Manhattan Neighborhood Guides


Yorkville is a neighborhood on the Upper East side of Manhattan whose boundaries lie between 79th and 96th streets and end at Third Avenue to the West. The eastern border is determined, appropriately enough, by the East River. It was named Yorkville after York Avenue, which runs directly down the middle of the neighborhood. Traditionally a haven for Jewish, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Irish immigrants, Yorkville began as a tight-knit working class community in the early 20th Century. It is still possible to turn a corner and run into a pocket of 'old world' mystique despite the fact that the neighborhood has changed considerably.

Once upon a time, Yorkville was composed of ethnic "strata" or "bands" that extended throughout the neighborhood. Bohemians, or the Czechs, Poles and Slovaks, centered around 72nd street. Bohemian Boulevard, as it was sometimes called, hosted ethnic restaurants and businesses, dance halls and ballrooms (where polkas were particularly popular), as well as the sokol halls (so-called for the Sokol Movement, a Prague founded Czech and Slavic gymnastics organization and youth movement).

The Hungarian Boulevard was 79th and formed the center or hub of New York City Austro-Hungarian population. A few businesses which imported goods from Hungary for the neighborhood residents still exist to this day. Irish-Americans were also scattered throughout Yorkville, to the point that, until the mid-1990s, the St. Patrick's Day Parade reached its endpoint at 86th and Third Avenue.

86th street was the center of the German-American populace in Yorkville. In its heyday, the street hosted a number of German restaurants, including one, the Palast, which had a German movie theater on its main floor, and another, Heidelberg, which is still open today. Together with Glaser's Bakery and the Schaller & Weber Grocery, the cafe is one of the few remaining touches of the old German Boulevard. Another legacy left by the neighborhood is the Steuban Parade, which to this day wends its way through teh neighborhood as part of one of the biggest German-American celebrations taking place in the United States.

During the past decade Yorkville has seen an influx of young residents due to its relative affordability. The neighborhood is noted for its coffee shops and pubs, as well as its rich heritage. However, Yorkville maintains its status as a quiet community (featuring several beautiful brownstoens from the turn of the century, many with wonderful wrought iron railings) centered around Carl Schurz Park, an oasis of calm along the East River. Yorkville's only drawback is its lack of public transportation, however its residents happily trade a longer commute for more affordable housing and a serene living environment at the footsteps of Carl Schurz Park.

Carl Schurz Park is the jewel of Yorkville. Not far from the corner of 86th Street and East End Avenue, the park sits adjacent to Gracie Mansion (the official residence of the New York City mayor), a multi-tiered riot of flowers, grass and trees, with shady nooks and grassy hillocks tied together with wending pathways and staircases of stone. The park also features two excellent dog runs and even hosts a doggie Halloween costume contest in October.

Other landmarks in the neighborhood include Brandy's Saloon, which is a piano bar on 84th street dating back to the 1920s and the speakeasy era. Noted nightlife spots in the area include the aforementioned Heidelberg, as well as Tony Di Napoli, Vespa, Paola's and the East End Bar and Grill (a classic Irish pub with a brass and wood bar). The Auction House and the Trinity Pub provide additional venues for an evening's entertainment, focusing more on the club aspect. A number of novels have also been set in Yorkville, or mention the historic neighborhood. In The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge, Michael Corleone maintains a penthouse in Yorkville. Other, less fictional, residents of the area include the marx Brothers, who lived on 93rd street, Macauley Culkin, who was born in Yorkville, and Barack Obama, who lived in Yorkville in the early 1980s.

Yorkville is convenient to a number of schools, including the famous Chapin School and Brearley School.

While public transportation in Yorkville is sparse, the neighborhood is convenient to the MTA subway's green line (4, 5, 6) and crosstown buses which run along 79th, 86th and 96th streets. For those visiting the area, there are a number of hotels available, such as the Gracie Inn, the Marmara Manhattan and the City Lights Bed and Breakfast.


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