Where Morningside Is Actually a College Town

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Morningside Heights likes to pretend that it is a college town. In recent years, that has been an increasingly difficult image to maintain: there’s about a bank per block between 110th and 116th Streets, and many independently owned stores have closed in the last few years to make room for big chains like Chipotle and Ricky’s. Bwog’s been around for a while (your editor has lived here for 20 years), and we know it hasn’t always looked like this. But before we get all Lower East Side on you, there’s hope! There are still several independently-owned Morningside oldies worth your business. Go to them!

Samad’s: Delicious Middle Eastern (especially Lebanese) goods, a deli with hummus, tabbouleh, Greek salad, delicious muffins,  and exceptionally nice people. You can have a decent lunch here for $5. And people who actually live here like to shop here. West side of Broadway between 111th and 112th.

Janoff’s: Mostly frequented by Architecture majors. Shop here for all your art supplies. Weirdly inspiring for theme parties. Been in the ‘hood for decades. East side of Broadway between 111th and 112th.

University Hardware/Housewares: Every kind of hook imaginable for your dorm needs, cutlery, furniture, fans, everything. Incredibly helpful and nice staff that makes move-in ten thousand times easier. West side of Broadway and 113th.

Mondel: You never really see anyone in here, but it’s managed to stay in business longer than any Morningside shop that Bwog’s parents can remember. Old-timey shop, decent chocolates. West side of Broadway between 113th and 114th.

West Side Stationers/Ivy League Stationers: Morningside mini-chain (there are two locations, one at 108th and Broadway, the other at 116th and Broadway) that’s actually worth frequenting. Good deals on school supplies, helpful staff. 108th location gets less business but has a slightly larger variety of goods.

Book Culture/Book Culture on Broadway: Another lil’ Morningside chain. We know you use it to buy your textbooks, but the original Book Culture is the only independent bookstore (not a Barnes & Noble) for miles. Go to browse, go for fun. Knowledgeable, helpful staff.

Laurent Ghislaine’s 108th Street Clothing Stand: Cheap and surprisingly good vintage jewelry and clothing, mostly good sweaters and super-cheap old-timey winter coats. Ask to see her incredible collection of earring studs, mostly $3 for a set. About as local and independent as you can get.

Tell us your favorite small Morningside/UWS shops in the comments.

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  1. Ivy League Stationers

    Don't forget the one at Amsterdam and 119th.
    And apparently there's one on Broadway and 100th, but I've never been there.

  2. Anonymous  

    Book Culture used to be a" / rel="nofollow">Labyrinth, which is essentially a college bookstore franchise. They broke off a few years. Not 100% sure why, but having visited the Princeton one, I would guess that it's because Book Culture is the only one that doesn't suck.

    • Book culture  

      The first and only Labyrinth for a long time was at 112th. It expanded to Yale, later to Princeton. In the interim, the owners parted ways, one got the store at 112th (renamed Book Culture now expanded), the other got the name to put wherever he wanted (the other Ivies).

  3. indie =/= cheap  

    University Housewares/Hardware is nice, but unbelievably overpriced.

  4. Escapee

    Janoffs. The last resort of desperate architecture students who need last-minute supplies and don't have time to make the pilgrimage to the much more expansive (yet less expensive) Pearl Paint on Canal or Utrecht Art south of Union Square. The mark-up at Janoffs is obscene and they close early to boot. Yet I kept running to buy supplies at the last minute. Sigh...

  5. Soraya

    1. Roti Roll is local! - they're at 109th and Amsterdam. Bombay Frankies are great drunk snacks at 3am.
    2. Taqueria - best Mexican in Mo Heights!
    3. P&W Sandwich Shop - best sandwiches in a 100-mile radius. Try the Zorba its amazing. And they're red cabbage slaw on the side is decidedly scrumptious.
    4. Pisticci - honestly I consider it among the top Italian restaurants in New York up there with Babbo and Colicchio and Sons. Worth checking out. Fresh ingredients. Local and Organic. Yummy desserts too.
    5. Finally Lion's Head on 109th and Amsterdam is the definition of a local dive bar. Its a place where everybody knows your name. Best kept secret? Dollar beers on Wednesday nights. lots of cu athletes frequent it.

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