The Hungarian House – Then and Now

The Hungarian House on East 82nd Street (Photo by Anna Brooks via Our Town)

In its early days, the Hungarian House on 82nd Street in Manhattan served as a community space for refugees of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 before becoming a social club for the upper class.

Since the 1990s, however, as the Yorkville neighborhood started changing, so too did the Hungarian House, which today is one of the few remaining active Hungarian cultural centers in the city, writes Anna Brooks in Our Town.

“In the ’90s, the house started to lose its identity,” Ildiko Nagy, the director of the Hungarian House, said. “People moved away from what was known as ‘Little Hungary’ in the area. Other immigrants started to get too old to participate, some of them died, and suddenly life was different at the house.”

The house is now one of the last pieces of living history for Hungarians on the Upper East Side, which for a time teemed with Eastern European expats.

“Little Hungary” had its genesis on East Houston Street, where émigrés from the central European country first settled, revitalizing empty homes and storefronts into Hungarian cafés and restaurants. Many of those residents would move from the East Village to Yorkville in the early 1900s, and 79th Street — dubbed Goulash Avenue — was alive with Hungarian butchers, bakeries, churches and markets.

Read more at Our Town about how the center came to house “thousands of pages detailing 1,000 years of Hungarian history,” and hear from a truba player and a language teacher on how the space continues to serve as a hub for Hungarians in New York.

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