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Yorkville, Manhattan

Yorkville, as seen from a highrise on East 87th Street

Yorkville is a neighborhood in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. Its southern boundary is East 79th Street, its northern East 96th Street, its western Third Avenue, and its eastern the East River.[1]

The neighborhood, in Manhattan Community Board 8,[2] is among the most affluent in the city.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Ethnic settlement 1.2
    • Recent history 1.3
  • Demographics 2
  • Education 3
  • Transportation 4
  • Prominent locations 5
  • Notable residents 6
  • In popular culture 7
  • Gallery 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Looking west at 90th Street and Second Avenue

Early history

In August 1776, Continental Army in Manhattan, with many troops in the Yorkville area in defensive positions along the East River to protect the other half of his army if they were to retreat from Brooklyn, and to inflict damage on invading land and sea forces.[3] Following the Battle of Long Island defeat on August 27, the Continentals implemented an orderly pivoting retreat in the Yorkville area, leading the enemy to entice the Continentals to fight by piping "Fly Away", about a fox running away from hounds. The Continentals' disciplined northerly retreat led to the successful Battle of Harlem Heights in September 1776.[4]

In 1815, the Upper East Side was a farmland and market garden district.[5] The Boston Post Road traversed the Upper East Side, locally called the Eastern Post Road; milepost 6 was near the northeast corner of Third Avenue and 81st Street. From 1833 to 1837 the New York and Harlem Railroad, one of the earliest railway systems in America, was extended through the Upper East Side along Fourth Avenue (later renamed Park Avenue).[6] A hamlet grew near the 86th Street station, becoming the Yorkville neighborhood as gradual yet steady commercial development occurred. The current street grid was laid-out between 1839 and 1844 as part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, so the Eastern Post Road was abandoned. The community had been referred to as Yorkville before 1867.[7]

By 1850, a significant proportion of the inhabitants of the area were the Germans and the Irish that helped build the Croton Aqueduct.[8] The area was included in the 19th administrative district whose boundaries were 40th and 86th Street.[9] In 1858, trams were built along Second and Third Avenues. After the American Civil War, mansions replaced slums in Yorkville.[9] On December 30, 1878, the IRT Third Avenue Line opened, followed by the IRT Second Avenue Line in August 1879.[10]

Ethnic settlement

For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Yorkville was a middle- to working-class neighborhood, inhabited by many people of Czech, Slovak, Irish, Polish, German, Hungarian, and Lebanese descent. The area was a mostly German enclave, though.[11] The neighborhood became more affluent.[12]

From 1880 Yorkville became the preferred residential area for German-born immigrants. However, by the 1900s, many of Yorkville's original German residents moved to Yorkville and other neighborhoods from "Kleindeutschland" (Little Germany) on the Lower East Side 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.[13][14] In addition, the general trend towards moving to the suburbs reduced the German population in Manhattan; by 1930, most German New Yorkers lived in Queens.

On 86th Street, in the central portion of Yorkville, there were many German shops, restaurants and bakeries. Yorkville became the melting pot of populations arriving from various regions of the Prussian-dominated German Empire and its colonies, where many cultures spoke German. In the 1930s, the neighborhood was the home base of Fritz Julius Kuhn's German American Bund, the most notorious pro-Nazi group in 1930s America, which led to spontaneous protests by other residents.[15] Yorkville was a haven for refugees from fascist Germany in the 1940s, and from refugees from communist regimes in the 1950s and 1960s. The neighborhood is the site of the annual Steuben Parade, a large German-American celebration.[16]

The largest non-German group were the Irish.[17] Irish mostly lived in an area bounded by 81st and 85th Streets, and Lexington and Fifth Avenues. They attended mass at such churches as St. Ignatius Loyola on 84th Street and Park Avenue, Our Lady of Good Counsel (90th Street) and the Church of St. Joseph (87th Street). There were many Irish bars including Finnegan's Wake, Dorrian's Red Hand Restaurant, Ireland's 32, Carrol's Hideaway, O'Brien's and Kinsale Tavern. Until the late 1990s, New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade ended at 86th Street and Third Avenue, the historical center of Yorkville.[18] In addition, Jews also lived on Second Avenue.[10]

79th Street was a hub for the Austro-Hungarian populace. Popular restaurants included the Viennese Lantern, Tokay, Hungarian Gardens, Robert Heller's Cafe Abazzia at 2nd Avenue, Budapest and the Debrechen.[19] There were also a number of butcher stores and businesses that imported goods from Hungary. Churches included St. Stephen Catholic Church and the Hungarian Reformed Church on East 82nd Street. In addition, Czechs, Poles and Slovaks lived from 65th to 73rd Street. Besides Ruc, a Czech restaurant off Second Avenue, there were sokol halls on 67th and 71st Streets. There were other Czech and Slovak businesses, such as Czech butcher shops, poultry and grocery stores, and shops that sold imported goods such as Bohemian books, leather products and crystal.[19]

