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Written by Teodora Gaydarova   

YORKVILLE


Yorkville is a calm and affordable neighbourhood in the Upper East side along the East river that is a great place to stay on the cheap and experience amazing food. The neighbourhood has a rich history and the German, Hungarian, Eastern European and Irish immigrants who inhabited it over the course of the last two centuries have left behind ethnic shops, restaurants and cafes that are quite popular today.


In the past Yorkville was known as Kleindeutschland or Little Germany. As far back as the 18th century, affluent German migrants owned lush farmland in the area. In the 19th century with the arrival of railways and urbanization the population grew, while between the beginning of the 20th century and WWII Yorkville flourished as a true little Germany populated by Germans, Hungarians, Irish and Jews. Ethnic delis, bakeries, cafes, services, cultural and sports clubs catered to the needs of locals, while restaurants, beer gardens and dancehalls gathered people in the evenings. Today the area is much more diverse, while the majority of ethnic businesses and the vibrant cultural life are all but gone. The days when Yorkville was known as Kleindeutschland are still fondly remembered and this is evident in the numerous books and blogs on the history of the neighbourhood and the abundance of web services connecting former residents.


The most obvious traces of Little Germany are the numerous churches and several ethnic markets. The Hungarian Meat Market on Second Avenue is one of the best delis around. Beside home-made salami and sausages prepared after traditional Hungarian recipes here you can also buy eastern European beers, sweets, cheese and other delicatessen. Nearby German meat market Schaller-Weber is yet another unrivalled expert in the preparation of top-notch dried meats where you can sample locally-made and import delicacies. There are a number of excellent Irish, Israeli and German restaurants well worth visiting. The legendary Heidelberg restaurant which first opened doors in the 1930s is still a popular place for mouth-watering meals and for sipping pints in the beer garden.


Yorkville has always been a middle- and working-class residential neighbourhood with lower rental prices. In fact the cheap rents have drawn such a large population of students from a range of Manhattan universities that the area between East End Avenue and First Avenue has been given the moniker Dorm District. Young families, students and recent university graduates are the usual residents. The neighbourhood is safe, quiet and very peaceful with a homey feel and a strong community spirit. Burgeoning interest in constructing luxury tenement blocks and giving old tenements a new makeover, as well as plans for the opening of a new subway line crossing the neighbourhood might change all of that but for the time being Yorkville remains an affordable, youthful neighbourhood with a lot of charm.


Beside the numerous high-rises the area boasts several beautifully preserved period buildings. Twenty-four charming red-brick houses dating back to the late 19th century comprise the so-called Henderson Place historic district. Another major landmark in the area is Gracie Mansion which serves as the official residence of the Mayor of New York and is open to visitors. Those interested in tours should book in advance via the official website. The Mansion is located in the leafy Schurz Park that sits on the East River and is a favourite of locals for picnics, outdoor sports and admiring the riverside views. The Catbird playground is a favourite of little visitors and their parents. Another hugely popular recreational place in the neighbourhood is Asphalt Green, a large sports complex with facilities and courses for the practise of numerous sports.


Yorkville offers access to the rest of New York via the subway, bus service and to those who drive – the FDR Drive.


 

 

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