info 08.13.14

Yorkville

In the early 19th century, carriage horse drivers used to race each other up Third Avenue for fun, winding up at one of the taverns around 84th Street such as Hazard House (pictured above) and Wintergreen's.

Wintergreen's was known, according to the book Incredible New York: High Life and Low Life from 1850 to 1950, for its sherry flip (3 oz of medium sherry to which you add an egg and a teaspoon of sugar, shake with ice, strain into glass with ice, sprinkle with nutmeg) as well as cobblers, grogs, and hot-buttered rum.

That was during Yorkville's second wave of Germans settling the area—families like the Rupperts and Ehrets (beer) and the Ringlings (circus). The first wave of Germans had come after the Revolutionary War and they were mega-wealthy, like the Rhinelanders (sugar) and the Astors (fur). Each had a sliver of land on the East River and they all built mansions,with the estates fanning out as they went inland.

As coach and rail transportation to the area improved in the mid-1800s, the drag racing possibilities diminished. An increasingly large piece of the area's real estate was taken up by the era of the great breweries such as Jacob Ruppert's and Ehrets.

Yorkville got a sudden population surge following the General Slocum disaster. One weekday in 1904, as it was carrying a Zion St. Mark's Church group along the East River on its way to a picnic, it caught fire, killing 1200 German women and children. Many men were left without a family and they moved from the Lower East Side into the areas around the breweries in Yorkville.

In the early 20th century, East 86th Street was known as the German Broadway, 1st Avenue the Czech Broadway, and 2nd Avenue the Hungarian Broadway (aka Goulash Avenue). York Avenue was named for Sgt. Alvin York, one of the great heroes of WWI.

Most of this has passed into history. A few vestiges:
Schaller & Weber
Heidelberg Restaurant
Zion St. Mark's Church
Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Glaser's Bake Shop











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