“Little Germany” (Kleindeutschland) was originally located on Manhattan’s lower east side. The German community there was devasted by the 1904 Slocum ship tragedy; gradually, “Little Germany” moved uptown to Yorkville.
Yorkville’s East 86th Street has long been called “German Broadway” or “German Boulevard.” Yorkville’s German population has steadily decreased; these names are largely historical today.
Other ethnically named streets in Yorkville include Bohemian Boulevard or Bohemian Broadway (East 72nd 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.
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
Little Germany: Ethnicity, Religion, and Class in New York City, 1845-80
By Stanley Nadel
Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press
Avenue B, occasionally called the German Broadway, was the commercial artery.
New York (NY) Times
86th Street Loses German Holdout And Its Marzipan
By ROSALIE R. RADOMSKY
Published: April 6, 1997
Customers spilled out of Elk Candy onto the sidewalk in front of 240 East 86th Street a week before Easter. More than 500 a day were coming for homemade marzipan and chocolate confections—bunnies, eggs and pigs. A sign in the window said the 64-year-old shop was closing for good.
‘’The line wouldn’t break,’’ said Anton Lulgjuraj, the 24-year-old owner, who inherited the shop from his father.
All that was left on the shelves that bleak, snowy afternoon were paper doilies and a few boxes of prepackaged chocolates. Relatives and friends helped him clean up and move fixtures and machinery into storage.
Elk, which closed last Monday, was the last holdout of the Montgomery, a row of four-story tenements built in 1883, and the penultimate vestige of German Broadway, as East 86th Street was known. Dozens of German establishments, including Kleine Konditorei, Cafe Geiger, the Lorelei dance hall, the Platzl restaurant and Cafe Wienecke, are gone. Only Ideal Restaurant is left on 86th Street, between First and Second Avenues, where it relocated two years ago after a fire. Several German establishments remain in other parts of Yorkville.
The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People, and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present
By James Trager
New York, NY: HarperCollins
Pg. 769 (1984):
The 40-year-old Bavarian Inn at 232 East 86th Street closes in December. Yorkville’s “German Broadway” has begun to lose its ethnic character.
The Historical Atlas of New York City:
A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City’s History
By Eric Homberger
New York, NY: Macmillan
Pg. 98 ("Kleindeutschland"):
Avenue B (known as “German Broadway") was the main commercial street of Kleindeutschland, lined with small shops and basement factories.
Baltimore (MD) Sun
From AM New York
Bread shop outlasts ‘German Broadway’
By Farnoosh Torabi | Special to amNewYork
August 28, 2006
When a young Abram Orwasher was growing up in a tenement building on East 77th Street in the 1960s, the streets of Yorkville overflowed with the fresh aroma of red paprika and garlic. His mom’s local Hungarian butcher spoke broken English, and “German Broadway,” on the eastern strip of 86th Street, was still largely German.
Today, the once working class German-Hungarian neighborhood of Yorkville on the Upper East Side, bound roughly by East 78th street to 96th Street between the East River and Third Avenue, is a mostly upper-middle class district of residents from all over. Over the past decade, long-time Yorkville businesses like the well-known Breman House Market and Mokka Restaurant have shut down.
“It’s been a gradual change. The generation of old died or moved away,” said Orwasher, whose parents were Hungarian-Austrian.
He is still holding on to the community, running Orwasher’s Handmade Bread on 308 E. 78th St., an Upper East Side staple since his grandfather opened the shop in 1916 in the same location.
Volume 77 / Number 36 - Feb. 06 - 12, 2008
Egg creams and a ‘Creamy’ dance for Avenue A’s Ray
By Christopher J. Ryan
Seventy-five years old…50 more to go! So said Ray Alvarez, proprietor of Ray’s Candy Shop on Avenue A as he watched “Creamy Stevens” strip off her clothes in honor of his 75th birthday. Her high heels clicked away on Ray’s well-worn counter as her white-gloved hands touched the ornate tin ceiling for balance.
The soda shop’s customers enjoyed the burlesque tassels that spun with skill perhaps only a 75-year-old egg cream jockey could truly appreciate.
“Two dogs and one $3 French fries,” stated an inebriated young man, getting more of a show than he bargained for before grabbing some food to take to his friends in a nearby bar. Ray’s tiny sliver of a store, located between Seventh and Eighth Sts., overlooks Tompkins Square Park and has been serving hot dogs and egg creams for longer than even the most hardcore, old-school Alphabet City crowd can remember.
Ray remembers when Avenue A was considered the “German Broadway,” long before it evolved into its current status as a hipster highway.
Catholic News Service (April 19, 2008)
German sweets beckon outside church welcoming Bavarian-born pope
By Angelo Stagnaro
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS)—As people milled about outside St. Joseph’s Church in New York awaiting the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for an evening prayer service April 18, they couldn’t help but notice the windows of Glaser’s Bake Shop overflowing with Teutonic confectionary decadence.
Amid the overflowing shelves of “apfelkuchen” and cheesecake, black ‘n’ white cookies and Bavarian cream pies stood Herb Glaser, 55, the most recent person in charge of a very old family business.
Glaser has been a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Church since he was a small boy, when he sang in the choir and assisted on the altar.
St. Joseph’s in the Yorkville section of Manhattan was chosen for the ecumenical prayer service with the German-born pope because of its German ties. The church was established in 1873 to serve the needs of German immigrants.
Located right around the corner from the church, Glaser’s Bake Shop proudly carries on the last vestige of old Germany in New York.
John Herbert Glaser, Herb’s grandfather, first opened Glaser’s Bake Shop in 1902. Originally, the bakery only baked bread, 24 hours a day. Since then, the bakery has greatly expanded its confectionary offerings.
“The family has always been a part of St. Joseph’s Parish. I received all of my sacraments there,” said Herb Glaser. “My whole family is still close to the church.”
“We used to have a lot more Germans here in Yorkville than we are now, but still there’s a presence,” he added. “We even have a German Mass every Sunday.”
Yorkville, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, runs from 79th to 96th Streets and from the East River to Third Avenue. Most of Yorkville’s original German residents moved to Yorkville from Kleindeutschland on Manhattan’s Lower East Side after the General Slocum disaster June 15, 1904.
More than 1,000 German-Americans were killed when the steamship, carrying them on an annual outing from a Lutheran church on the Lower East Side, caught fire and burned to the waterline in the East River.
Eighty-sixth Street, which is still referred to as “the German Boulevard,” is the principal thoroughfare along which the Steuben Parade, one of America’s largest and oldest German-American celebrations, travels.
That bohemian characteristic, though it may not be that sophisticated, it still is kind of fascinating...!