Italian Americans in New York City

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New York City has the largest population of Italian Americans in the United States of America, many of whom inhabit ethnic enclaves in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

The largest wave of Italian immigration to the United States took place in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Between 1820 and 1978, 5.3 million Italians immigrated to the United States, including over two million between 1900 and 1910. Only the Irish and Germans immigrated in larger numbers.

The first New York City neighborhood to be settled by large numbers of Italian immigrants – primarily from Southern Italy and Sicily – was East Harlem, which became the first part of the city to be known as "Little Italy". The area, which lies east of Lexington Avenue between 96th and 116th Streets and east of Madison Avenue between 116th and 125th Streets, featured people from different regions of Italy on each cross street, as immigrants from each area chose to live in close proximity to each other.[1]

"Italian Harlem" approached its peak in the 1930s, with over 100,000 Italian-Americans living in its crowded, run-down apartment buildings.[2] The 1930 census showed that 81 percent of the population of Italian Harlem consisted of first- or second-generation Italian Americans. This was somewhat less than the concentration of Italian Americans in the Lower East Side’s Little Italy with 88 percent; Italian Harlem’s total population, however, was three times that of Little Italy.[3] Remnants of the neighborhood's Italian heritage are kept alive by the Giglio Society of East Harlem. Every year on the second weekend of August, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated and the "Dancing of the Giglio" is performed for thousands of visitors.

The best known "Little Italy" in Manhattan is the area currently called that, which centers around Mulberry Street. This settlement, however, is rapidly becoming part of the adjacent Chinatown as the older Italian residents die and their children move elsewhere. As of the 2000 census, 692,739 New Yorkers reported Italian ancestry, making them the largest European ethnic group in the city.[4] In 2011, the American Community Survey found there were 49,075 persons of Italian birth in New York City.[5]

Street vendors at the Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan's Little Italy.

Italian-American neighborhoods in New York City[edit]


The Consulate-General of Italy in New York is located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[6]


  1. ^ Nevius, Michelle and Nevius, James. Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City. New York: Free Press, 2009. ISBN 141658997X, p.154
  2. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300055366. , p.605 "Their number increased slightly during the 1930s, when as many as 110,000 Italians lived east of Lexington Avenue between 96th and 116th streets and east of Madison Avenue between 116th and 125th streets."
  3. ^ Meyer,Gerald. "Italian Harlem: America’s Largest and Most Italian Little Italy"
  4. ^ New York City Department of City Planning (2000). "2000 Census" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  5. ^ New York City Department of City Planning, "The Newest New Yorkers - Characteristics of the City's Foreign Born Population", 2013
  6. ^ Home. Consulate-General of Italy in New York. Retrieved on 15 January 2014. "690, Park Avenue New York, NY 10065"