Thursday, March 09, 2006

Serbs in New York City

In the Encyclopedia of New York City, Marc Ferris writes that Serbs first came to the United States in the late nineteenth century as economic refugees. They primarliy settled further west, but many ended up in the Serb, Croat and Slovene community in Midtown West, along Ninth and Tenth Avenues between 21ts and 40th Streets. By 1914, the community was organized in to the Srpska Narodna Odbrana (Serbian National Defense) organization, and between 1911 and 1932 they had a daily newspaper, Srbski Dnevnik.

The most famous Serbian New Yorker is certainly Nikola Tesla, the prominent scientist and inventor. He lived here for almost 60 years, and died at the Hotel New Yorker at 40th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. The hotel now bears a memorial plaque in his honor.

Today, the strength of the Serbian community in New York is estimated at around 40,000, with the largest concentrations in Ridgewood and Astoria. The community's institutions inclulde the Jasenovac Research Institute and the Tesla Memorial Society of New York, and many recently-arrived refugees are active with Raccoon, whose focuses on all former Yugoslav groups.

Though it is now dispersed around the city, the center of the community remains Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava (20 West 26th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway), the most striking architectural landmark in town. The Permanent Mission of Serbia and Montenegro to the UN (854 Fifth Avenue between 66th and 67th Street) is another architectural gem.
(Top Photo: Interior of St. Sava Cathedral from New York Architectural Images; Below: memorial plaque at Hotel New Yorker from

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