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Explore the Life of Hannah Arendt in the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side was Hannah Arendt’s home from 1941 when she arrived as a stateless refugee, until she died in 1975. This neighborhood on a hill, home to fellow artists, writers, and friends, became a haven from her endless speaking and teaching schedule, which took her around the world.

Black and white portrait photo of Hannah Arendt with text that says Hannah Arendt and a navy blue and pink background

Hannah Arendt wrote here, entertained here, and rested here, and it was here where she found the four walls necessary for solitude, friendship, and thinking.

Launch the Goethe-Institut’s free audio tour to walk the Upper West Side and trace how Hannah Arendt made a home in the United States, discovering where she used to live, what she liked to grab for lunch, and how she got her start as a writer.

Here’s a peek at just a few of many stories you'll hear…

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the Upper West Side, New York City

When Hannah Arendt arrived at Ellis Island on May 22, 1941 she was thirty-five years old, had twenty-five dollars in her pocket, and spoke very little English. She had just escaped two world wars, imprisonment and internment. Her life was just beginning.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is the beginning of the audio tour because monuments were of particular interest to Arendt, and this is one she walked past on a regular basis. Monuments, she writes in her 1958 book The Human Condition, tell us a story - they are records of action in this realm of human affairs.

317 West 95th Street

Exterior view of 317 West 95th Street in Upper West Side, New York City

This apartment building was called the Valencia Court and was constructed in 1902 by Ernest Schneider and Henry Herter. Schneider and Herter were two of the most prolific housing designers in New York City around 1900.

When Henry Herter arrived in New York from Germany he recoiled at the gloomy architecture, compared to the grand European facades and lavish streets of his mother country, so he went into business designing a series of tenements in the Bauakadamie style using brick piers and terra cotta spandrel.

370 Riverside Drive

Exterior view of a green awning that says 370 Riverside Drive, located in the Upper West Side, New York City

Constructed from 1922 to 1924 by Simon Schwartz and Arthur Gross, 370 Riverside Drive sits on a hill overlooking the Hudson River and Riverside Park.

The apartment has a storied history, in part because of the long list of notable residents who have lived there, including Hannah Arendt and her husband Heinrich Blücher. The apartment hosted Arendt’s infamous New Year’s Eve parties.

On February 6, 1974 Hannah Arendt's parties at 370 Riverside Drive were written about in the New York Times in an article on West Side intellectuals. At Hannah Arendt's New Year's Eve party, West Side intellectuals with European backgrounds gather in one room, and West Side intellectuals with American backgrounds gather in another. The Europeans are in the room with the liqueurs and chocolates. The Americans are in the room with the whisky.

Riverside Park

View of Riverside Park with green trees in the background

Hannah Arendt did not like to interrupt her working day. But from time to time she would come to Riverside Park, to sit and watch people, taking in a bit of fresh air, stealing a moment for herself.

In 1943, shortly after she arrived, she wrote a poem about Riverside Park. It is a beautiful meditation on daily life and how we are always rushing from one thing to the next:

Park on the Hudson by Hannah Arendt

Fisherman fish quietly on rivers

In the whole world.

Drivers drive blindly on paths

Around the whole world.

Children run, mothers call,

Golden is the world.

A loving couple passes by

Sometimes through the world.

Fisherman fish quietly on rivers

Until the sun sets

Drivers drive blindly down paths

Quickly towards their death.

Children, blessed in the sun,

Play eternally.

Sometimes a couple passes by,

With them goes the time.

Fisherman fish quietly on rivers

lonely hangs the branch.

Drivers drive blindly on paths

Restless to rest.

Children play, mothers call,

Eternity is almost-

A loving couple passes by,

Bearing the burden of time.

If you're interested in learning more about the life of Hannah Arendt, check out Goethe-Institut’s website as well as this bibliography curated by Samantha Rose Hill, who is also the narrator of the audio tour.


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