What is Happening to Little Italy?

My grandmother was born in Little Italy, New York and I have taken students there in the past, but according to this article, New York City’s enclave of Italian culture is shrinking.  In fact, you would be hard pressed to find many Italians who still live there.  Here is taste:

In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. The narrow streets teemed with children and resonated with melodic exchanges in Italian among the one in five residents born in Italy and their second- and third-generation neighbors. 

By 2000, the census found that the Italian-American population had dwindled to 6 percent. Only 44 were Italian-born, compared with 2,149 a half-century earlier.

A census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in the same two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.

And, incredibly, the census could not find a single resident who had been born in Italy.  

Read the rest of this very interesting article here.

2 thoughts on “What is Happening to Little Italy?

  1. John: Fascinating piece. As far as I understand, something similar is happening to the ethnically Italian population in Philadelphia's “Italian Market” neighborhood. I wish I had a citation to share on this point.

    In any case, significant numbers of Hispanic immigrants to this community is changing the built environment in meaningful ways: the streets that were once (and, to some extent, still are) filled with stalls selling produce, meats, etc., are now surrounded by Hispanic stores, restaurants, and other establishments.

    The evolution of “place” is a fascinating topic. Thanks for sharing this piece.


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