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Old 04-14-2011, 09:31 AM
 
Location: New York NY
5,516 posts, read 8,762,507 times
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Since you are not American, I suspect a lot of your comfort level uptown would derive from how your husband deals with the community. Many people there will take their cues from how he acts, because it is a heavy Latino neighborhood and typcially the man in the family will often set the tone for how people in the neighborhood see the entire family. Fair or not, that's what I've noticed.

Where is he from? Is he used to being around black and Latino people? Is he used to big city life in general? Is he willing to learn new things from his neighbors instead of lecturing them? (A real problem with academics in general!) Can he look at people and not make snap judgements about them because of what they're wearing, their accent, or how much money they seem to have? If so, your transition to living Uptown will be much easier. There are white familes there, as others have said. The ones that are happy, I suspsect, manage to live there without attitude. If he can do that and you can too, it'll be OK. I n general, people uptown I've found are a bit friendlier and less reserved, than in many neighborhoods downtown.

One bad thing about the Uptown neighborhood is the awful state of retail. There is very litte quality shopping in the blocks immediately nearby and you'll probably find yourself traveling elsewhere even for basic stuff like good groceries or a decent drugstore. The schools, in a word, suck, but that could change by the time they're old enough for kindergarten. And you're thinking private anyways.

I don't know that particular block, but in general blocks with lots of home ownership tend to be safer and more cared for than those with many large apartments, especially in less affluent places. But there will be more petty crime and low-level drug dealing here than downtown for sure and more people just hanging out on the streets or stoop sitting in warm weather. Can you deal with that? Most of it will be benign, but some isn't.

Certainly check out whether there is a block association. If there is it can be invaluable in helping you meet neighbors and navigate around. Thre are often precinct (police) community meetings so you might ask your broker about how active these are.

Of course, bone up on your Spanish because this part of the city is still heavily Dominican and Puerto Rican. Big change from when I was kid ( I used to live three blocks from your uptown address) and the nabe was changing then from white to black, with very few Latinos at all.

Upper West Side is of course more settled, affluent, better schools, shopping and transportation and also an easy ride to Columbia. Its not the space you want but you woudnt be the first New Yorkers to have to make do with less space than they'd like. Either choice could be right for you.

Weclome to America!

Personally, I woudn't buy anything in a city I was unfamilar with until I'd lived there a while to get the feel of things, but maybe not buying isn't an option for you.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:50 AM
DAS
 
2,532 posts, read 6,857,739 times
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I like how one poster mentioned the historical changes. The area at first was Native American of course. Then Whites and Blacks arrived together, as the area was a plantation owned by Alexander Hamilton, one of our founding fathers, his Black slaves worked the land. A poster mentioned Jackie Robinson park, this park is located along Bradhurst Ave., named for a family that owned a large plantation in that area, where Black slaves also worked the land. So from it's beginnings in American History, the Hamilton Heights area has always been racially mixed. It has also always been economically mixed, from it's wealthy plantation owners, down to the poor slaves, and everyone in between that built it from the beginning.

My family has lived in Hamilton Heights since 1928. However the area has been mostly Black and Latin since my family arrived there. My older relatives that came from the Mediterranean, and the south, have passed on now, but according to them, and my older relatives born in the 1940's Bway was always Latin mostly Cuban and Puerto Rican. Amsterdam was always mostly Black, and everyone met up, on the in between blocks.

You will still find it a lot like that accept the Latins are mostly Dominican now. You will also find that there are White people, and Asians living comfortably in the area now. You will see all the groups in the laundries washing clothes, in the supermarkets, in the subway stations in the morning, talking to each other outside, etc.

You will find a social, economic, mix, which there always was, just that now it includes more ethnic groups than before.

You have to feel comfortable in this type of mix. Some people can only cope with living within a certain economic enclave. Drugs, and crime are everywhere in the city. However the difference in a community where there are low income people, is that with lower income people the activity is more out in the open. For example, when you live in my area of Morningside Heights a drug addict with more money, may have their drugs delivered to their apts, so you won't see a dealer standing somewhere in the street. People may feel safer because they don't see the transaction, but we still have the same issues a mile a way from Hamilton Heights, it is just quieter because of all the University buildings in the vicinity. So no matter where you live, you have to take the necessary precautions.

There is crime, in the area, there is noise in the area.

