“Little Bohemia” has been the name of a section of Yorkville (in Manhattan) since at least the 1890s. East 72nd Street or East 73rd Street has been called “Bohemian Boulevard” or “Bohemian Broadway” since at least 1895. Today’s Czech influence in Yorkville has diminished; the names are largely historical.
Other ethnically named streets in Yorkville include German Broadway or German Boulevard (East 86th Street) and Hungarian Boulevard or Hungarian Broadway (East 79th Street).
Wikipedia: 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. 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.
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). 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. 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.
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.
5 August 1895, Omaha (NE) World Herald, “A Colony of Bohemians: Large Numbers of Foreigners in New York and Bohemia Furnishes Its Share,’ pg. 8:
Fulyl two-thirds of the Bohemians in New York live between Fifty-ninth and Seventy-ninth streets and First avenue and Avenue A.(...) Seventy-third street, from First avenue to Avenue A, is a typical street, and so thoroughly Bohemian that it is known in the neighborhood as the Bohemian Broadway.
New York (NY) Times
THE REAL BOHEMIA A PLACE OF THRIFT
It Lies Between Sixty-fifth and Seventy-ninth Streets, Second Avenue and East River.
30,000 BOHEMIANS THERE
They Have Everything but a Pawnshop—Cigarmakers by Day Are Actors at Night—Publish Two Daily Papers.
January 9, 1908, Thursday
Page 2, 658 words
There is a real Bohemia in New York. It is far from Broadway and the neighborhood of Washington Square, and its characteristics favor hard work and thrift rather than song and good fellowship, born of poverty and the wine cup. It is Bohemia for the best and the dullest of reasons—the Bohemians themselves live there.
Along First Avenue, from Seventieth to Seventy-ninth Street—Bohemian Broadway, as it is called in the district—nearly every store window displays the sign “Chesky Obschol,” or “Bohemian Spoken Here.”
We Who Built America:
The Saga of the Immigrant
By Carl Frederick Wittke
Published by Prentice-Hall, 1945
First Avenue from 65th to 75th Streets is popularly known as “Bohemian Broadway.”
12 January 1975, New York (NY) Times, “Bubble On, O Melting Pot!” by Richard Peck, pg. 8:
Yorkville earned its German reputation between the wars. Then as now, ethnics and others drank Gerolsteiner sprudle and forked Dobosch torte at Cafe Geiger, Cafe Hindenburg and the Kleine Konditorei on 86th Street, “German Broadway.”
The side streets still speak of other equally firm ethnic entrenchment. The Hungarians established themselves south of the Germans, from 59th to 76th Streets, after 1900. The Czechs created “Little Bohemia” along Second Avenue in the lower 70’s. After Czechoslovakian independence in 1918, the downtown Slovaks joined them.
New York (NY) Times
Letters: Yorkville Recalled
Published: July 3, 1983
To the Editor:
Having read your article entitled ‘’If you’re thinking of living in Yorkville’’ (May 22), I would like to share my wonderful memories of the neighborhood, where I spent the early years of my life from 1922 to 1947, with the exception of three years in the Army during World War II.
Each of three streets crossing Yorkville had an ethnic flavor of its own.
The Bohemian Boulevard was 72d Street. The Bohemians were considered the Czechs, Poles and Slovaks who lived from 65th Street to 73d Street. Besides Ruk, a Czech restaurant, there were sokol halls on 67th and 73d Streets. These halls were the gathering places for those who enjoyed good food, gymnastics, theater and ballroom dancing (especially polkas).
The Hungarian Boulevard was 79th Street, a hub for the Austro-Hungarian populace from 75th Street to 83d Street. The restaurants with which I was most familiar were the Viennese Lantern, Tokay, Hungarian Gardens and the Debrechen. Besides the great food, we had Viennese waltzes and the czardas. These restaurants no longer exist.
The German Boulevard was 86th Street, attracting the German populace from 84th to 90th Streets. Besides the restaurants mentioned in the article, we had 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.
THEODORE A. BODNAR, Staten Island
New York City Walking Tours (April 26, 2008)
The Czechoslovak Heritage of the Upper East Side with Joe Svehlak
Until the 1960s, Yorkville was noted for its German, Hungarian, and Czechoslovak enclaves. A half-mile stretch of First Avenue was known as “Bohemian Broadway” with its many shops, businesses, and restaurants catering to a Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak community that - after World War II - numbered over 40,000 people. Even the cops on the beat spoke Czech! Today, not many Czechs or Slovaks live in the neighborhood, but surprisingly several of their community buildings still survive.