Most New Yorkers know that the East 80s and 90s were home to a large German community through most of the 20th century. But just below in the far East 70s, a Czech neighborhood thrived as well.
There’s not much left now; the tens and thousands of Czechs who once lived there have died or moved on. But a few signs of their old community still exist, such as Bohemian National Hall on East 73rd between First and Second Avenues.
Built in 1897, it featured a ballroom, bar, dance hall, and small bowling alley. It recently reopened after an extensive renovation.
The Czech Gymnastic Association built this 2-story building on East 71st Street in 1896.
In a 1900 article about the neighborhood, The New York Times wrote:
“The large hall is the pride of the gymnasts, for here, when the hall is not otherwise engaged, the trapeze, rings, and bars are used by the juvenile and adult classes of both sexes, who train under the direction of Ferdinand Martyny. the Bohemians are renowned all over the European continent as gymnasts.”