New York City ethnic enclaves
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Since its founding in 1625 by Dutch traders as New Amsterdam, New York City has been a major destination for immigrants of many nationalities who have formed ethnic enclaves, neighborhoods dominated by one ethnicity. Freed African American slaves also moved to New York City in the Great Migration and the later Second Great Migration and formed ethnic enclaves. These neighborhoods are set apart from the main city by differences such as food, goods for sale, or even language. Ethnic enclaves provide inhabitants security in work and social opportunities, but limit economic opportunities, do not encourage the development of English speaking, and keep immigrants in their own culture.
As of 2000[update], 36% of the population of New York City are immigrants. African Americans, Haitian Americans, Jamaican Americans and Trinidadian Americans have all formed ethnic enclaves in New York. Asian ethnic groups with enclaves in New York include Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Pakistani Americans and Korean Americans. European ethnic groups with ethnic enclaves include Greek Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Albanian Americans, Jewish Americans, Polish Americans, and Russian Americans. Latin American groups with ethnic enclaves include Dominican Americans, Guyanese, Salvadoran American, Ecuadorian American Mexican Americans, and Nuyoricans. Middle Eastern ethnic groups that have formed ethnic enclaves include Palestinian Americans, Jordanian Americans, Egyptian Americans, Syrian Americans and Lebanese Americans. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world.
- 1 History of immigration to and ethnic enclaves in New York City
- 2 African American and Caribbean American
- 3 South and East Asian
- 4 European
- 5 Latin American
- 6 Middle Eastern
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
History of immigration to and ethnic enclaves in New York City
New York City was founded in 1625, by Dutch traders as New Amsterdam. The settlement was a slow growing village, but was diverse. However, the Netherlands never had a large emigrant population, and the colony attracted few Dutch and more people from different ethnic groups. As early as 1646, 18 languages were spoken in New Amsterdam, and ethnic groups within New Amsterdam included Dutch, Danes, English, Flemish, French, Germans, Irish, Italians, Norwegians, Poles, Portuguese, Scots, Swede, Walloons, and Bohemians. The young, diverse village also became a seafarer's town, with taverns and smugglers. After Peter Stuyvesant became Director, New Amsterdam began to grow more quickly, achieving a population of 1,500, and growing to 2,000 by 1655 and almost to 9,000 in 1664, when the British seized the colony, renaming it New York.
Colonial New York City was also a center of religious diversity, including one of the first Jewish congregations, along with Philadelphia, Savannah, and Newport, in what was to become the United States.
African American and Caribbean American
The first recorded African Americans were brought to the present-day United States in 1619 as slaves. New York State began emancipating slaves in 1799, and in 1841, all slaves in New York State were freed, and many of New York's emancipated slaves lived in or moved to Fort Greene, Brooklyn. All slaves in the United States were later freed in 1865, with the end of the American Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. After the Civil War, African Americans left the South, where slavery had been the strongest, in large numbers. These movements are now known as the Great Migration, during the 1910s and 1920s and the Second Great Migration, from the end of World War II until 1970.
After arriving in New York, the African Americans formed neighborhoods, partially due to racism of the landlords at the time. The socioeconomic center of these neighborhoods, and all of "Black America", was Harlem, in Northern Manhattan. Hamilton Heights, on Harlem's western side, was a nicer part of Harlem, and Sugar Hill, named because its inhabitants enjoyed the "sweet life", was the nicest part.
In the 1930s, after the Independent Subway System's Eighth Avenue and Fulton Street subways opened, Harlem residents began to leave crowded Harlem for Brooklyn. The first neighborhood African Americans moved to in large numbers was Bedford-Stuyvesant, composed of the neighborhoods Bedford, Stuyvesant, Weeksville (which had an established African American community by the time of the New York Draft Riots), and Ocean Hill. From Bedford-Stuyvesant, African Americans moved into the surrounding neighborhoods, including Crown Heights, and Brownsville. After World War II, "white flight" occurred, in which predominantly white residents moved to the suburbs and were replaced with minority residents. Neighborhoods that experienced this include Canarsie, Flatbush, and East Flatbush.
