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 led to 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 the United States, 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.
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. The neighborhood became more affluent.
From 1880, Yorkville became a destination for German-born immigrants. However, by the 1900s, many 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, leading family members to move closer to the site of the incident. Most of the passengers on the ship were German. 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 United States, which led to spontaneous protests by other residents. 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.
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. 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.
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…
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.
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.
76th Street between Second and Third Avenues
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Yorkville was 77,942, an increase of 1,174 (1.5%) from the 76,768 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 319.14 acres (129.15 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 244.2 inhabitants per acre (156,300/sq mi).
The median income for a household in Yorkville is almost twice the average for the city, at $85,724.
Police and crime
Yorkville is patrolled by the 19th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 153 East 67th Street. The 19th Precinct ranked 14th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010.
The 19th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 86.0% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 1 murder, 14 rapes, 138 robberies, 147 felony assaults, 227 burglaries, 1,465 grand larcenies, and 71 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Yorkville is located in three primary ZIP Codes. From north to south, they are 10075 (between 76th and 80th Streets), 10028 (between 80th and 86th Streets), and 10128 (north of 86th Street). In addition, 500 East 77th Street in Yorkville has its own ZIP Code, 10162. The United States Postal Service operates three post offices in Yorkville:
The Lycée Français de New York is located on East 75th Street between York and East End Avenues. Further north, East Side Middle School is located on 91st Street between First and Second Avenues. The Trevor Day School is located four blocks north, on 95th Street between First and Second Avenues.
Formerly, Eastern Yorkville was very far from any subway connections, and had among the farthest walks in Manhattan to any subway stations. From 2007 to 2017, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority built Second Avenue Subway's 86th Street and 96th Street stations, leading to increased residential construction and real estate prices in advance of the opening of the new subway line.
Yorkville is served by NYC Ferry's Soundview route, which stops at 92nd Street. The service started operating on August 15, 2018.
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 DumontTele-Centre, then as the Metromedia Telecenter from the 1960s until 1986, after which it became the Fox Television Center.
^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.
^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."
^Hughes, C.J. "Yorkville Bets on the Second Avenue Subway", The New York Times, April 8, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2016. "But the new subway stations at East 72nd, East 86th and East 96th Streets, and the expanded one at East 63rd, seem to be having an equalizing effect on prices in what used to be more of a cotton socks district."
^Bierut, Michael. "Helmut Krone, Period.", Design Observer, August 23, 2006. Accessed May 20, 2016. "Challis's book is filled with this kind of detail. Born in 1925 to immigrant parents in Yorkville, Manhattan's German enclave, he attended the High School for Industrial Art, where he hoped to become a product designer."
^"Comedy Wizard Dies At 72", St. Petersburg Times, December 5, 1967. Accessed May 20, 2016. "Born Bert Lahrheim to an immigrant German family in New York's Yorkville section, Lahr dropped out of school at 15 and joined a child vaudeville troupe."
^Georgette Seabrook Powell, The HistoryMakers, November 8, 2006. Accessed May 20, 2016. "Art therapist, non-profit chief executive, and painter Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell was born on August 2, 1916 in Charleston, South Carolina to Anna and George Seabrooke. Powell grew up in the Yorkville neighborhood of New York City."