Lucerne Hotel, Vacant Storefronts, COVID: 2020 UWS Year In Review

Gus Saltonstall

UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — It was a year that started reasonably typical — familiar topics like community board meetings, Riverside park expansions, and questions over why the city hadn't seen any snow yet.

This strange phenomenon called the "coronavirus" was not yet at the forefront of Upper West Siders' minds.

But that would soon change.

A once-in-a-century pandemic, a reckoning over race and policing, massive economic disruptions, and a contentious presidential race all made 2020 a year Upper West Siders and the world will not soon forget.

As 2021 begins, the Upper West Side Patch is taking a look back at the neighborhood's top stories of 2020:

Upper West Side ZIP Code Has Lowest Coronavirus Rate In NYC

The coronavirus pandemic understandable dominated the headlines for all of New York City this year, as the city became the nation's "epicenter" of the pandemic.

The Upper West Side was among the neighborhoods in New York City least hard-hit by the virus, which laid bare the city's inequity when it came to race and income. As we close out the year, the Upper West Side's 10023 ZIP code has the lowest percent positive rate in New York City.

But that doesn't mean the Upper West Side didn't feel the devastation of the virus in 2020.

More than 300 Upper West Siders lost their lives to COVID-19, celebrated frontline heroes daily while staying painfully apart from one another.

UWS Hotel To Become Temporary Homeless Shelter For 283 People

Due to overcrowding at a homeless shelter in downtown Manhattan, 283 men experiencing homelessness were moved into The Lucerne hotel on the Upper West Side at the end of July.

The influx of new neighbors caused a rift in the Upper West Side neighborhood that will continue to get felt going into 2021.

The attempt by a Facebook group with over 15,000 people in it to lobby the city to move the residents out of the Upper West Side made both city and national news.

Gus Saltonstall/Patch
Gus Saltonstall/Patch

Broadway In Crisis: 57 Shops Stand Empty On Just 30 UWS Blocks

The number of vacant storefronts on the Upper West Side was a major issue before coronavirus struck the city. It's even worse now.

A count carried out by Patch in April 2019 found 47 stores standing empty on Broadway between West 68th Street and 98th Streets. A similar count this month found that there are now 57 shuttered businesses.

Out of the 30 blocks on Broadway between West 68th and 98th Streets, there were four blocks that had three vacant storefronts each.

Gus Saltonstall/Patch
Gus Saltonstall/Patch

See It: 2nd Barred Owl Steals The Show In Riverside Park

While 2020 certainly had its low points, at least one significant positive happened on the Upper West Side during the year — Barred Owls.

Multiple Barred Owls were spotted in Central Park and Riverside Park in 2020.

Barred Owls aren't rare — they live year-round in dense forests in the Northeast. They are, however, unusual to see in parks in the middle of Manhattan.

This article originally appeared on the Upper West Side Patch