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.
17th and 18th centuries
In August 1776, George Washington stationed half of his 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. 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 created the successful Battle of Harlem Heights in September 1776.
In 1815, the Upper East Side was a farmland and market garden district. 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). 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.
19th and 20th centuries
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 neighborhood became more affluent.
Many of Yorkville's original German residents moved to Yorkville and other neighborhoods from "Kleindeutschland" (Little Germany) 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.
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.
The largest non-German group were the Irish. 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.
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. 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.
At 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.
Yorkville includes Gracie Mansion, the official home of the mayor of New York City, and Carl Schurz Park on its east side. Yorkville is also the birthplace of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, circa 1920, founded by 11 local businessmen.
The studios of WNYW, the local Fox Broadcasting station, 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.
The New York City Department of Education operates public schools in the area.
Residents of Yorkville have included:
- Robert F. Wagner (1877–1953), U.S. Senator after whom the middle school at 220 East 76th Street is named
- Martin J. Scott (1865-1954), Jesuit author, a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Church from 1902-1915
- Bert Lahr (1895–1967), American actor (the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz
- James Cagney (1899–1986), actor, grew up in the neighborhood.
- Lou Gehrig (1903–1941), Major League Baseball player, was born at 309 East 94th Street.
- The Marx Brothers, comedians, lived at 179 East 93rd Street.
- Bob Cousy (born 1928), professional basketball player
- President Barack Obama (born 1961), lived in the early 1980s at 339 East 94th Street, before and after his graduation from Columbia University.
- Norma Kamali (born 1945), fashion designer, grew up and went to school in Yorkville
In popular culture
- Hughes, C. J. (June 1, 2008). "Living in Yorkville: Where Change Is Underfoot, and Overhead". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
- "Happy Birthday to the New York & Harlem Railroad – 180 years!". I Ride The Harlem Line. April 25, 2011.
- 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". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2007.
The disaster helped accelerate the flight of Germans from the Lower East Side to Yorkville and other neighborhoods, although there were other motivations as well. 'The very dense old housing on the Lower East Side was no longer attractive to upwardly mobile Germans,' said Dr. John Logan, director of the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the State University of New York at Albany.
- Strausbaugh, John (September 14, 2007). "Paths of Resistance in the East Village". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
On June 15, 1904, about 1,200 people from St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (323 Sixth Street, between First and Second Avenues, the site of the Community Synagogue since 1940) died when the steamship the General Slocum, taking them on a day trip up the East River, burned. It was the deadliest disaster in the city before Sept. 11, 2001. It traumatized the community and hastened residents’ flight to uptown areas like Yorkville.
- 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.
- 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."
- During his on October 8, 1918, attack, York captured four German officers and 128 men and several guns. "Medal of Honor Recipients - World War I". United States Army Center of Military History.
- "The History of Yorkville" by Kathryn A. Jolowicz
- "A Guide To The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade", CBS New York, March 15, 2013
- Noble, Barbara Presley (July 23, 1989). "If You're Thinking of Living In: Yorkville". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "Little Hungary", Forgotten New York
- "History of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce". October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- "Administrative Offices." City University of New York. Retrieved on May 4, 2010.
- http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/107296%7C19820/Bert-Lahr/ "Bert Lahr"], Turner Classic Movies
- "Plaque for Gehrig's Birthplace". The Miami News. Associated Press. August 22, 1953. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- Strausbaugh, John (December 14, 2007). "In the Mansion Land of the 'Fifth Avenoodles'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
- Marx, Harpo (1962). Harpo Speaks!. Limelight Editions. ISBN 0-87910-036-2.
- Lubasch, Arnold H. (February 26, 1961). "Cousy Is Considering Retirement". The New York Times. p. S7. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- Lee, Jennifer 8. (January 30, 2008). "Where Obama Lived in 1980s New York". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
- "Longtime Fashion Designer Norma Kamali Infuses Her Work With Accessibility, Empowerment" by Budd Mishkin, One On 1, April 30, 2012
- Puzo, Mario. The Godfather's Revenge. p. 94. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- 2006 New York Observer article on changes in Yorkville
- "Letters: Yorkville Recalled" by Theodore A. Bodnar, Staten Island, July 3, 1983, The New York Times
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yorkville, Manhattan.|
- The Yorkville Kleindeutschland Historical Society
- German Traces NYC from the Goethe-Institut
- NYC East 91st Waste Facility