4. The Upper East Side was a major German enclave
In the 19th century, many German immigrants began moving to Yorkville around 86th Street. Many German New Yorkers spent time in Carl Schurz Park, named after the German-born Secretary of the Interior. The original German immigrants moved around the 1850s to help construct the Croton Aqueduct, but immigration picked up around the 1880s. Following the General Slocum disaster in 1904, in which a ship carrying mostly Germans caught fire, many German residents of “Kleindeutschland” on the Lower East Side traveled uptown. The area was a haven for refugees from Nazi Germany, although the pro-Nazi German American Bund set up its base in Yorkville.
The area was also known for its many breweries, and there was some friendly (and not so friendly) competition between the two main ones: Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery and Ruppert’s. A number of German and Eastern European restaurants and shops are still open in the area today, including Heidelberg Restaurant, Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar, Cafe Sabarsky, and Bohemian Spirit Restaurant.