This week's Cornerspotter was indeed a stumper. No one could identify the Turn Verein hall located at the corner of 85th Street and Lexington Avenue from a photo taken in the mid- to late-1930s. The Turn Verein hall was a social center for the German-American community in New York City for almost a century before being torn down in 1984 to construct a 14-story apartment building of the sort that makes Lexington Avenue in Yorkville a markedly poorer architectural neighbor of the avenues to its west.
Yorkville on the Upper East Side was a neighborhood with a large concentration of German-American New Yorkers whose population was swelled by the exodus of those who left the Lower East Side following the General Slocum disaster of 1904, in which more than a thousand people—mostly women and children—drowned or were burned to death during a church-sponsored East River outing. That German-American community grew around the Turn Verein hall, built in 1898 at the corner of 85th Street and Lexington. The Turn Verein was a German-American society that used the hall as a center for athletic competition, educational activities, and social gatherings, according to the Times. The ground floor tenant was a popular restaurant called Hans Jaeger's, one of New York's best-known German restaurants.
As Yorkville's ethnic composition become less German-centric, demand for a clubhouse as grand as the Turn Verein hall on Lexington fell off. The social club sold the property to a developer in 1984 for destruction and construction of the current apartment building, with the eventual requisite ground floor Starbucks. Thanks for playing!
· Hint: A Real Head Turner of a New york Building [Curbed]
· Ethnic Makes Way for Modern [NYT]
· Cornerspotter [Curbed]