street. Excellent cocktails and great atmosphere.

Maison Kayser on 87th Street and 3rd Avenue, for my almost daily hot chocolate.

Ottomanelli Brothers store, 82nd street and York Avenue. Butcher’s shop run by the Ottomanelli family for several generations. The best steaks in town.

Takunya Nail Salon: Zen and intimate atmosphere, 100% organic products, 81st street between 2nd and 3rd avenue.

Asphalt Green: Sports complex on 90th Street and York Avenue, with FIFA certified football field and Olympic swimming pool. My kids play in Asphlat Green Soccer Club so they each go there at least 4-5 times a week for their practice / matches. Yes, this is our second home …

The small AMC Orphéum cinema on 3rd avenue between 86th street and 87th street.

The Webster Library, on 77th street and 1st avenue.

Barnes & Noble and L’Occitane stores on 86th Street between 3rd and Lexington avenues.

Randall’s Island and the Esplanade along the East River for bike rides.

Blossoming trees in the streets in spring …

Is this a neighborhood that you recommend for those who want to buy or rent?

Absolutely. Especially to families.

If you had to describe Yorkville in 3 words?

Family-friendly, dynamic and cosmopolitan.

Thank you Hélène Drummond

Interview by Rachel Brunet, director and editor-in-chief of Petit Journal New York

Read the article in Le Petit Journal New York

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