New York's many neighborhoods offer diverse and distinct features, and the city's ambiance can change dramatically in the course of a few blocks. Where one calls home very much affects the flavor of residency, and the choice is highly personal. Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital residents travel to the hospital from throughout the five boroughs (well, okay, no one lives on Staten Island). What follows are a few thoughts on some of the more popular neighborhoods:
Upper West Side: The majority of Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital residents are also residents of Manhattan's much-loved Upper West Side. The territory west of Central Park from 60th Street to 110th boasts charm, comfort, elegance, and excitement. Housing is not cheap here, but bargains exist. It's a neighborhood that feels like a neighborhood, where schoolchildren stroll the sidewalk under canopy trees, and sidewalk cafes fill the evening with the murmur of conversation. Chief among this area's advantages is the easy commute it provides. The venerable, (mostly) reliable 1, A, and C trains careen beneath its streets, shuttling residents to and from the hospital at all hours and throughout the year.
Washington Heights: An apartment in Washington Heights offers a young doctor the opportunity to live among his or her patients, and to see the world that they see. This largely Latino neighborhood is rich in culture and history, serving once as a battle station for George Washington before becoming a playground for the leisured middle class, then a haven for scores of immigrant families. Rent is less expensive in Washington Heights than farther south, and the ability to walk to and from work can be priceless when hours get long. Though far from unsafe, this remains an economically depressed area, and living in Washington Heights requires awareness of one's surroundings. If you're looking for apartments in this area, definitely aim west of Broadway.
Harlem: Take the A train to 125th Street, the legendary furnace from which American jazz emerged. In recent decades, this part of New York has expanded its draw, and features shopping, restaurants, and entertainment to suit many tastes. Lower rents remain an enticing feature of Harlem, as does the neighborhood's deep and unambiguous coolness.
Upper East Side: The storied streets of the Upper East Side have served as a literary and theatrical backdrop for decades, and indeed nearly every corner bears a bit of magic. Quirky, luxurious, and lovely—live here and you'll feel like you're in a Woody Allen movie every time you step out your door. For residents on the UES, getting to Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital isn't as easy as, say, finding a delicious bagel with lox, but it can definitely be done. A car helps, and people find various parking arrangements to make it work. Oh, and housing crisis notwithstanding, no one would ever consider living on the UES gentle on the wallet.
Midtown: You too can feel like a mogul of finance from your lofty perch in a midtown high-rise. This is a neighborhood devoted to commerce, and what it lacks in homey comforts it makes up for in bustle, glamour, and efficiency. Trains converge on midtown like nephrons on the renal pelvis, so you can always get where you want to go. Carnegie Hall, MOMA, and Times Square are in your backyard. Actually, there are no backyards here. Not one.
Greenwich Village: There's probably no place hipper than the Village, where Bob Dylan was born into greatness, and where — more recently — Giuliani's anti-crime efforts transformed the streets into canyons of genteel and trendy commerce. Here you can find food from around the world, clothes to meet any desire, and music spilling from most doors. Apartments here tend to be cozy (read: tiny), full of character (read: old), and coveted (read: expensive), but the neighborhood is, undeniably, a blast. If you settle here, please, please throw a party.
Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, New Jersey, and beyond: Every year an elite and intrepid few Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital residents break free of Manhattan and stake out New York City's far-flung frontiers. There are magnificent neighborhoods on the opposite shores of the Hudson and East Rivers, and for some (because of spousal employment, family care needs, or a sheer sense of adventure), these best fit the bill. Not far from the frenzy and glitz of Wall Street and Times Square are wide Brooklyn streets that feel more like a small Midwestern town, and suburban tracts in Queens where yellow cabs and doormen are replaced by kids on bikes and dads mowing lawns on the weekends. In the north Bronx, curving paths sink deep in heavily wooded hills, and there's not a street vendor to be found. Believe it or not, you can live pretty far from Manhattan without a car, and still make it to morning rounds on time. It takes some planning, though, so those looking to head for the horizon are advised to chat with someone else who's been there before signing on the dotted line.
These are just a few of the many neighborhood options available to Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital residents, and an initial decision doesn't need to be final; no small number of us move at least once during our employment at the hospital. Wherever you choose to live in New York, you are bound to experience variety and richness unparalleled by anywhere else in the country. You are bound to have an experience you'll never forget.