Yorkville, Manhattan

Yorkville, Manhattan

Yorkville is a neighborhood within the Upper East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Yorkville's northern, eastern and western boundaries include: the East River on the east, 96th Street (where Spanish Harlem begins) on the north, Third Avenue on the west and 79th Street to the south. However, its southern boundary is a subject of debate. Some sources and natives consider 59th Street to be the southern boundary, while others put it as 72nd Street. What is certain is that Yorkville's boundaries have changed over time. At one point, all of what is now called the Upper East Side was Yorkville. Its western half was referred to as "Irishtown." The neighborhood's main artery, East 86th Street, was sometimes called the "German Broadway." Its ZIP codes are 10021, 10028, 10075 and 10128.Fact|date=April 2008 Yorkville is advocated for by Manhattan Community Board 8.


For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Yorkville was a middle to working-class neighborhood, inhabited by many people of Albanian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Polish, and Slovak descent. While most of the neighborhood's ethnic establishments have closed, a number remain. Many of the area's long-time residents still live in Yorkville.

Many of Yorkville's original German residents moved to the area from "Kleindeutschland" on the Lower East Side of Manhattan after the General Slocum disaster on June 15, 1904. The ship caught fire in the East River just off the shores of Yorkville. Most of the passengers on the ship were German. [Collins, Glenn. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE4DA1F31F93BA35755C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 " A 100-Year-Old Horror, Through 9/11 Eyes; In the Sinking of the Slocum, a Template For the Arc of a City's Grief and Recovery"] , "The New York Times", June 8, 2004. Accessed November 20, 2007. "The disaster helped accelerate the flight of Germans from the Lower East Side to Yorkville and other neighborhoods, although there were other motivations as well. "The very dense old housing on the Lower East Side was no longer attractive to upwardly mobile Germans," said Dr. John Logan, director of the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the State University of New York at Albany."] [Strausbaugh, John. [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/14/arts/14expl.html?_r=1&oref=slogin "Paths of Resistance in the East Village"] , "The New York Times", September 14, 2007. Accessed December 29, 2007. "On June 15, 1904, about 1,200 people from St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (323 Sixth Street, between First and Second Avenues, the site of the Community Synagogue since 1940) died when the steamship the General Slocum, taking them on a day trip up the East River, burned. It was the deadliest disaster in the city before Sept. 11, 2001. It traumatized the community and hastened residents’ flight to uptown areas like Yorkville."]

The Bohemian Boulevard was 72nd Street. The Bohemians were considered the Czechs, Poles and Slovaks who lived from 65th Street to 73rd Street. Besides Ruc, a Czech restaurant off Second Avenue, there were sokol halls on 67th and 71st Streets. These halls were the gathering places for those who enjoyed good food, gymnastics, theater and ballroom dancing (especially polkas). [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E3D81639F930A35754C0A965948260 "Letters; Yorkville Recalled"] , "The New York Times", July 3, 1983] In addition, there were other Czech and Slovak businesses, such as Praha restaurant on First Avenue and 73rd street, Vašata Restaurant on Second Avenue and 74th street, as well as Czech butcher shops, poultry and grocery stores, and shops that sold imported goods such as Bohemian books, leather products and crystal.

The Hungarian Boulevard was 79th Street, a hub for the Austro-Hungarian populace from 75th Street to 83rd Street. Popular restaurants included the Viennese Lantern, Tokay, Hungarian Gardens, Budapest and the Debrechen. There were also a number of butcher stores and businesses that imported goods from Hungary, a few of which still exist. Churches included St. Stephen (82nd St.) Catholic Church and the Hungarian Reformed Church on East 82nd Street, all of which still exist.

The Irish were scattered throughout Yorkville. They attended mass at such churches as St. Ignatius Loyola on 84th St. and Park Avenue, Our Lady of Good Counsel (90th St.) and the Church of St. Joseph (87th St). There were many Irish bars including Finnegan's Wake, Ireland's 32, O'Brien's and Kinsale Tavern (still in existence). Until the late 1990s, the St. Patrick's Day Parade ended at 86th Street and Third Avenue, the historical center of Yorkville.

