A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 13, 2010
Fourth Reich (Washington Heights)

Washington Heights, in Manhattan, had many German immigrants in the 1930s and 1940s. The neighborhood was nicknamed “das vierte Reich” ("the Fourth Reich") from about 1937. Washington Heights has been mostly Dominican since the 1980s-1990s and the “fourth Reich” nickname is no longer used.

Another nickname for the same German community—“Frankfurt on the Hudson”—doesn’t appear to have been used before the 1980s.


Wikipedia: Washington Heights, Manhattan
Washington Heights is a New York City neighborhood in the northern reaches of the borough of Manhattan. It is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on Manhattan island by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights borders Harlem to the South, along 155th street, Inwood to the North along Dyckman Street, the Hudson River to the West and Harlem River to the East.
(...)
History
The Battle of Fort Washington, which occurred on November 16, 1776, saw Fort Washington fall to the British at great cost to the American forces; 130 soldiers were killed or wounded, and an additional 2,700 captured and held as prisoners, many of whom died on prison ships anchored in New York Harbor. The British renamed it “Fort Knyphausen” to honor the German general who had led the successful attack, and held it for the remainder of the war. The progress of the battle is marked by a series of bronze plaques along Broadway.

The series of ridges overlooking the Hudson were sites of villas in the 19th century, including the extensive property of John James Audubon.

In the early 1900s, Irish immigrants moved to Washington Heights. European Jews went to Washington Heights to escape Nazism during the 1930s and the 1940s. During the 1950s and 1960s, many Greeks moved to Washington Heights; the community was referred to as the “Astoria of Manhattan.” By the 1980/90s, the neighborhood became mostly Dominican.

By the 2000s, after years when gangsters ruled a thriving illegal drug trade, urban renewal began. Many Dominicans moved to Morris Heights, University Heights, and other west Bronx neighborhoods. While gentrification is often blamed for rapid changes in the neighborhood, the changes in population also reflect the departure of the dominant nationality. Even though Dominicans still make up 73 percent of the neighborhood, their moves to the Bronx have made room for Mexicans and Ecuadorians, according to The Latino Data Project of the City University of New York. The proportion of whites in Washington Heights has declined from 18 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2005.

Wikipedia: Hudson Heights (Manhattan)
Hudson Heights is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City in the United States. Hudson Heights is a sub-neighborhood of Washington Heights. Its name is the combination of its proximity to the Hudson River, and its geographical altitude, which includes the highest natural point in Manhattan. Hudson Heights is bounded by the Hudson River to the West, Broadway to the East, 173rd street to the South, and Fort Tryon Park to the North. The name Hudson Heights, and the boundaries associated with the neighborhood, were first established by the Hudson Heights Owners Coalition, which was founded in 1993.
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Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson
In the years after World War II, the neighborhood was referred to as Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson for the dense population of German and Austrian Jews who had settled there. A disproportionately large number of Germans who settled in the area had come from Frankfurt-am-Main, possibly giving rise to new name. No other neighborhood in the city was home to so many German Jews, who had created their own central German world in the 1930s.

So cosmopolitan was that world that in 1934 members of the German-Jewish Club of New York started Aufbau, a newsletter for its members that grew into a newspaper. Its offices were nearby on Broadway. The newspaper became known as a “prominent intellectual voice and a main forum for German Jewry in the United States,” according to the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. “It featured the work of great prominent writers and intellectuals such as Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Stefan Zweig, and Hannah Arendt. It was one of the only newspapers to report on the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II.”

In 1941 it published the Aufbau Almanac, a guide to living in the United States that explained the American political system, education, insurance law, the post office and sports. After the war, Aufbau helped families that had been scattered by European battles to reconnect by listing survivors’ names. Aufbau‘s offices eventually moved to the Upper West Side. The paper nearly went bankrupt in 2006, but was purchased by Jewish Media AG, and exists today as a monthly news magazine. Its editorial offices are now in Berlin, but it keeps a correspondent in New York.

The 1985 film We Were So Beloved tells the stories of neighborhood Jews who escaped the Holocaust. When their children grew up they tended to leave the neighborhood and, sometimes, the city. By 1960 German Jews accounted for only 16% of the population in Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson.

