The Marx Brothers’ Yorkville tenement home

In 1890 the Marx family—father Sam, who worked as a tailor on Lexington Avenue, mother Minnie, brothers Harpo, Chico, and Groucho, plus Minnie’s parents and a female cousin—moved to a tenement apartment building at 179 East 93rd Street.

Once brothers Gummo and Zeppo were born several years later, 10 family members were stuffed into one apartment, which they paid $27 a month for, according to Groucho’s autobiography, Hello I Must Be Going.

Marxbrotherstenement

At right is the Marx Brothers’ building today, more or less part of the affluent Carnegie Hill neighborhood. Back in the 1890s, however, it was in the middle of gritty breweries in working-class Yorkville. In his book, Groucho recalls his neck of the Upper East Side around 1900:

“We were surrounded by three breweries where we lived. When I went to school I could smell the malt. We used to go over to Park Avenue, where old man Ruppert lived in a big house with a fruit orchard, and we’d steal his apples and pears. There was a spiked fence about eight feet high, and dogs. We might have been dog meat, but we were very young, and we sure did like those apples and pears.”

Old man Ruppert was the owner of Ruppert’s Brewery, which spanned four blocks in the East 90s and is now the site of Ruppert Towers apartment complex. 

Today, neighborhood preservationists are trying to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District so it includes the Marx Brothers’ building and isn’t vulnerable to demolition

Marxbrothersearly

An early photo of the Marx Brothers. That must be Harpo on the left, but it’s hard to tell for sure who the other three are. Groucho on the far right?

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15 Responses to “The Marx Brothers’ Yorkville tenement home”

  1. Ian Schoenherr Says:

    Left to right: Adolph (Harpo), Milton (Gummo), Leonard (Chico), and Julius (Groucho) – I think!

  2. Marco Says:

    It is hard to tell. I think you got Harpo right. Chico looks to be the third from the left and then Groucho(?)

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I’d say Chico is third from left. But that’s because I have a hard time identifying Gummo and Zeppo.

  4. petey Says:

    jimmy cagney (96th street?) is yorkville’s other famous contribution to early movies.

  5. Arthur Says:

    From left to right, looks like Groucho, Zeppo, Chico, Gummo

  6. Kane Gruber Says:

    I’d almost bet money that it’s L to R) Harpo, Groucho, Chico, and whomever.

  7. william Says:

    its Harpo, GUMMO, CHICO, and Groucho. Jesus Christ! excellent article but whats with all these “it looks like” comments. if you’re such Marx Brothers experts, do your research. obviously its.. this is for the class.. Adolph, Milton, Leonard and Julius. See? I remembered that shit since the first time.

    • Barb Says:

      I can’t believe someone threw Zeppo in there, because anyone knows the Marx brothers knows Zeppo did not come in to the group until after Gummo went off to WWI. I like how the same person totally missed Harpo, duh Harpo was second oldest (actually third, remember Manfred?) after Chic(k)o.

  8. Lisa Says:

    No doubt. L 2 R Harpo, Gummo, Chico, Groucho. Some picture is on their website.

  9. Lisa Says:

    No DOUBT! Harpo, Gummo, Chico, Groucho. The same picture is on their website.

  10. Brian Says:

    How about Burt Lancaster?

  11. rick mcginnis Says:

    Was he in the Marx Brothers?

  12. Harpo Marx: a street kid on East 93rd Street « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] many New Yorkers know, the Marx Brothers, including Adolph “Harpo” Marx, grew up in a crowded tenement at 179 93rd Street, off Third [...]

  13. alex tod Says:

    lovlin brothers MARX..never forgotten….and 2 hard boiled Eggs-at One night at the opera-movie furror for every times.THANK YOU

  14. Tiluriso Says:

    Just confirmed from the photo section of Groucho’s 1951 autobiography, ” Groucho and Me ” . From left to right: Harpo, Gummo, Chico and Groucho.

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