Queens also experienced "white flight". Jamaica and South Jamaica both underwent ethnic change. Some of Queens' African American neighborhoods are housing projects or housing cooperatives, such as LeFrak City. Other African American neighborhoods include Laurelton, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, and St. Albans.
Staten Island is home to the oldest continuously settled free-black community in the United States, Sandy Ground. This community along the Southwestern shore of Staten Island was once home to thousands of free-black men and women, who came to Staten Island to work as oystermen. Members of this community also settled and established communities on the North Shore, such as West New Brighton and Port Richmond after oyster fishing became scarce in 1916. Many African Americans settled in several North Shore communities during the Great Migration, such as Arlington, Mariners Harbor, and New Brighton. Although the black community of Staten Island is mostly dispersed throughout the North Shore of the Island, there are several African Americans living on the South Shore.
Many Ghanaian people have settled in Concourse Village in the Bronx since an influx of Ghanaians began in the 1980s and 1990s. With over 27,000 in New York City, Ghanaians are the city's largest African immigrant group. Most live in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In Concourse Village, the intersection of Sheridan Avenue and McClellan Street is considered the Ghanaian population's center of commerce, but people also socialize in this intersection.
There is at least one community of West Africans in New York, concentrated in Le Petit Senegal in Harlem, Manhattan. The enclave is situated on 116th Street between St. Nicholas and 8th Avenues, and is home to a large number of Francophone West Africans.
According to the 2010 US Census data on brooklyn.com there are approximately 370,000 (16.4%) Caribbean descendants in Brooklyn. That figure includes persons who identify as Dominican (3.3%), but does not include the (7.4%) Puerto Rican population. Including Puerto Ricans, there are approximately 560,000 (23.8%) persons of Caribbean descent in Brooklyn. Similar, but not identical demographics in America exist in Miami, but there are fewer people of Cuban descent in New York.
Guyanese and Trinidadian
New York City has a few Guyanese and Trinidadian communities, both primarily Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadian. The largest one is in Ozone Park, Queens, on 101st and Liberty Avenues; this neighborhood extends to Richmond Hill, along Liberty Avenue between Lefferts Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway. Guyanese and Trinidadians in New York City number around 227,582 as of 2014[update]. Afro-Guyanese and Afro-Trinidadians live in neighborhoods like Canarsie or Flatbush in Brooklyn.
Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadians originated in India. After the abolition of slavery, South Asians were brought to Guyana and Trinidad to work as indentured servants. These South Asians were Hindu and spoke Caribbean Hindi. The descendants of these indentured servants later immigrated to New York City or to Toronto. They mostly live in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, which also have many Hindu, Muslim, and Christian people.
According to the 2000 census, there are about 200,000 Haitians/Haitian Americans in Brooklyn, showing that it is home to the largest number of Haitian immigrants in New York City. The neighborhood that has the largest Haitian community in New York is Flatbush, Brooklyn. The 2010 US Census indicates that 3% of Brooklynites are of Haitian descent. On Flatbush Avenue, Nostrand Avenue and Church Avenue you can find Haitian businesses, cuisine's, music etc. Other prominent Haitian neighborhoods include East Flatbush, Canarsie, and Kensington in Brooklyn and Springfield Gardens, Queens Village, Cambria Heights in Queens.
New York State has the largest population of Jamaican Americans in the United States. About 3.5% of the population of Brooklyn is of Jamaican heritage. In 1655, Jamaica was captured by the British, who brought African slaves in large numbers to work on plantations. The African slaves were emancipated in 1838, and owners starting paying wages to workers, who were now free to immigrate to the United States. Many Jamaicans immigrated in the years following 1944, when the United States economy was rebuilding from World War II, seeing opportunity. After 1965, when immigration quotas were lifted, Jamaican immigration skyrocketed again.