The neighborhood became less Jewish into the 1970s as Soviet immigrants moved to the area. Later, families from the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, made it their home. (So many Dominicans live in Washington Heights that candidates for the presidency of the Dominican Republic campaign in parades in the 150s and 160s.) In the 1980s African-Americans started moving in, followed shortly by other groups. “Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson” no longer described the area.

Google Books
Report of the New York Public Library
1937 (The Google Books date might not be accurate—ed.)
Pg. 87:
The recently arrived refugees from Germany and central Europe seem to have settled all over the City, and many of them are already using the branches. There are said to be more than 5,000 on Washington Heights alone. This district has been dubbed the “Fourth Reich.” They are well educated, intelligent people, interested in books and reading, and most of them speak English.
Pg. 92:
The librarian of the Washington Heights Branch reports that “The fact that the community is changing and changing rapidly may baffle us occasionally but it lends tremendous zest to the branch work. This ‘Fourth Reich’ section of the City has no decrease in the number of Central European refugees.”

Google Books
Bulletin of the New York Public Library
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Volume 44
1940
Pg. 236:
The librarian of the Washington Heights Branch reports that “The fact that the community is changing and changing rapidly may baffle us occasionally but it lends tremendous zest to the branch work. This ‘Fourth Reich’ section of the City has no decrease in the number of Central European refugees.”

Google Books
First Papers
By Martin Gumpert
New York, NY: Duell, Sloan and Pearce
1941
Pg. 167:
Here too, especially in the region of Washington Heights, the new Jewish immigration has settled, with a wealth of Viennese cafes and bake-shops. In the “Fourth Reich” around the George Washington Bridge one hears much German on the streets.

16 September 1945, New York (NY) Times, “School Plan Used to Decrease Bias: ‘Human Relations Counselor’ Is Aide to Negroes and Jews on Washington Heights,” pg. 42:
Known as “Fourth Reich”
Mrs. Hirsch found that the classrooms were crammed with 1,300 pupils representing forty-two different national backgrounds. The neighborhood, which after the rise of Reichsfuehrer Adolph Hitler in Germany had become known unofficially as “das vierte Reich,” because of the large number of refugees who settled there, rapidly was becoming Negroid and Latin-American in character.

Google Books
These Our People:
Minorities in American culture

D. C. Heath and Company
1949
Pg. 403:
For a time New York City was called “the Fourth Reich” and by 1942 there were nearly 25,000 refugees in the Washington Heights area alone.

Google Books
Commentary on the American scene:
Portraits of Jewish life in America

Edited by Elliot Ettelson Cohen
New York, NY: Knopf
1953
Pg. 224:
Ernest Stock
Washington Heights’ “Fourth Reich”
The German Emigres’ New Home

(Originally published in Commentary magazine, June 1951, pp. 581-588—ed.)

Google Books
The Refugee Intellectual:
The Americanization of the immigrants of 1933-1941

By Donald Peterson Kent
New York, NY: Columbia University Press
1953
Pg. 171:
Here the main concentrations are in the Washington Heights section (named by some refugees the “fourth Reich"), West Bronx, and the section of midtown Manhattan west of Central Park to the river.

Google Books
Strangers and Natives:
The evolution of the American Jew from 1921 to the present

By Judd L. Teller
New York, NY: Delacorte Press
1968
Pg. 154:
Fifity-two percent of them settled on New York’s West Side. The area bounded on the south by Seventy-second Street, just one block below the baroque Hotel Ansonia which has been so richly described by Saul Bellow, in Seize the Day, and on the north by Fort Tryon Park and its Cloisters. The area was soon nicknamed The Fourth Reich.
Pg. 155:
Their parents, however, were different, and the Fourth Reich was more than a nickname, it was a visible physical presence on the Upper West Side and Washington Heights throughout the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties.

Google Books
The Dr. Ruth phenomenon:
The sexual awakening of America?

By Barbara Multer-Wellin
New York, NY: Richardson & Steirman : Distributed by Kampmann
1987
Pg. 21:
She moved into an apartment in a section of Manhattan called Washington Heights, and nicknamed the Fourth Reich and Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • (0) Comments • Saturday, November 13, 2010 • Permalink