German immigrants originally settled in NYC starting in the 1840s in the Lower East Side in a neighborhood that became known as “Little Germany.” As new immigrant groups came to NYC, the Germans moved out to the boroughs and on the Upper East Side in the Yorkville neighborhood. There isn’t much left to the German Yorkville of old. It’s no surprise, as neighborhoods in NYC change with each new influx of immigrants. However, if you visit, there are some places to check out and enjoy old world German charm.
Your first stop is Glaser’s Bake Shop, a family-owned bakery since 1902 on 1st Avenue and 87th Street.
What started as a bread bakery turned into a pastry shop with German classics. Today, the bakery has doughnuts, cakes, turnovers, muffins, seasonal bakery items, challah and more. I got a jelly doughnut with granulated sugar, a butter danish, a cheese danish and crumb cake.
The crumb cake here is buttery soft with large, buttery crumbs on top and a fresh, soft cake.
Nearby is St. Joseph’s Church, a Roman Catholic Church founded in 1874 for the local German population, that still has masses in German.
After some delicious baked goods for breakfast, head over to Carl Schurz Park on East End Avenue from 84th Street to 90th Street to walk off all those carbs. Carl Schurz Park was named after Carl Schurz, the German-born Secretary of the Interior in 1910. It’s also the site of Gracie Mansion, which is open for tours.
After your walk through the park, back to German Yorkville. Schaller & Weber, a family-run butcher shop since 1937 on 2nd Avenue and 86th Street, is the place to do some shopping. You can get a variety of German cold cuts and liverwursts, spatzle and German products.
If you don’t want to cook for yourself, head down a few doors to the Heidelberg Restaurant, est. 1936, for authentic German food in a charming atmosphere. The bratwurst here is the best I’ve had in the U.S.
What to Eat: crumb cake from Glaser’s Bake Shop, bratwurst from Heidelberg
Where to Shop: Schaller & Weber
What to See: Carl Schurz Park