In the 1870’s, German immigrants flocked to Yorkville, a neighborhood on the Upper East Side. While the majority of Yorkville was German, there were plenty of families from Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, and Hungary. While the buildings were technically tenements, they were quite nice by the standards of the day and feature charming architectural details, many of which remain today. As the 20th century unfolded, families from Yorkville assimilated into American culture and spread throughout the city.
In it’s heydey, Yorkville was the sort of neighborhood that offered everything you needed. Residents didn’t need to venture into the rest of Manhattan if they didn’t care to. That’s slowly becoming true again, as stores and offices return. For more information on Yorkville’s history, check out German New York City.
Today there are few reminders of Yorkville’s German history, except for the food. You can eat your way through Schaller & Weber, Glaser’s Bake Shop, M. Rohrs’ House of Fine Teas & Coffees, and the irreplaceable Orwashers. While the Heidelberg Restaurant isn’t authentic (it dates from the 1960s), but it sure is…something and has become an institution in its own right.
If you’re looking for German culture in New York today, you might have better luck in Ridgewood, Glendale, and Middle Village.
Where to work
This place has everything you could want: lots of outlets, solid wifi, a diverse selection of seating, a patio, non-sketchy bathrooms, and an affordable selection of food. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the front area is all that’s there; there’s a huge basement work area. The only drawback for me is that I’m a Stumptown hater.
I may be partial to Jax, but I’m more often found at DTUT. The thing is, I never actually get work done here, but it is a good spot to plot your next business adventure over some coffee and beer. Or smores. There’s no wifi after 5pm or on weekends, so don’t plan on getting work done outside of the 9-5.
This little place is more bodega than hipster cafe, but that’s part of its charm. It’s a good local spot with people watching that could inspire your work.
If you’re celiac or obsessed with eating clean, this is the place for you. There are almost always seats available, thanks to their upstairs seating area. They’re well stocked with outlets and everything is clean, including the bathroom.
What to see
You’ve heard of Museum Row, surely. There’s more to the Upper East Side than just the big names. Check out the events at the 92nd Street Y. If you liked Sleep No More, try checking out Speakeasy Dollhouse. If you’re here for Broadway, Try Brandy’s Piano Bar.
The waterfront here lacks the charm of DUMBO, or even Hoboken, but it has a certain highway-fume-infused charm of its own.
Where to eat outdoors
Two Little Red Hens + Carl Schurz Park
People travel for these cupcakes, so don’t miss out on your chance. You’re equidistant to the water and Central Park, but Carl Schurz seems like the more local choice.
H&H Bagels + Central Park
Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re wearing all black and casually ignoring celebrities.
This side-street spot looks like a dive bar, but it’s got a patio in the back. It’s a good place to escape the crowds, except on game night.
Where to eat indoors
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An excellent beer selection, along with delicious, unpretentious food. This place would be standard elsewhere, but in the formerly boring UES, it’s pretty exciting. It was one of the first bars in the area that catered towards people like us and not our grandparents.
Need a brunch spot that isn’t slammed? Head to the Jones Wood for reliably tasty British fare and good service.
Where to drink
This spot quickly became my new favorite because of its exceptional service. I wanted a spot where I could sit at the bar, have a conversation, and maybe grab a snack. The Weir delivered.
This cocktail bar also does an excellent cajun brunch. The other brunch options in the neighborhood tend to range from classic to boring, so this is a good option to mix things up.
The food at the Penrose is fairly standard, but it’s a solid spot with an extensive beer list.
Where to stay
Unfortunately, there are few affordable places to stay in Manhattan. The Gracie Inn has only 13 rooms, so you’ll need to book in advance if you’d like to stay there. The Franklin is a boutique hotel with a sad website. Rooms start at $159/night but will likely be considerably more. The Courtyard Marriot is a safe bet, although it’s a bit of a hike to the subway.
If you’re looking to stay for a month or more, you can stay at the 92YResidence. If you’re in New York for work or school, you can stay at St Mary’s Residence, although be warned that they do not have wifi in the rooms and you need to provide your own sheets. It’s one of the most affordable options in the city, so it might be worth the restrictions.
If you want to make sure you’ll be comfortable, you can rent a room or an apartment on Flipkey.
The 4/5/6 is a nightmare at rush hour, but fine otherwise. The bus is also a legitimate option.
Living in Yorkville
Yorkville is comparatively affordable, as far as New York City goes. Studios and even the occasional one bedroom co-op can be bought for under $500k.