Yorkville, Manhattan, New York City
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Yorkville is a neighborhood within the Upper East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Roughly speaking, it is bound by 59th Street on the south, the East River on the east, 96th Street (i.e., Spanish Harlem) on the north, and Third Avenue on the west. The neighborhood's main artery, East 86th Street, was sometimes called the "German Broadway." Its ZIP codes are 10021, 10028 and 10128. Yorkville is served 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. More importantly, despite the best efforts of developers, 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 in 1904. The ship caught fire in the East River just off the coast of Yorkville. Most of the passengers on the ship were German.
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 73rd Streets. These halls were the gathering places for those who enjoyed good food, gymnastics, theater and ballroom dancing (especially polkas). In addition, there were other Czech and Slovak businesses, such as Praha restaurant on First Avenue and 73rd street, Vasata 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.) and Saint Elizabeth (83rd St.) of Hungary Catholic Churches 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. 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, Hungarian Meat Market and Delicatessen, 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.
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.
Yorkville includes Gracie Mansion, the official home of the mayor of New York City, and Carl Schurz Park.
Yorkville was the birthplace of baseball legend Lou Gehrig, in 1903. Actor James Cagney also grew up in the neighborhood.
And Yorkville is also the birthplace of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, circa 1920, founded by eleven local business men.
Yorkville was the home of the Marx Brothers at 179 East 93rd Street.
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