South and East Asian
As of 2013[update], there are more than 74,000 Bangladeshis in New York City, a majority of whom reside in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. The Bangladeshis in New York tend to form enclaves in neighborhoods predominantly populated by Asian Indians. These enclaves include one in Kensington, Brooklyn, featuring Bangladeshi grocers, hairdressers, and halal markets. Kensington's enclave, the biggest Bangladeshi enclave in the city, was formed in the mid-1990s as a small community of Bangladeshi shops, but the Bangladeshi population has now expanded to other boroughs as well. Bangladeshis have tried to leave a permanent legacy, making a failed attempt to rename McDonald Avenue after Sheik Mujibur Rahman, the first president of Bangladesh, as well as nicknaming the area Bangla Town.
There is also an enclave on 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, as well as one on Hillside Avenue in Queens, and one in Parkchester, Bronx. As well as the Bangladeshis living alongside the Indians, they, in fact, own many of the Indian restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens.
Until the late 20th century, the Chinese population was limited to one area in lower Manhattan. The New York metropolitan area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating an estimated 735,019 individuals as of 2012[update], including at least 350,000 foreign born Chinese as of 2013[update], making them the city's second largest ethnic group. The Chinese population in the New York City area is dispersed across at least 9 Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, three in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown, the Elmhurst Chinatown, and the newly emerged Chinatown in Corona), three in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown, the Avenue U Chinatown, and the Bensonhurst Chinatown), and one each in Edison, New Jersey and Nassau County, Long Island, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area. Chinese Americans, as a whole, have had a (relatively) long tenure in New York City. New York City's satellite Chinatowns in Queens and Brooklyn are thriving as traditionally urban enclaves, as large-scale Chinese immigration continues into New York.
The first Chinese immigrants came to lower Manhattan around 1870, looking for the "gold" America had to offer. By 1880, the enclave around Five Points was estimated to have from 200 to as many as 1,100 members. However, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which went into effect in 1882, caused an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who immigrated to New York and the rest of the United States. Later, in 1943, the Chinese were given a small quota, and the community's population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed. Today, the Manhattan Chinatown (simplified Chinese: 纽约华埠; traditional Chinese: 紐約華埠; pinyin: Niŭyuē Huá Bù) is home to the largest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia. Within Manhattan's expanding Chinatown lies a "Little Fuzhou" on East Broadway and surrounding streets, occupied predominantly by immigrants from the Fujian Province of Mainland China. Areas surrounding the "Little Fuzhou" consist mostly of Cantonese immigrants from Guangdong Province, the earlier Chinese settlers, and in some areas moderately of Cantonese immigrants. In the past few years, however, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants. The energy and population of Manhattan's Chinatown are fueled by relentless, massive immigration from Mainland China, both legal and illegal in origin, propagated in large part by New York's high density, extensive mass transit system, and huge economic marketplace.
The early settlers of Manhattan's Chinatown were mostly from Hong Kong and from Taishan of the Guangdong Province of China, which are Cantonese-speaking, and also from Shanghai. They form most of the Chinese population of the area surrounded by Mott and Canal Streets. The later settlers, from Fuzhou, Fujian, form the Chinese population of the area bounded by East Broadway. Chinatown's modern borders are roughly Grand Street on the north, Broadway on the west, Chrystie Street on the east, and East Broadway to the south. Little Fuzhou, a prime destination status for immigrants from the Fujian Province of China, is another, Fuzhouese, enclave in Chinatown and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Manhattan's Little Fuzhou is centered on the street of East Broadway. The neighborhood is named for the western portion of the street, which is primarily populated by mainland Chinese immigrants, (primarily Foochowese from Fuzhou, Fujian). The smaller, eastern portion has traditionally been home to a large number of Jews, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans.
