The Upper East Side is having a moment. The recent arrival of the new book, “Primates of Park Avenue” and the Bravo show, “Odd Mom Out,” paint a picture of the monied denizens of that neighborhood, particularly the mommies, and their over-the-top rituals which involve Botox, billionaires, Birkin bags, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, bad birthdays and bone broth, not necessarily in that order (see “Urban Jungle” for an explanation of those last two and a review of the book by reporter Isabel Schwab).
Wednesday Martin, the author of “Primates,” takes a purportedly anthropological outsider’s view of those who live in the neighborhood, as does the star and creator of “Odd Mom Out,” Jill Kargman.
You can spot ads for “Odd Mom Out” all over the city, most prominently on the sides of MTA buses that the characters in the show would never be caught dead riding. The ads show Kargman (who is also an Upper East Side native) alongside a group of other perfectly manicured moms, slyly eating a French fry while the others apply lipstick. Of course they all look fashion-model skinny, as if they had never touched anything fried in their lives.
This is hardly the first time the Upper East Side has been under the microscope; see “The Nanny Diaries” and “Gossip Girl.” But the current focus comes at an interesting time for the neighborhood.
The extravagant ways of the Upper East Side may look even stranger these days as the balance of power in New York City shifts away from that neighborhood, towards Downtown and (gasp!) Brooklyn, which have their own values (that can be similarly pilloried and which we’ll save for another editor’s note). A greater proportion of money and culture have migrated to those neighborhoods, with the average price for luxury condominiums Downtown superseding Uptown, the Whitney Museum moving to the West Village, and the priciest private school in the city — Avenues — setting up shop in Chelsea.
This shift is on display in our ranking of the priciest restaurants in the city, and what you get for your large outlay at each (see “Fine dining loosens up”). Surprisingly, only one of the top 10 is located in Midtown and one on the Upper East Side. Meanwhile, four of the city’s priciest restaurants are below 34th Street and two are in Brooklyn, including one in Bushwick (double gasp). A cultural shift indeed.
The Uptown/Downtown divide is also on display in our profile stories this month.
In “Mad man mocks” by reporter Christopher Cameron, we sit down with advertising mogul and satirist of the super wealthy, Richard Kirshenbaum, who recently came out with a new book, “Isn’t That Rich? Life Among the 1%.”
Kirshenbaum was inspired to write about the über wealthy after seeing a driver carry a drunken teenage boy out of a black SUV and into the lobby of “a venerable Park Avenue residential building.”
“Never mind the nannies, drivers are the new dads,” he noted, adding, “If I didn’t have a way to express my feelings about the craziness here, there’s no way I could just go on living Uptown.”
Our cover story on high-end design duo Robert and Cortney Novogratz is a bit lighter. We go inside a home of the couple and their seven (!) kids on West Street in Greenwich Village, and talk about their decidedly Downtown ethos. “Make art. Keep making art. Some people will love it. Some people will hate it. You just have to keep making art,” says patriarch Robert. The family earned their celebrity status through their Bravo and HGTV reality shows “9 by Design” and “Home by Novogratz,” as well as home goods lines for the likes of CB2 and Old Navy, and are now working on renovating a property in Los Angeles. (They think the weather in L.A. is better but like the people in New York more .)
We write more about family living in the city in “No kidding around,” taking a look at responsible and eco-friendly ways to source cool kids’ furniture. (There is already enough guilt involved in being a parent, so you might as well get this right.)
Finally, we examine the latest celebrity moves in the Hamptons (“Hamptons home hunt”) — perfect beach reading about beach real estate. And we’ve got a guide to luxe outdoor stuff you can buy (including “glamping” trips) in “Lux life.” And check out all the recent party photos — from Uptown and Downtown — on page 34. Not to mention some of the priciest property listings from all over on page 74.
Enjoy the issue.