WEEKEND HISTORY: THE GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN RESTAURANTS OF TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY NEW YORK

Restaurants are a crucial part of Upper West Side history, and the Bloomingdale History blog recently posted an intriguing piece on the neighborhood’s early dining history. One section dealt with the German and Austrian beer halls and dessert parlors of the early 20th Century. We’ve excerpted it below.

Between 97th and 98th Streets on the west side of Broadway was a well-known German beer garden spot, the Unter den Linden, named for the boulevard in Berlin. Here it is on a 1916 map, showing a lot of empty space around the building, space that served outdoor diners in warmer weather.

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Click to enlarge.

A 1933 article in The New York Times about New York’s German beer gardens mentions this particular location, as does Peter Salwen in his book Upper West Side Story. Salwen describes the shade trees, small tables and the colored lights overhead: “In May and June when the lindens shed their sweet-scented white blossoms, you could drop in after dinner to enjoy waltzes from the German band in a setting that was almost rural.”  This was also the type of place that attracted the cyclists on Sunday afternoon jaunts. Michael Susi has a postcard view of the Unter den Linden on page 72 of his Upper West Side book. By 1919, however, the Real Estate Record and Guide is reporting the sale of this corner where a 16-story apartment-hotel still stands today.

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Photo from 1910.

German and Austrian influence on the neighborhood is also reflected in this photo of Broadway at 104th Street, showing “Old Vienna” and “New Vienna” restaurants. This food was one of the first ethnic cuisines adopted by Americans, which eventually stretched from hot dogs to coffee cake and strudels, and to potato salad. In these early 20th century restaurants, no doubt there was Wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel on the menu.

You can read the whole article here.

To read other entries in our weekend history series, click here.

Images via Bloomingdale History blog.

COLUMNS, FOOD, HISTORY | 21 comments | permalink
    1. B.B. says:

      Do not think many New Yorkers are aware of just how large a presence Germans were in New York City (and other parts of USA) were in the early to middle parts of the last century.

      Not just UWS, but UES and Yorkville, large parts of Brooklyn (hence all those breweries like Rheingold).

      All over the UWS and Harlem these wealthy and industrious German Americans left their marks in buildings that are still standing today.

      http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2017/02/horgan-slatterys-nos-329-to-343-west.html

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Believe me, many of us are well aware. 20,000 people attended a Bund rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939. Lots of swastikas, Seig Heil’s, and anti-Jew speeches. Bund meetings were held in Yorkville and spied upon by the FBI at that time as well, whose meetings closed with a handshake and “We will see Jewish blood flow”. New York City, not even 100 years ago.

        • B.B. says:

          If that is all you believe German Americans contributed to New York, then I for one am sad for you.

          There is more so much more and much if not a majority of it good and still is around.

          The New York Yankees were owned by a German American who brought in Babe Ruth and built the original Yankee stadium for a start. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Ruppert

          As for the Bloomingdale District, WSR has done some excellent coverage of the area in past.
          http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/03/17/bloomingdale-an-old-name-resurfaces-but-will-it-stick

          • UWSHebrew says:

            I was not going to comment on this article, because it was benign. But I felt I had to respond to your statement of “Do not think many New Yorkers are aware of just how large a presence Germans were in New York City”, with my remarks, showing not-so-pleasant facts (to put it mildly), about that large presence of Germans in NYC that you felt you had to stress with WSR readers. History will not be swept under the rug, even though many people would like it to be.

            • Mark says:

              So are you lumping all Germans from the period into a generalization and saying that they were all a bunch of hateful bigots?

          • Peter says:

            People tend to forget that the Metropolitan Opera was a German-language company in its early years–because one in five New Yorkers back then were German immigrants or the first-generation children of German immigrants.

            • Terry says:

              Peter, thanks for your comment. I did not realize that about the Met, but knew that my grandfather, the son of German immigrants, auditioned when he was 12 for the Metropolitan Opera, and they thought his voice was so beautiful, they offered to hire him–under one daunting condition–if he would be castrated to preserve his young voice.

        • Steen says:

          And yet, here we are today, with Trump in office and history repeating itself. Only these days it’s Muslims who are under threat. How do you feel about that?

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Muslims are not under threat in the USA. Just because your hard-left liberal leaders state they are, does not make it true.

            • Mark says:

              Facts are messy things, aren’t they?

            • Zulu says:

              When I read your posts this quote usually comes to mind.

              None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.
              -Matthew Henry

              JCCs are getting threats in record accounts in this country and you blindly keep supporting a government that fosters intolerance and hate… bewildering.

          • UWS_lifer says:

            Hmmm…Where are all the bomb threats being called into Mosques??? I haven’t heard of any.

            Now ask me about how many threats the JCC and various synagogues throughout the country have had. Seems like the more things change the more things stay the same. Don’t kid yourselves.

            Remember, the USA is NOT the UWS. I’ve been out there in Red State/Trump country…it’s a little scary. Good thing I always had a gun with me…trying to blend in.:) Should have rented the pick-up instead of the BMW SUV though.

            p.s. common ground with UWSHebrew?? it is possible folks.

          • Asg says:

            What nonsense, but then again isn’t that the liberal way…no truth is needed.

            • Zulu says:

              Right, because when the leaders of the nation use words like “alternative facts” it’s a free pass to lie.

            • Mark says:

              Alternative facts can be verified by the cameras emitted from your microwave.

      • Scott says:

        A lot of Germans were driven out during WW1, when being German was quite dangerous to your health not just in NYC, but across the country. All because of the dumbest war in history.

    2. Cat says:

      When I first came to NYC I lived in Yorkville and it was still predominantly German and Irish but I didn’t learn about the history and the disaster that drove most of the German families to leave the area until a few years ago. I sometimes look up the history of various neighborhoods on wiki but now I’m wondering if there’s a comprehensive book (other than tour guides).

    3. Eva Y. says:

      No, not all Germans living in NY were Nazis, but enough were so that the refugees from Hitler that I came with refused to live in Yorkville. We mostly settled in Washington Heights and the UWS.

      • Andrea says:

        I think the unter den linden is the corner building still at 97th and Broadway north west corner. Surrounded by the building that went up around it that was built in 1919

    4. Mark says:

      I’ll bet if WSR posted an article about Israeli-owned businesses and commenters suggested anti-Israeli sentiments, a certain poster would be very upset.
      You know, the poster who takes everything as a personal insult and feels free to post comments bashing other groups.

    5. Wendy says:

      I miss Luchow’s, @ 14th Street. Bon appetit.