Until the middle of the 19th century, the small outpost of a village known as Yorkville was but a stop along 3rd Avenue, the major thoroughfare between the then-center of New York City located five miles south at City Hall, and the village of Harlem on the Upper East Side. Yorkville was the site of a small manufacturing village clustered around 3rd Avenue and the estates of some of New York City’s most prominent residents, including the Astors and the Rhinelanders, along the East River. Following the Civil War, as New York City rapidly expanded northward, the area quickly began to be developed, and by the 1890s it was replete with thriving neighborhoods.
The area west of 3rd Avenue became home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents, with mansions lining 5th Avenue up to Carnegie Hill and townhouses running eastward from Central Park. East of 3rd Avenue was a predominantly German working-class neighborhood, the remnants of which are still visible in Yorkville. Today the area is a mixture of small, turn-of- the-century walk-up buildings, 19th-and early 20th-century townhouses, and more modern high-rise apartment buildings. Primarily a residential neighborhood, the community is also known for its excellent cultural resources, restaurants, shopping, and other facilities.
Though its construction began in 1929, the 2nd Avenue Subway will finally be completed in the coming years, bringing a much-needed mass transportation alternative to the neighborhood.