The good thing about your visit, is that you are visiting when the weather is nice. I hope you are here for the weekend. Walk around on a Saturday in the early evening starting around 5 PM if the weather is warm, if it is a little brisk outside come earlier like around 3 PM, a lot of people will be outside around those times. Summer time is when it you will have the most activity and noise. Your particular block is usually on the quiet side. However Broadway and Amsterdam has stores and businesses, so there is a lot of activity. You can easily see if you would feel comfortable in the area.

If you are here on the weekdays only, go in the early evening around 5-6 PM, that will be the busiest time. Also walk around in the supermarket, and check out a laundry even if you don't need to use it when and if you live in the area. There is a supermarket right on the corner of Bway and 150th, and a laundry across the street. There is another laundry on Amsterdam as well. This way you get to see and interact with some of the residents.

My other suggestion is take a walk and start at 155th and Bway, walk one block east to Amsterdam Ave, and walk down to 145th, turn at 145th, and walk one block west back to Bway, and go back up to 155th and Bway. You will see most of the stores and businesses in the area, and really get a good idea of the atmosphere, especially the days and times that I'm suggesting.

There is playground on W. 148th and Riverside Drive, there is also a state park running from 135th to 145th down into the Drive. You will see the entrance at 145th and Riverside Drive. There is a pool, ice skating, roller skating, and other activities.

The people in Hamilton Heights are friendly, and can be down right nosey, so if anything they will just ask you a lot of questions about NZ and what it is like to live there once you get to know a few people. You will have many neighbors from other parts of the world, that will share their stories with you as well. People on your block quickly get to know your face as you come and go, and they will say hello to you after a while.

I'm trying to give you a brief description, of the area, the good and the bad. The decision on which area is best for you is ultimately a personal one. Please post back and let us know what your decision is why you chose it. Best wishes to you.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:06 AM
DAS
 
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I have to say I disagree with the need to learn spanish. Of course it never hurts to learn another language. Many people live in the area and don't speak Spanish and the 3rd, and 4th generation Latin people can't speak it well or hardly at all.

There are still many Black Americans in the area that cannot speak Spanish, and they shop at stores that cater to the Dominican community, and go to the salons, and they have no problem with communication. This forum will make you believe that all the Black Americans have packed up and went south. Some did, but many have gone to another boro to live, and get more space at a better price. Especially the ones in Hamilton Heights that still have families in the area. Many Black and Dominican families in Hamilton heights come from well known huge extended families in the area. A lot of the socialization on the streets in the summer, that is mentioned in several posts ocurrs because of this. The apartments are too small for a large meet up, so it is usually done in the summer, on the side walk. That is Harlem life.
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Old 04-14-2011, 05:09 PM
 
Location: London
1,583 posts, read 3,676,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nymagic View Post
I had similar concerns before moving up here from the UWS 3.5 years ago. I am so glad I moved - I've gotten much more space - the neighbors are friendlier up here and the transportation is better. There are lots of young families with small children and you will be between 2 parks, Riverside and Jackie Robinson. I haven't had any issues with crime - it's a big city, be careful. But if you do some research, you will probably find the area to be as safe, if not safer than the UWS. There is a police station right near where your possible new home is.

The negatives are - lack of decent restaurants - and Amsterdam Avenue is a pit - just plain ugly. It's not the kind of NY neighborhood where you stroll about and go to cafes. People entertain in their homes because they have more room to do so.

Lot's of artists and musicians have always called this area home and still do. The express trains at 145th make getting downtown a breeze because if the A isn't there, then the D arrives.

Are there poor people, pit bulls and trash. Do kids run around at night and make noise - YES to all of the above. But this is NY - it's a mixed area with lots of different types of people. I find some of the entitled rich people on the UWS to be more annoying than the poor people up here.

Check it out - walk around and you will get a sense of things - it's the only way to decide. The area is changing - that much is clear, but it seems to be happening in an organic way - without a lot of animosity. Some of the older black families are moving to the south (US). Younger white professionals some with kids - and students moving in. The area used to be white, Jewish and german before it became a haven for African Americans with money - so change is the only constant I know.

