Ottendorfer Library and Former German Dispensary

135-137 Second Avenue
William Schickel, 1883-84

In the 1840’s, this area became known as “Kleindeutschland” (Little Germany) for its large number of German immigrants. The Ottendorfer Library (now a branch of the New York Public Library) and German Dispensary (later renamed the Stuyvesant Polyclinic) were funded by German-American philanthropists Anna and Oswald Ottendorfer to uplift the minds and bodies of their fellow German-Americans. The buildings include Italian Renaissance Revival and Queen Anne-style details, with red brick, terra-cotta trim, arched windows and symbolic ornament: urns and books on the library and busts of famous physicians and scientists on the dispensary. By the end of the 19th century, Kleindeutschland began to diminish as Germans moved uptown to Yorkville and other immigrants moved in. This decline quickened after the 1904 General Slocum disaster, a paddle boat accident that claimed the lives of over 1,000 German parishioners of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Library is a designated New York City Individual and Interior Landmark, and listed on the State and National Register; the German Dispensary is a New York City Individual and listed on the State and National Register.

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