The German Boulevard was 86th Street, attracting the German populace from 84th to 90th Streets. Popular restaurants included Die Lorelei, Cafe Mozart and the Gloria Palast. The Palast had a German movie theater on the main floor. The rest of the building contained ballrooms for waltzing and polka dancing. All this is now gone, replaced by fast-food stores, boutiques and other shops. Other restaurants included Kleine Konditorei, serving some of the finest German pastries in New York, and the coffee shop-style Ideal Restaurant.

In the 1930s, the neighborhood was the home base of Fritz Kuhn's German American Bund, the most notorious pro-Nazi group in 1930s America. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE2D61F3AF930A15754C0A96F948260 "IF YOU'RE THINKING OF LIVING IN: Yorkville"] , "The New York Times", July 3, 1989] As a result of their presence, Yorkville in this period was the scene of fierce street battles between pro- and anti-Nazi Germans and German-Americans. Today there are few remnants of Yorkville's German origins (Schaller & Weber grocery shop, Heidelberg Restaurant and a German church,Orwasher's bakery), Glaser's Bakery, but it has largely become an upper middle class residential neighborhood. Since the 1990s, Old World merchants, such as the Elk Candy Company, Kleine Konditorei bakery and Bremen House market (all German), as well as the Rigo bakery and Mocca restaurant (Hungarian) have closed. The Steuben Parade, one of the largest German-American celebrations in the US, still winds its way through the neighborhood, however.

Modern times

Yorkville's natives value its long history. There are very few chic clubs in the area, but one holdover from earlier days, however, is Brandy's Saloon, a popular 84th Street piano bar dating from the speak-easy era of the 1920s. Brandy's is host to large crowds each year after the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

There is a bit of a student presence due to the Fordham Graduate Housing buildings on 81st street between York and East End. Although the Fordham Graduate Schools are located on the West Side, the University purchased the buildings on 81st street to provide a safe area for graduate students. In fact, because it is isolated from the subway, east Yorkville is quite affordable, and many young people live between 1st avenue and East End Avenue. It has jokingly been called the "Dorm District" by some young residents, due to the large amount of students living in the same apartment buildings because of their inability to receive housing in a college dormitory. Many of the students attend the nearby Hunter College, but the low rents, safe neighborhood and close proximity to Central Park attracts students from colleges such as Berkeley College, New York Film Academy and American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Yorkville includes Gracie Mansion, the official home of the mayor of New York City, and Carl Schurz Park. And Yorkville is also the birthplace of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, circa 1920, founded by eleven local business men.

In the novels "The Godfather Returns" and "The Godfather's Revenge" by Mark Winegardner, Michael Corleone's penthouse is in Yorkville

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Yorkville include:
*Robert F. Wagner (1877-1953) US Senator who sponsored Social Security, labor relations, and anti-lynching legislation.
*Bob Cousy (1928-), basketball player who played most of his career for the Boston Celtics. [Lubasch, Arnold H. "Cousy Is Considering Retirement; Celtics' Star Cites Difficulty Getting 'Up' for Games Plays Last Garden Contest of Season Next Tuesday", "The New York Times", February 26, 1961.]
*James Cagney (1899-1986), actor, grew up in the neighborhood.
*Lou Gehrig (1903-1941), "Pride of the Yankees" was born here.
*Marx Brothers lived here at 179 East 93rd Street.Strausbaugh, John. [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/arts/14expl.html?scp=1&sq=yorkville++%2259th+street%22&st=nyt "In the Mansion Land of the ‘Fifth Avenoodles’"] , "The New York Times", December 14, 2007. Accessed January 30, 2008.] [cite book | author=Marx, Harpo | title=Harpo Speaks! | publisher=Limelight Editions | year=1962 | id=ISBN 0-87910-036-2]
*Barack Obama (1961-), lived here the early 1980s before and after his graduation from Columbia University. [cite web
last = Lee
first = Jennifer 8.
title = Where Obama Lived in 1980s New York
publisher = New York Times (City Room)
date = January 30, 2008
url = http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/30/where-obama-lived-in-1980s-new-york/
format = blog entry
accessdate = 2008-01-30
*Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) author, lived on East 85th Street, between East End and York Avenues.


ee also

* Manhattan Hungarian network

External links

* [http://yorkvillehistory.org The Yorkville Historical Society]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE2D61F3AF930A15754C0A96F948260 1989 New York Times article on changes in Yorkville]
* [http://www.observer.com/node/39189 2006 "New York Observer" article on changes in Yorkville]

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