ABOUT THE YORKVILLE/KLEINDEUTSCHLAND Without General Friedrich, Wilhelm, von Steuben, George Washington would never have won the American Revolution!
This website has just been established to declare that the existence of Yorkville once lauded as Germantown, a phenomenon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, has not been forgotten and will not be forgotten. It is to let those Yorkville Oldtimers and their descendants know that the once internationally famous landmark, built by pioneers like my parents who, in 1932, came from Leipzig Germany and helped build a unique life during the 30s through the 60s, as well as those before them, will be preserved as an ERA, and not just an area. It was the “village” where I was born and went to school. It was my Disneyland.
My purpose, as the Yorkville Historian, in forming the Old Yorkville/Kleindeutschland Historical Society is to preserve Yorkville’s memory, with 86th Street from Lexington Avenue to First Avenue, as its center. The primary goal is to establish a place where we, as patriotic German/Americans can come together and share our memories, both written and pictorial. The ultimate goal is to create a Yorkville/Kleindeutschland Museum in Yorkville in which the stories about the struggles of German/Americans related to the Yorkville phenomenon are told.
The museum someday, would ideally include a research library with documents, photos, books, artifacts, much of which has already been collected, and not yet lost to the shunning of the German people, as well as an extensive exhibit on the History of Yorkville/Kleindeutschland. The project would acquaint and promote the truth to the America of today about how much these Yorkville Europeans, especially the Germans who cared about building a free and prosperous life, but whose reputation was defrocked by those fellow countrymen who did more evil than good.
Industries were also instrumental in building Yorkville and the largest was the beer brewing industry, one being Jakob Ruppert Sr. A long time friend and lineal descendent has collected his ancestral legacy of artifacts and documents, and would be working in a collaborative capacity. The museum would also include the presently running German Language Learning Club, www.germanlearn.com created in 1990 to preserve the culture and language once enjoyed in Yorkville, through a co-operative arrangement, offering an affordable opportunity for anyone wishing to learn the German language, and maintain the German heritage in a social atmosphere coupled with accompanying German/American events, such as the monthly Stammtisch.
My effort to collect as much material still available regarding the history of the N.Y. German population culminating in Yorkville is on-going, and has been for years. Much has been incorporated in two large historical exhibits depicting Old Yorkville, the Slocum Disaster, and the churches, commencing in the 17th Century through the mid 20th Century.
The large collection of stories and pictures assembled over the years from those who have left not only Yorkville but this earth as well, is also being included in a book now in the writing stages, with over 24 chapters, telling the story of the building of this "village" and what happened to it.
It tells of the lives of those pioneers who came and settled in Yorkville, and became part of it all, and why. It tells also of my experiences in growing up in an American "village" unique to my heritage in a country different to that patriotism, as well as those of my generation and before. I also commemorate the settlers of the original Kleindeutschland on the Lower East Side by preserving too, the memory of the Slocum Disaster in 1904. The Yorkville population of Irish, Greeks, Jewish, and Italians, and the then “Prussian Countries” whose common language was German, welded well together and, with the new and larger later influx of Germans it became known as the new “Little Germany”, Kleindeutschland created in Yorkville.
The Society wants also to promote non-politically, the German/American’s love of, and contributions to, music, art, literature, sports, architecture, medicine, and science and more, in America. It will encourage and try to keep alive the gemütlichkeit, folk heritage, good beer, delicious food, waltzes, Oom Pah bands, lederhosen, dirndls and all those other wonderful German contributions, regardless of religious and political beliefs, our country enjoys and takes for granted today, without realizing from whom they came.