10 June 2011

Yesteryear's Yorkville

A photographic gaze in Yorkville's Germanic-Czech-Hungarian past. The above is of a southern stretch of 86th Street, long ago supplanted by a glass skyscraper. You can see more pictures here.

Geiger's was a famous pastry shop back in the day.

Schaller and Weber needs no introduction. Love the old look of the store.

Only in Yorkville could a beauty salon be owned by someone named Brunhild.

"Konditorei" is German for pastry shop. This famous one was on 86th.

Another view of the same shop, but in color.

Old Yorkville at Christmastime. These photos are from the late '60s and early '70s.


enodo said...

I used to work in that area in the late 1970s early 1980s. The German places were largely gone already at that point, but there were still some around. The original population had aged or moved away, and German food had become pretty unpopular.

There are, nonetheless, a couple of these places that have managed to survive the tides of fashion and rent. The Heidelberg Restaurant is still over on 2nd Ave, and the Schaller and Weber store is right next door.

maximum bob said...

Does anyone remember Mrs. Herbst
Hungarian Strudel shop on Third Avenue in Yorkville?
They had the most ethereal strudels
with a light as air phyllo crust.
My favorite was cheese, they also had apple, poppyseed, and cherry.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Herbts had extraordinary pastries (the son decided to sell off the business)...Other long lost favorites were Richter's Garden Inn, Schaefer's Jaeger House...Geoger and Kleine Konditerei were excellent restaurants (goose, sauurbraten, pastries) and the Ideal was affordable diner dining (breakast through dinner.) Yes, the German (and Hungarian) owners were not very friendly to the new residents of Yorkville but the yuppie influx in turn had no curiosity or appreciation about the neighborhood. (There were also Paprika Roth and Paprika Weiss, for Hungarian goods.) And Czech Praha with its excellent duck...

ironrailsironweights said...

German food had become pretty unpopular

German restaurants seem to be an endangered species just about everywhere. Dunno why, maybe there's a perception that the food is too heavy and high-calorie.


anniep said...

I'm in rehearsal for a play of mine ("knock") about Yorkville in the 1940s at Gallery Players in Brooklyn. it runs next week, Thursday through Sunday.
I had a boyfriend in the 80s who lived in the tenement over Petland near 86th and Third Avenue. I remember that there were a lot of hookers. And going into Geiger's Bakery to buy stollen or pastries. The little old ladies were very sweet, one Austrian lady in particular. One thing we talked about were Lebkuchen recipes.

Carol Gardens said...

I used to eat at one of the last German places on east 86th: Ideal Restaurant. I recall an ENORMOUS omelette they made with bacon and cheese of lots of other fattening stuff--serious caloric value for the money for an art student! Here is a good page about 86th:


John M said...

In case anyone is tempted to visit the Heidelberg for dinner, don't. My German wife and I used to go very once in a while, but the past few years the food has just seemed worse than ever. Last Christmastime, we went for the goose and it was almost inedible, the sides were not good, either, and the price was absolutely astronomical. The Germans who run the place are just milking it for everything they can, and the quality is way down the list of priorities.

Stick to the beer, you can't go wrong, I guess.

Out of all the places that used to be up there, it's too bad this lame excuse for a German restaurant has been the one to survive. I'm glad we go to Germany and Austria a couple times a year and enjoy some real Middle European food. This stuff is embarassing.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Last time I went to Heidelberg, the food was good. i recommend it.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

I had a Thanksgiving family dinner in Heidelberg, about 15 years ago. I was invited by a lovely, feisty old Upper East Side matron who had been going there for decades. We had a fine time!

John M said...

Maybe I've caught them on bad nights, but it's a half dozen nights or more going back over 10 years, so I don't know. The knudeln were like glue balls, so I guess it was good they were way too small. :-) Bottom line on restaurants, try it, and if you like it, you like it. No other opinion matters.

We've been to zum Schneider on Avenue C, and the food is very good, although the crowd is way too loud for us. Also, the food at Loreley on Rivington is very good, same deal with the noise. If you don't mind raucous crowds of young folks, give it a go. Or go when the place isn't full, like at off hours or very early evening. Loreley is run by some people from Cologne, and they nail the food of that area.

Blaue Gans, if it's still there, is also good, with a nice neighborhood crowd. Wechsler's on lower
First Ave. is a great little beer and wurst place, terrific potato salad, fantastic sausages.

All of those places have authentic, and very well done, German food, according to the Mrs. I agree, don't know if you've tried them but worth a shot if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

Brodsky Organization said...

These old photos of Yorkville are awe-inspiring! Our favorite has to be the nighttime shot of New York City in the rain, with the lights reflecting off of the wet pavement. Its nice to see all the great memories everyone has of the neighborhood, right down to the taste of Mrs. Herbst Hungarian Strudels.

Thomas Pryor said...

Great shots, I have hundreds of neighborhood shots going back to 1906 at my story blog:


Toni Carcione said...

I was born on Yorkville in 1942 and remained there till I was 24. It was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in.
I do remember Mrs Herbst strudel. My grandmother was from Hungary and I appreciated the Hungarian atmosphere as well as the German. My grandfather had a pet shop, The Tropical Nook, on 84th and Lexington

KpYi said...

german or hungarian food is not heavier nor higher in calorie then for example italian food. The main reason there are no german or hungarian restaurants anymore because the immigrants who operated those businesses gotten old their offsprings amerikanized and if you realize new immigrants not coming from that part of the world for a long time. Too bad, they helped to build amerika what is it today.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure I recall my uncle saying he worked for Herbst before working for Greenberg's. He was a baker and from Yorkville.

Dierk said...

just came across this side. think very interesting.
lived on 85 th and 1 st for 5 years. 1979 till 1984.
Remember very well Richters Garden Inn. Was our favorite hang out. Jerry Richter (son of the owner) was running that place.
Also Ideal restaurant/Cafe Geiger/Kleine Konditorei were great places for a German.
We did not go to the Heidelberg but as the only place left now was visiting it in the last years for drinks only.
Have been in NY over the last 30 years quite often and always try to visit the area. But it has changed quite a bit. But guess that was also the case in the 30 years before i moved there. Enjoyed very much living there. Unfortunately Richters Garden is gone. Does anyone know Jerry and how I could contact him? best regards Dierk

Vinny said...

Vinny said ,I sold christmas trees with my dad from the sixties all the way till 1994.We were all over Yorkville,on 86st-89st.on second ave.My dad was known as the christmas tree man.We loved eating at Ideals restaurant the food was fresh home made German/American great portions,at a great price.My dad has passed on,but some of my fondest memories is of Yorkville at christmas.

Anonymous said...

Franks little village where was it,is it still around who owned it??

Daniel A. Kaufman said...

I remember *all* of these places.

Gentrification and the take-over of NYC by Investment Bankers really destroyed the city.

Anonymous said...

Looks like he's selling real estate in Florida. Google him.

Anonymous said...

Franks Little Village is gone for a long time. It was between 84 & 83 St. on 2nd Ave. on the eastside of the Ave. Franks was my hangout in the middle 60s. Remember Frank well, with his Cigar hanging in his mouth and Madlain Barmaid and his Partner (forgot his name) Yeah,our Yorkville is gone, only the Heidelberg & Schaller&Weber still in existance, sorry to say.