I love the diversity. I think your kids will have a richer experience growing up here as opposed to some lilly white enclave where the only black people are pushing white babies around in strollers while their parents slave away downtown to pay the high rent/mortgage.
This is a pretty accurate description of my neighborhood.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:22 PM
 
Location: New York City
395 posts, read 1,214,111 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeRrYcRaCk View Post
i dont know where these last 2 posters come from (probably kansas) but the area is still hood no matter how many musicians from nebraska with tight pants move there. Where is SuperMario when u need him?
I beg your pardon sir, but I happen to be a native New Yorker. Hamilton Heights is not HOOD. And you obviously know HOOD because your information on your post says your from the Bronx, and how is Hamilton Heights anything compared to the deeper part of the Bronx of the 2/5 train. Albeit, Riverdale and Pelham Bay are nice.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Auckland
5 posts, read 21,932 times
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Thanks everyone for the extremely helpful posts. You've certainly made me feel Hamilton Heights may be a pretty good fit for us. dh grew up in a place called Waltham, MA and has lived in Boston and Los angeles, so has lived in urban areas and been around black and latino people before but he said he lived in the nicer areas of town. He's a very accepting guy and he's always really open and comfortable with all sorts of people. I think he should be ok with not lecturing and not being judgemental, I mean he has been around my family who aren't exactly the most normal people in the world. I believe for me it will be a huge culture shock, I have been over once but only spent time in the new england area. But i'm sure it will be a good thing, give me greater perspective.

"Are there poor people, pit bulls and trash. Do kids run around at night and make noise"
None of these bother me it pretty much describes my street growing up. Except the street was very a bunch of one level single family homes and almost all white. The fact that kids run around at night is actually a positive, although I won't let my kids do it, it shows the neighbourhood is safe enough for kids to run around like that.

Thanks for the advice on where to walk, i'll definately do that when we're over.

I think if we feel comfortable enough when we walk around and the house looks just as beautiful in person, the hamilton heights one will be the one we choose.

As for schools, we really like the Anderson school, but i've read its pretty much impossible to get into. Otherwise we'll be looking at the more low key privates (Calhoun, Trevor, Dwight for the IB) based on my perception over the internet.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:58 PM
 
Location: New York City
395 posts, read 1,214,111 times
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The Anderson School is a great school, but if you are going to look into Dwight, you should also look into Dalton. I attended that school and graduated in 2009, and it is on par with Dwight in terms of price (ok, it is just a tad more). Both offer great academics and sports and opportunities for the parents to get involved. As well, both are extremely hard to get into past a certain point. But I would suggest a private school that runs from k-12 because your child can stay there for the duration of his/her schooling and not have to worry about the competitiveness of trying to get into a good high school. Good luck and let us know how your move goes!
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Auckland
5 posts, read 21,932 times
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I've been looking on urbanbaby, and the impression I get of Dalton is that its the school every family wants, is extremely hard to get into and then once you do a lot of kids get counselled out because the academics are so intense. I also get the impression that most of the student body is wealthy and from the upper east side, and the parents may be like the one in the Nanny Diaries book/movie. Its obviously a great school, but I don't want my children to be under too much pressure. I will obviously look into it once i'm there and obviously my perception from the other side of the world won't be completely accurate, i'm definately open to all schools and would prefer k-12 coed.

Last edited by NZtoNY; 04-14-2011 at 07:34 PM..
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:50 PM
 
Location: NYPD"s 30th Precinct
2,565 posts, read 5,511,840 times
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My girlfriend and I live in the west 140's between Broadway and Riverside. We're a white couple in our 20's and while we're definitely the minority, its not like people stop and stare as we walk down the street. While you do see plenty of white people out in the neighborhood, now that I think about it, I can't recall seeing any caucasain children. I'm sure they're there, I've just never really looked.

Most of the mom and pop shops in my area speak little English, but between their limited English and my limited college Spanish its enough to get by. There's a good shopping center just a mile or two away, across the 145th St bridge in the Bronx with a Target, Best Buy, and some other places.

I've gotten people offering to sell me weed on the street from time to time, but that's about it. I was out in the meat packing district the other night and had two people try to sell me coke in five minutes, which has never happened back in Harlem.

I work odd hours and often walk to and from my car at all hours of the night and have never gotten any kind of trouble.

As everyone else has said, when the warm weather comes, it does turn into a bit of a zoo at all hours of the night. Fortunately my apartment faces the rear of the building, which helps a lot.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:38 PM
 
Location: London
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Oh, and beware of that f*cking annoying ice cream truck that comes around in the summer. It plays this godawful ghetto song that makes you want to rip your hair out.
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