Recent history

A sidewalk clock on 1501 Third Avenue

Around the late 1920s, Yorkville's ethnic diversity was beginning to wane. In 1926, the New York Times wrote of Yorkville's changing ethnic makeup:

Yorkville, for well-nigh two decades known to connoisseurs of east side life as the exclusive domain of Czechoslovaks, Hungarians and Germans, is slowly giving up its strongly accentuated Central European character and gradually merging into a state of colorless impersonality…[9]

In 1928, a one-block section of Sutton Place north of 59th Street, and all of Avenue A north of that point, was renamed York Avenue to honor U.S. Army Sergeant Alvin York, who received the Medal of Honor for attacking a German machine gun nest during World War I's Meuse-Argonne Offensive.[20][21][22]

The dismantling of the Third Avenue El in 1955 led to the demolition of many mansions. This led to the acceleration of the exodus of Yorkville residents. Over the years, this trend continued. Thus, in the 1980s, a building for members of the German gymnastic society Turners, at the intersection of 86th Street and Lexington Avenue, was demolished. Cafe Mozart, on 86th Street between Second and Third Avenues, was also demolished. In their place were built high-rise residential complexes.[10][19]

By the turn of the 21st century, East 82nd Street was co-named St. Stephen of Hungary Way. The area from East 79th to 83rd Streets, spanning approximately four blocks east-west, is colloquially known as Little Hungary.[23]


76th Street between Second and Third Avenues

The area of Yorkville is 1.68 square miles (4.4 km2). The population is 75,536 as of 2014.[24]

According to a 2009 census, there were 76,833 residents. The population density was approximately 45,734 people per square mile, which is slightly more than half of Manhattan's entire population density. In terms of race and ethnicity, more than 75% of residents were white. The median income for a household in Yorkville is almost twice the average for the city, at $85,724.[25]


The New York City Department of Education operates several public schools in the area.

The City University of New York has its administrative offices in Yorkville.[26]

Fordham Graduate Housing is located on East 81st Street between York and East End Avenues.[27]


There are currently no operating subway stations in Yorkville itself. Western Yorkville is served by 77th Street, 86th Street and 96th Street stations on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line of the New York City Subway, one block west of Yorkville's western boundary at 3rd Avenue.[28] As of March 2015, bus routes M15, M15 SBS, M31, M72, M79, M86, M96, M98, M101, M102, M103 of the New York City Bus also operate in Yorkville.[29]

Eastern Yorkville is very far from any subway connections, and has among the farthest walks in Manhattan to any subway stations.[11] As part of the Second Avenue Subway, the 86th Street and 96th Street stations are under construction in Yorkville under Second Avenue to make eastern Yorkville more convenient to the subway.

Prominent locations

Carl Schurz Park in summer
  • Carl Schurz Park is a small park on the far east side of Yorkville, near the East River.
  • The Fox Television Center is the studios of WNYW, the local Fox Broadcasting station. They have been here since 1954, first as the Dumont Tele-Centre, then as the Metromedia Telecenter from the 1960s until 1986, after which it became the Fox Television Center.
  • Gracie Mansion is the official home of the mayor of New York City.
  • The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce was founded in Yorkville circa 1920, founded by 11 local businessmen.[30]
  • The Municipal Asphalt Plant was constructed in 1941.[31] Asphalt Green, a fitness center, opened in the building in 1984.[32]
  • The 91st Street Marine Transfer Station[33] is a controversial waste transfer plant being planned next to Asphalt Green, at York Avenue. The waste facility is supported by New York City mayors Bill de Blasio[34] and Michael Bloomberg. The waste facility has been criticized by some area residents.[35]

Notable residents

Residents of Yorkville have included:

  • Bob Cousy (born 1928), professional basketball player[36]
  • James Cagney (1899–1986), actor, grew up in the neighborhood.[15]
  • Lou Gehrig (1903–1941), Major League Baseball player, was born at 309 East 94th Street.[37]
  • Norma Kamali (born 1945), fashion designer, grew up and went to school in Yorkville[38]
  • Bert Lahr (1895–1967), American actor (the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz[39]
  • The Marx Brothers, comedians, lived at 179 East 93rd Street.[40][41]
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (born 1961), lived in the early 1980s at 339 East 94th Street, before and after his graduation from Columbia University.[42][43]
  • Martin J. Scott (1865–1954), Jesuit author, a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Church from 1902 to 1915
  • Robert F. Wagner (1877–1953), U.S. Senator, after whom the middle school at 220 East 76th Street is named
  • Multiple mayors have lived at Gracie Mansion.