The present Flushing Chinatown, in the Flushing, area of the borough of Queens was predominantly non-Hispanic white and Japanese until the 1970s when Taiwanese began a surge of immigration, followed by other groups of Chinese. By 1990, Asians constituted 41% of the population of the core area of Flushing, with Chinese in turn representing 41% of the Asian population. However, ethnic Chinese are constituting an increasingly dominant proportion. A 1986 estimate by the Flushing Chinese Business Association approximated 60,000 Chinese in Flushing alone. The popular styles of Chinese cuisine are ubiquitously accessible in Flushing Chinatown, including Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Hunanese, Szechuan, Cantonese, Fujianese, Xinjiang, Zhejiang, and Korean Chinese cuisine. Even the relatively obscure Dongbei style of cuisine indigenous to Northeast China is now available in Flushing Chinatown, as well as Mongolian cuisine. Mandarin Chinese (including Northeastern Mandarin), Fuzhou dialect, Min Nan Fujianese, Wu Chinese, Beijing dialect, Wenzhounese, Shanghainese, Suzhou dialect, Hangzhou dialect, Changzhou dialect, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and English are all prevalently spoken in Flushing Chinatown, while the Mongolian language is now emerging.
By 1988, 90% of the storefronts on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, in southern Brooklyn, had been abandoned. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area, not only new arrivals from China, but also members of Manhattan's Chinatown, seeking refuges from high rents, who fled to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the Brooklyn Chinatown, which now extends for 20 blocks along Eighth Avenue, from 42nd to 62nd Streets. This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past, but is now being repopulated by Fujianese (including Fuzhou people) and Wenzhounese immigrants.
Another Chinatown has developed in southern Brooklyn, on Avenue U in the Homecrest area, as evidenced by the growing number of Chinese-run fruit markets, restaurants, beauty and nail salons, and computer and general electronics dealers, spread among a community formerly composed mainly of Georgians, Vietnamese, Italians, Russians, and Greeks. The population of Homecrest in 2013 was more than 40% Chinese. Also emerging in southern Brooklyn, in the Bensonhurst neighborhood, below the BMT West End Line (D trains) along on 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, is Brooklyn's third Chinatown. The second Chinatown and the third, emerging Chinatown of Brooklyn are now increasingly carrying the majority of the Cantonese population in Brooklyn as the Cantonese dissipate from the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park. With the migration of the Cantonese in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, and along with new Chinese immigration, small clusters of Chinese people and businesses in different parts of Bensonhurst have grown integrating with other ethnic groups and businesses. Smaller enclaves also exist in nearby Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Bath Beach.
The first Filipino settlement in the United States was Saint Malo, Louisiana, established in 1763. Mass immigration started in the late 19th century, to service the plantations of Hawaii and the farms of California. The immigration quota was lowered to 50 Filipinos a year, however, Filipinos in the United States Navy were exempt from this. Therefore, Filipinos settled near Naval Bases and formed ethnic enclaves due to discrimination. The quota was raised in the second half of the 20th century, starting another wave of Filipino immigration, looking for political freedom and opportunity, and one which has extended until present.
Indian Americans are another group that has settled in New York City, forming a few different ethnic enclaves. One of these is called "Curry Row" and is in the East Village, Manhattan, centered on 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, another is called "Curry Hill" or "Little India", centered on Lexington Avenue between 26th and 31st Streets, and another is in Jackson Heights, Queens, centered on 74th Street between Roosevelt and 37th Avenue.
Richmond Hill, Queens is another "Little India" community. This area has the largest Sikh population in the New York City area. It is also known as "Little Punjab".
Some of the region's main centers of Indian culture are located in central New Jersey, particularly in Middlesex County. In Edison, New Jersey, ethnic Asian Indians represent more than 28% of the population, the highest percentage of any place in the United States with more than 1,000 residents identifying their ancestry. The Oak Tree Road area, which crosses through Edison and Iselin is a growing cultural hub with high concentrations of Indian stores and restaurants.
There have been three major waves of Indian immigrants, the first between 1899 and 1913, the second after India was granted independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, and the third after the immigration quota for individual countries was lifted in 1965. As of 2010[update], the New York City metropolitan area contains the largest Asian Indian population in North America.
