Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hoboken Harbor Patrol

Not feeling too swift, Sunday morning, I tried to revive myself with a bike ride before a heavy lifting chore.

Heading west, the Puerto Rican Parade detoured me south along Park Avenue, nice and empty, worked my way over to Fifth in the low 40s and biked to 23rd St and turned towards the Hudson. Sat on my butt under an umbrella and wrote for a while at the Battery.

On the way back on the wrong side of international waters, the Hoboken Harbor Patrol skirted their boat against the New York side seawall. My concern: if the New York patrol showed up this could be a Korean incident, this could be fireworks. I was relieved when the Hoboken boat moved to the middle of the river. Those Jersey guys are rough, no need to aggravate them.

Back in Yorkville, I walked into the Zion ~ St. Mark's church for the first time (built in 1888). Watching the service, I thought about the neighborhood 122 years ago with dairy farms still skirting the upper 80s ~ that knocks me out. Here are pictures I took and a few from the church's web site with their history.

Church History from web site: http://www.zionstmarks.org/

Zion and St. Mark's originally were two separate German speaking Lutheran congregations in New York City. St. Mark's was located on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, where German immigrants had founded it in 1846 to have a home for their faith. Zion Church, organized in 1892, purchased the former German Evangelical Church of Yorkville, designed by J.F. Mahoney and built in 1888.

Both congregations grew at a rapid pace with the influx of mass immigration to the United States from Germany in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Both congregations were at the heart of German speaking neighborhoods.

Zion-St. Mark Lutheran Church - New York City
In 1904, disaster struck St. Mark's from which it never really would recover. The Ladies' Aid Society (Frauenhilfsverein) had chartered a boat, the General Slocum, for its annual outing. Almost all the women and children of the parishioners went aboard that steamship to sail up the East River for a wonderful summer day outing. At Hell's Gate—not far from where Zion church is located—the boat caught fire and over 1000 parishioners perished. In 1946, St. Mark's merged with Zion after most of the remaining congregation had left the Lower East Side and moved to Yorkville.

While Yorkville continued to thrive in the first half of the last century, its German character was lost in the second half. Nowadays it is a gentrified neighborhood where people from many nations live.

Zion-St. Mark's membership declined with the end of mass immigration from Germany. However, the church still has services in German and celebrates many German cultural events throughout the year.

Zion St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church was listed on the State Register of Historic Places on November 28, 1994, and on the National Register of Historic Places on March 23, 1995.

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