Archive for September, 2008

Another book I’d like to read: Korean grocers

Friday, September 5th, 2008

In the New York Times’s City Room blog, Sewell Chan discusses sociologist Pyong Gap Min’s new book,  Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival: Korean Greengrocers in New York City. The book covers the history of Korean grocers in New York (did you know that there were only 400 Koreans in New York in 1960?) and the problems of discrimination at the Hunts Point produce market, tensions with the African-American community in many neighborhoods, and labor issues with Latino employees. The issues are complex, and while I haven’t read the book, I definitely recommend Chan’s column.

Kleindeutschland (nord)

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

In anticipation of the German beer season and the Steuben Day Parade on Sept. 20, a brief look at Yorkville on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Schaller and WeberGerman immigrants started colonizing the area in the first decade of the 20th century. One reason the Lower East Side German community began to disperse in this direction, according to Ruth Limmer in Six Heritage Tours of the Lower East Side, was the heartbreaking General Slocum disaster on June 15, 1904, in which more than a thousand people, mostly mothers and children, died at Hell Gate as an excursion boat caught fire.

Yorkville reached its peak as Kleindeutschland in the 1930s, but you won’t find much left of those days. According to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s Immigrant Heritage Trail, you can still attend a bilingual German-English service at Zion-St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on 84th Street between First and Second avenues, and dine & drink at Heidelberg Restaurant on Second Avenue between 85th and 86th; and next door, Schaller and Weber still sells German food and cosmetics. Then there’s the Liederkranz of New York City, on 87th Street, which is “devoted to cultural and social exchange and the sponsorship of musical events,” and not only German ones. They haven’t yet put up their fall calendar, but I’ll keep an eye on it.