As of 2011[update] within the city the largest groups of Japanese residents are in Astoria, Queens and Yorkville in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As of the 2010 U.S. Census there are about 1,300 Japanese in Astoria and about 1,100 Japanese in Yorkville. 500 Japanese people lived in East Village. As of the same year, there are about 6,000 Japanese in Bergen County, New Jersey and 5,000 Japanese in Westchester County, New York. As of that year most short-term Japanese business executives in Greater New York City reside in Midtown Manhattan or in New York City suburbs. In 2011 Dolnick and Semple wrote that while other ethnic groups in the New York City region cluster in specific areas, the Japanese were distributed "thinly" and "without a focal point" such as Chinatown for the Chinese. They stated that the relatively low number of Japanese in the city and area contributed to a lack of a focal point existing: there were about 20,000 Japanese in New York City compared to 305,000 Chinese. They wrote that Japanese supermarkets such as the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey are "[t]closest thing to hubs" of Japanese influence in Greater New York City.
As of 2000[update], Japanese expatriates in Westchester County, New York lived mostly in Scarsdale, and according to Lisa W. Foderaro of The New York Times it was well known as a place in Japan with good housing stock and schools. In addition some Japanese, as of 2000, seek housing and apartments in Eastchester, Harrison, Hartsdale, and Rye. Due to the declining Japanese economy, by 2000 the Japanese presence in Westchester County had decreased, and as of 2002 the declining presence lead to closures of businesses and the end of some activities.
New York City is home to the second largest population of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea. Koreans started immigrating with the signing of the Korean-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which allowed them to do so freely. The first wave of Korean immigration lasted from 1903–1905, when 7,000 Koreans came to the United States. After this first wave, the 1907 "Gentlemen's Agreement" of President Theodore Roosevelt restricted Korean immigration to the United States. President Harry Truman repealed this in 1948. and from 1951–1964, another wave of Koreans migrated to the United States, and a third wave lasted from 1969–1987. As economic conditions improved in Korea, many Koreans chose to stay.
Korean communities in New York include Koreatown in Manhattan; Bedford Park in the Bronx; and Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Flushing, Murray Hill, Bayside, and Douglaston–Little Neck, in Queens. The Korean enclave in Flushing spread eastward across Queens and into Nassau County, forming a large Long Island Koreatown—. In Murray Hill—part of the large Long Island Koreatown—the station of the same name on the Long Island Rail Road is close to a row of Korean-owned businesses and a mainly Korean-speaking community; the neighborhood culminates with Meokjagolmok (Restaurant Street) with two dozen restaurants, bars, cafes, a bakery, and some karaoke establishments.
Pakistani Americans have a large presence in New York, with the city (along with New Jersey) hosting the largest Pakistani population of any region in the United States. The population of Pakistanis is estimated at around 35,000; they are settled primarily in the boroughs of Queens (more specifically Jackson Heights) and Brooklyn (Coney Island Avenue). These numbers make Pakistani Americans the fifth largest Asian American group in New York City. As of 2006[update], 50,000 people of Pakistani descent were said to be living in New York City. This figure rises to 70,000 when illegal immigrants are also included. Pakistani migration to New York has occurred heavily only since the past two to three decades, reflecting the history of Pakistani migration elsewhere in the country; "Little Pakistans" or ethnic enclaves populated by Pakistanis tend to be characterised and populated by other South Asian Americans as well, including Indians and Bangladeshis and thus are dominated by South Asian culture. Pakistani restaurants, grocery markets and halal shops are abound in such areas.
Many Sri Lankan people settle in Tompkinsville, Staten Island, which has one of the highest concentrations of Sri Lankans outside of their native country. More than 5,000 Sri Lankans live in Staten Island. The Sri Lankan commercial center is at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Cebra Avenue. They often hold festive New Year celebrations on Staten Island, including a traditional oil-lighting ceremony, live baila music, and competitive events like coconut-scraping and bun-eating contests.
There is a community of Vietnamese at the Bowery in an area unofficially known as "Little Saigon." The area is overshadowed by neighboring Chinatown in that it is relatively indistinguishable. The area however is marked by an abundance of Vietnamese cuisines.
Many European ethnic groups have formed enclaves in New York. These include Albanian, Croatian, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian.