In popular culture



  1. ^ Hughes, C. J. (June 1, 2008). "Living in Yorkville: Where Change Is Underfoot, and Overhead".  
  2. ^ "MANHATTAN COMMUNITY DISTRICT 8". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  3. ^
  4. ^  
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Happy Birthday to the New York & Harlem Railroad – 180 years!". I Ride The Harlem Line. April 25, 2011. 
  7. ^¬word=&d=&c=&f=&k=1&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&sort=&total=20&num=0&imgs=20&pNum=&pos=14
  8. ^ Croton-On-Hudson Historical Society (2001). Images of America Series. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 41, 128.  
  9. ^ a b c "Yorkville Bank: Early History and Development of Yorkville". Landmarks Preservation Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  10. ^ a b c Jackson, Kenneth T. (ed.), (2010) The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd edition). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2, p. 1428
  11. ^ a b "Yorkville vs. Park Slope: See how these New York City neighborhoods stack up". NY Daily News. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Gerald Handel (2000). Making a Life in Yorkville: Experience and Meaning in the Life-Course Narrative of an Urban Working-Class Man. Contributions in Sociology Series, 130; ABC-Clio ebook (Greenwood Publishing Group). pp. 1, 149.  
  13. ^ Collins, Glenn (June 8, 2004). "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".  
  14. ^ Strausbaugh, John (September 14, 2007). "Paths of Resistance in the East Village".  
  15. ^ a b Noble, Barbara Presley (July 23, 1989). "If You're Thinking of Living In: Yorkville".  
  16. ^ David W. Dunlap (April 19, 2008). "In the Heart of Yorkville, Life Has Changed for German Catholics".  
  17. ^ "The History of Yorkville" by Kathryn A. Jolowicz
  18. ^ "A Guide To The NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade", CBS New York, March 15, 2013
  19. ^ a b c "Letters; Yorkville Recalled".  
  20. ^ Gray, Christopher. " Streetscapes/Sutton Place, Sutton Place South and One Sutton Place North; A Prestigious Enclave With a Name in Question", The New York Times, September 21, 2003. Accessed December 27, 2007.
  21. ^ Pollak, Michael. "F. Y. I.", The New York Times, August 7, 2005. Accessed October 16, 2007. "In 1928, Sutton Place from 59th to 60th Street, and Avenue A north of 60th, were renamed York Avenue in honor of Sgt. Alvin C. York (1887–1964), a World War I hero from Tennessee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor."
  22. ^ During his attack on October 8, 1918, York captured four German officers and 128 men and several guns. "Medal of Honor Recipients – World War I".  
  23. ^ "Little Hungary", Forgotten New York
  24. ^ Yorkville, New York, NY Lifestyle & Demographics
  25. ^ -New-York-NY.html "Yorkville neighborhood in New York, New York (NY)" . Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  26. ^ "Administrative Offices." City University of New York. Retrieved on May 4, 2010.
  27. ^ History of The Upper East Side and Yorkville,
  28. ^ "Road Map of Manhattan, New York". Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2013. 
  29. ^ [http:// www. "Manhattan Bus Map"] (PDF). Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  30. ^ "History of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce". October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2009. 
  31. ^ Marjorie Pearson and Elizabeth Spencer-Ralph (October 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Municipal Asphalt Plant".  
  32. ^ Asphalt Green Gym Is Nearly All Roof, and It's Leaky
  33. ^ NYC East 91st Waste Facility
  34. ^ "After deliberation, de Blasio supports the Upper East Side waste facility again". Capital New York. 2013-05-31. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  35. ^ "Opponents to File Lawsuit in Fight Against E 91st Street Trash Facility". DNA Info. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (February 26, 1961). "Cousy Is Considering Retirement".  
  37. ^ "Plaque for Gehrig's Birthplace".  
  38. ^ "Longtime Fashion Designer Norma Kamali Infuses Her Work With Accessibility, Empowerment" by Budd Mishkin, One On 1, April 30, 2012
  39. ^|19820/Bert-Lahr/ "Bert Lahr"], Turner Classic Movies
  40. ^ Strausbaugh, John (December 14, 2007). "'"In the Mansion Land of the 'Fifth Avenoodles.  
  41. ^ Marx, Harpo (1962). Harpo Speaks!. Limelight Editions.  
  42. ^ Lee, Jennifer 8. (January 30, 2008). "Where Obama Lived in 1980s New York".  
  43. ^ John Freeman Gill (2012-11-16). "More Small Dogs and Big Home Prices". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  44. ^  

External links

  • The Yorkville Kleindeutschland Historical Society
  • German Traces NYC from the Goethe-Institut
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