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History of The Upper East Side and Yorkville

For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Yorkville was a middle to working-class neighborhood, inhabited by many people of Albanian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Polish and Slovak descent.

The Bohemian Boulevard, 72nd Street, was populated with Czechs, Poles and Slovaks. The Hungarian Boulevard was 79th Street, a hub for the Austro-Hungarian populace. The Irish were scattered throughout Yorkville, and until the late 1990s, the St. Patrick's Day Parade ended at 86th Street and Third Avenue. The German Boulevard was 86th Street.

But over time, the demographics changed for the richer. Most members of New York's upper-class families have made residences on the Upper East Side, including the oil-rich Rockefellers, political Roosevelts, political dynastic Kennedys, thoroughbred racing Whitneys and tobacco and electric power-fortuned Dukes.

Gracie Mansion, the last remaining suburban villa overlooking the East River, became the home of New York's mayor in 1942.

Neighborhood Description

Today there are few remnants of Yorkville's German origins; it has largely become an upper middle class neighborhood. Once called the “Silk Stocking District,” The Upper East Side has some of the most expensive real estate in the United States. The most expensive Upper East Side penthouse (in The Pierre Hotel) was listed in the classifieds for approximately $70 million United States dollars, and the most expensive townhouse was listed for $75 million.

Nevertheless, there is a large student presence due to Hunter College, Rockefeller University, Bard College, the Fordham Graduate Housing on 81st street and other small schools in the area. Because it is isolated from the subway, east Yorkville is quite affordable, and many young people live between 1st avenue and East End Avenue. Many students live in the area to be close to nearby colleges, but the low rents, safe neighborhood and close proximity to Central Park attracts students from colleges all over Manhattan.

Additionally, The Upper East Side has more museums than any neighborhood in Manhattan.


Brandy’s Piano Bar (235 East 84th St) is a popular 84th Street Irish piano bar dating from the speak-easy era of the 1920s. Brandy's is host to large crowds each year after the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Carl Schurz Park (East End Ave and 86th St) is a 14.9 acre public park. It overlooks the waters of Hell Gate and Ward's Island in the East River, and is the site of Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York since 1942.

Bloomingdales (1000 Third Ave) occupies an entire square block, making it one of New York’s biggest department stores.

The Frick Collection (1 East 70th St) is one of the preeminent small art museums in the United States, with a high-quality collection of old master paintings and fine furniture housed in 16 galleries.

The Jewish Museum of New York (1109 Fifth Ave) is the preeminent museum in the United States devoted exclusively to 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture. Its collections comprise 27,000 items, ranging from archaeological artifacts to works by cutting-edge artists.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave) contains more than two million works of art, making it one of the world’s largest art galleries. Admittance is pay what you wish.

John Jay Park (FDR Drive, East 76 to East 78 Streets, Cherokee Place) is a former bathhouse renovated to include an auditorium, recreation room, gym and 145-foot swimming pool.

The Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave) is an art gallery and history museum presenting the history of New York City and its residents. The collections include paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, costumes, decorative objects and furniture, toys, rare books and manuscripts, marine and military collections, police and fire collections, and a theater collection.

The National Academy of Design (1083 Fifth Ave) houses a public collection of over five thousand works of nineteenth and twentieth century American art.

The Neue Galerie (1048 Fifth Ave) is a museum devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design.

The Guggenheim (1071 Fifth Ave) is one of the best-known museums in New York City and one of the 20th century's most important architectural landmarks.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (2 East 91st) is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.

The Whitney Museum of American Art (945 Madison Ave) houses one of the world's foremost collections of twentieth-century American art. The Permanent Collection of some 12,000 works encompasses paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations, drawings, prints and photographs.

The Museum of American Illustration (128 East 63rd St) has a collection of well over 2,000 works by many of the biggest names in the field of illustration. Admittance is free.

Manhattan House (200 E 66th Street), a mid-century modernist white brick building that was once home to Grace Kelly and Benny Goodman.

92nd Street Y (Lexington and 92nd) is a lecture hall, performance space, library, school, health and fitness center and a community organization.

Sources: Wikipedia (,,_Manhattan)

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