Albanians first immigrated to the United States from Southern Italy, Greece, and Kosovo in the 1920s. Later, in the 1990s, after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, many Albanians flocked to the United States. Two neighborhoods that became Albanian are Belmont and Pelham Parkway
Germans starting immigrating to the United States in the 17th century, and until the late 19th century, when Germany was the country of origin for the largest number of immigrants to the United States. In fact, Over one million Germans entered the United States in the 1850s alone.
German American ethnic enclaves in New York City include the now-defunct Little Germany, in Manhattan and the extant Yorkville, Manhattan. Little Germany, or as it was called in German, Kleindeutschland, was positioned in the Lower East Side, around Tompkins Square, in what would later become known as Alphabet City. The General Slocum disaster in 1904 wiped out the social core of the neighborhood, and many Germans moved to Yorkville. Yorkville, part of the Upper East Side, is bounded (roughly) by 79th Street to the south, 96th Street and Spanish Harlem to the north, the East River to the east, and Third Avenue to the west. The main artery of the neighborhood, 86th Street, has been called the "German Broadway". For much of the 20th century, Yorkville was inhabited by German and Hungarian Americans.
Astoria, Queens, is home to the largest concentration of Greek Americans in New York. When one would walk down a street in the 1970s, one would see Greek restaurants, Hellenic clubs, and many Greek-owned businesses. Now, Astoria has become more diverse, with Mexican Americans, Colombian Americans, Pakistani Americans, and Russian Americans all calling Astoria home. Many Greeks are leaving Astoria for Whitestone, Queens, but many of the buildings in Astoria are still owned by Greeks.
The largest Greek migration to the United States began around 1910 and ended around 1930, with most migrating for the economic opportunity, but as living conditions in Greece improved in the 1980s, Greek migration slowed. However, Astoria remains New York's "Little Greece".
Irish Americans make up approximately 5.3% of New York City's population, composing the second largest non-Hispanic white ethnic group. Irish Americans first came to America in colonial years (pre-1776), with immigration rising in the 1820s due to poor living conditions in Ireland. But the largest wave of Irish immigration came after the Great Famine in 1845.
After they came, Irish immigrants often crowded into subdivided homes, only meant for one family, and cellars, attics, and alleys all became home for some Irish immigrants. In fact, New York once had more Irishmen than Dublin itself. The Irish in New York developed a particular reputation for joining the New York City Police Department as well as the New York Fire Department.
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was originally developed as a resort for wealthy Manhattanites in 1879, but instead became a family-oriented Italian- and Irish-American community. Another large Irish-American community is located in Woodlawn, Bronx, but Woodlawn also has a mix of different ethnic groups. One large Irish community in Manhattan was Hell's Kitchen. Other sizable Irish-American communities include Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, both in Queens. Two big Irish communities are Marine Park and neighboring Gerritsen Beach.
At 8.3% of the population, Italian Americans compose the largest European American ethnic group in New York City, and are the largest ethnic group in Staten Island (Richmond County), making it the most Italian county in the United States, with 37.7% of the population reporting Italian American ancestry.
Though Italian immigration began as early as the 17th century, with Pietro Cesare Alberti, from Venice, being the first reported Italian living in the New Amsterdam colony, effective immigration started around 1860 with the founding of the Kingdom of Italy. Italian immigration skyrocketed, and lasted that way until 1921, when Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act that slowed the immigration of Italians. Most of the Italian immigrants to New York were from Southern Italy, from cities, Sicily, or Naples.
At one time, Little Italy in Manhattan had over 40,000 Italians and covered seventeen blocks. In fact, much of the Lower East Side in general and, until recently, Greenwich Village contained a high Italian population. Increasing rent prices, gentrification, and the enlargement of Chinatown have resulting in the shrinking of Little Italy. Little Italy is now concentrated around Mulberry Street between Kenmare and Grand streets, with about 5,000 Italian Americans. Italian Harlem, which was once home to over 100,000 Italian-Americans, has also largely disappeared since the 1970s, with the exception of Pleasant Avenue. East New York, Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Brownsville, Brooklyn also had sizable Italian communities that gradually shrank by the 1970s, though pockets of the older Italian-American communities still exist in these neighborhoods.
