To an outsider, Yorkville’s pulse could be clocked at geriatric speed, aside from the occasional poodle primped and pepped from a day at Biscuits & Bath (1535 First Avenue), a doggy spa. But Yorkville—home to the ghosts of blue-collar German and Hungarian immigrants and now a refuge for families looking to settle into luxury high-rises—has also become one of the most affordable Manhattan neighborhoods for roomy studios and one-bedroom apartments. “It’s simple supply-and-demand economics,” explains Gordon Golub of Citi Habitats, a citywide realty brokerage house. Because of abundant space, he says, landlords are willing to sign leases for less—and with accoutrements. “Bang for buck, you might pay $1400 for a one-bedroom downtown,” Golub says. “Up here, it’s the same price, only with more space, a doorman, roof deck, in-house gym and spa.” And residents say the neighborhood comes with more than just new Sub-Zero fridges and ugly post-war architecture. “This isn’t your grandmother’s Upper East Side anymore,” says State Senator Liz Krueger, a grassroots Democrat who fended off feisty steel heir Andrew Eristoff this past election day. “New York’s a big city,” she says, “but it’s rare to see three generations on the same sidewalk. It’s a tight community. Diverse. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Average Price to Rent: Studio, $1100 to $1600; one-bedroom, $1400 to $1900; two-bedroom, $1750 to $2900; three-bedroom, $2800 to $4500
Average Price to Buy: Studio, $200,000; one-bedroom, $350,000; two-bedroom, $850,000
Best Restaurants: The Heidelberg (1648 Second Avenue), one of the last authentic German restaurants in the city, still posts boiled pig knuckles on the menu. For less risky pickings, try the jaeger schnitzel, breaded veal smothered with a mushroom-cream gravy, served with buttery spaetzle and hot red cabbage. Next door, Schaller & Weber (1654 Second Avenue) offers homemade brats and wursts alongside other delicacies like creamy herring paste and tongue-and-blood sausage.
Best Bars: Pull up a stool at the infamous bar at Elaine’s Restaurant (1703 Second Avenue) and rub shoulders with high-profile regulars like Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand.
Boundaries: Subject to interpretation, but many agree that 96th Street caps Yorkville to the north, 79th Street to the south, Third Avenue to the west, and East End Avenue to the east.
Main Drags: Second Avenue, 86th Street, East End Avenue
Landmarks: Church of the Holy Trinity (316 East 88th Street); Henderson Place Historic District (East End Avenue between 86th and 87th streets); Gracie Mansion (East End Avenue at 88th Street)
Green Space: High above the turbulent, whirlpool-plagued waters of Hell Gate, one can gaze for miles from the picture-perfect benches that line the promenade in Carl Schurz Park, a place that stirs with the serene clichés of park life: Joggers pass through the foliage, seagulls pick at bread crumbs, and, after school, teens make their way into leafier, more remote quarters to fumble with cigarettes, a joint, or each other.
Happenings: About every full moon, the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (1010 Park Avenue) provides free telescopes for stargazing along the Carl Schurz promenade.
Activities: Dumpster-diving, a favorite pastime for city dwellers, is always most fruitful when the dumpsters are actually filled with expensive, worthwhile stuff. Early Sunday, an ambitious junkster might consider cruising Yorkville’s tonier addresses (East End Avenue, near Gracie Mansion) to filch through dunes of glorious, virtually untouched, junk: ski gear, vanity mirrors, mahogany bookshelves, and, on rare occasions, oil paintings. For fitness freaks of all ages, the nonprofit Asphalt Green (555 East 90th Street) offers organized sports, swimming lessons, yoga, and belly dancing.
Crime Stats: Burglars, they say, follow the booty. As of November 4, the 19th Precinct, which covers Yorkville and areas south, reports some of the highest numbers of robberies (281, down 13 from last year), burglaries (621, up 5), and grand larcenies (1827, down 15) in Manhattan, trumping the 25th Precinct, which covers most of Harlem (260 robberies, 106 burglaries, 165 grand larcenies), and the 34th Precinct, which covers most of Washington Heights (259, 320, 255).
Transportation: Being as many as five avenues from the Lexington Avenue subway line keeps real estate prices down. Residents and politicians have begged the city for years to continue construction on the controversial Second Avenue subway line, a project that, in poor economic times, will likely be sidelined until sunnier days. Many private bus and shuttle services have made the downtown commute more accessible.