Posts Tagged ‘German’

Imagine yourself drinking beer in 1870

Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum has a new tour: Shop Life, which includes the re-creation of an 1870s German saloon along with stories and pictures from other retail businesses that have been part of 97 Orchard Street over the decades.

The saloon is a beautiful warm space, although dimly lit—and, our guide Claudia told us, in the days of kerosene lanterns it probably would have been dimmer still. Besides a fine wooden bar and nice furniture, there’s a table in the corner laid out with the same food you find in Germany today—sausage, eggs, bread. (Unfortunately the repast was only a model—while it would be wonderful to have a live experience in the saloon, with food and drink and music, that would be too much to ask of the museum. But you can find Germans drinking beer at Der Schwarze Kölner in Fort Greene.) Beyond the saloon is a little office room, then a tiny kitchen, then a well-furnished small bedroom. 

Claudia raised some good points about the importance of the wife’s unpaid labor (a great book about female lives & labor back in the day, if you’re interested, is Olwen Hufton’s The Prospect Before Her) and the controversy about New York’s blue laws, which forbade alcohol sales on Sunday—in German culture, the day the families liked to enjoy a few beers together after church.

The last room features an interactive exhibit that offers a variety of information and stories to read and listen to. I would have liked to meet the 15-year-old girl who mastered the new typewriter model in 1900, opening up her career horizons. The onward pace of the generations comes through in this exhibit; by the 1930s, many of the Lower East Side shopkeepers no longer lived in a room behind their business, but in Brooklyn or elsewhere. In many cases, America was indeed a springboard to the middle class.

As with the other tours at the museum, it’s about putting yourself in a space and hearing stories to help you imagine. The guides are good about reminding us of things affecting life for nineteenth-century immigrants that might never occur to us today.


We had a great time at Shop Life, and then went for soup in Chinatown.




Germans marching, throwing candy

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Steuben Parade, September 2007

This year’s Steuben Day Parade is at noon Saturday on Fifth Avenue, from 67th to 86th St.

Germans march, sing

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

It’s a great time of year for parades, and Saturday, Sept. 20, German-Americans celebrate with the Steuben Day Parade. It starts at noon on Fifth Avenue at 63rd St, marching up to 86th St. The part with the tall boots is a little scary, but it gets warmhearted after that. The German-American Friendship Party follows the parade at 1:30 pm at Summerstage in Central Park (enter at 72nd St).

Apparently the Steuben representatives rang the closing bell at the NYSE this afternoon; that hardly seems like something to get excited about right now. NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer will be a Grand Marshal of the parade.

September is German-American Friendship Month. Other events include:

German Day at Shea Stadium before Wednesday’s Mets game against the Cubs. (Have they had German Day at Shea before?) $15.

—A lecture on German Life and Song in Yorkville with historian Kathy Jolowicz and Werner Goebel, former singing waiter at the Bavarian Inn, at 7 pm Thursday at Liederkranz, 6 East 87th Street; $5.

—Cabaret singer Micaela Leon of Stuttgart performs a program called Trance Atlantic at 10 pm Friday, Sept. 26, at the Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. $20 plus $15 drink minimum; RSVP at (212) 206-0440

Walking tour of the Lower East Side at 1 pm Saturday, Sept. 27. Meet at NYU Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews. $30; RSVP at (212) 998-8660.

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.