Today, Italian neighborhoods with large Italian-American populations include Morris Park, Bronx; Fordham, Bronx, around Arthur Avenue; Country Club, Bronx; Pelham Bay, Bronx; Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; Williamsburg, Brooklyn and East Williamsburg; Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, the city's largest Italian neighborhood (as of 2009); Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; Canarsie, Brooklyn; Astoria, Howard Beach, Middle Village, and Ozone Park, Queens; and much of Staten Island.
The first Jews arrived in New York City in 1654, when it was still New Amsterdam, from Recife (Brazil) following the First Anglo-Dutch War, resulting a decade later in the first known civil rights case in the New World when a Jew named Asser Levy successfully appealed to the New Amsterdam colonial council for the right to serve in the army. Later German immigration brought large communities of Ashkenazi Jews. Starting then until 1820 was the first wave of Jewish immigration to America, bringing fewer than 15,000 Jews. The first wave of Jewish people were fleeing religious persecution in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Bordeaux, Jamaica, England, Curaçao, Holland, and conquered by Russian Empire former Poland (Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów), and founded communities in New York, Newport, Charleston, Savannah, and Philadelphia. From 1820 to 1880 came the second wave, in which a quarter million German Jews migrated to America. A third major wave of Sephardi Jews coming from the Balkans and the Middle East after the Turkish revolution. The outbreak of World War I and the Holocaust caused many German Jews to immigrate to the United States. During this period, 1881 to 1924, over 2,000,000 Eastern European Jews immigrated, fleeing anti-semitic persecution in their home countries. A later wave from Eastern Europe, from 1985–1990, over 140,000 Jews immigrated from the former Soviet Union. 50,000 Jews a year still immigrate to the United States.
New York today has the second largest number of Jews in a metropolitan area, behind Gush Dan (the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area) in Israel. Borough Park, Brooklyn, (also known as Boro Park) is one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities in the world. Crown Heights, Brooklyn, also has a large Orthodox Jewish community. Flatbush, Brooklyn, Riverdale, Bronx, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Midwood, Brooklyn, Forest Hills, Queens, Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, Kew Gardens, Queens, Fresh Meadows, Queens and the Upper East Side, Washington Heights, Manhattan because of the proximity of the renowned Yeshiva U and Upper West Side, Manhattan, are also home to Jewish communities. Another neighborhood, the Lower East Side, though presently known as a mixing pot for people of many nationalities, including German, Puerto Rican, Italian, and Chinese, was primarily a Jewish neighborhood. Although the Jewish community of Staten Island is dispersed throughout the Island, enclaves of Hasidic Jews are found in the Willowbrook, New Springville, Eltingville, and New Brighton areas.
Lapskaus Boulevard in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn recalls a Norwegian enclave, which became mostly assimilated in the late 20th century. At its peak the area was home to 60,000 Norwegians. This neighborhood also hosted New York's principal Finnish enclave.
Polish American communities in New York include Greenpoint ("Little Poland") and North Williamsburg in Brooklyn; and Maspeth, and Ridgewood, around both Fresh Pond Road and Forest Avenue, in Queens. All of these neighborhoods were formerly high-crime neighborhoods populated mainly by Hispanic people, but now these neighborhoods are mostly safe and commercial.
Brooklyn has several Russian American communities, including Bay Ridge, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Midwood. Staten Island's Russian American communities are in South Beach, and New Dorp. The largest Russian-speaking community in the United States is Brighton Beach. Many Russians in New York are Jews from the former Soviet Union, which broke up in 1991, and most still retain at least part of their Russian culture. The primary language of Brighton Beach is Russian, as seen from businesses, clubs, and advertisements. A significant portion of the community is not proficient in English, and about 98% speak Russian as their native language.
There is a small Ukrainian American community in the East Village, centered on Second Avenue between 6th and 10th Streets. The community was there when the East Village was still referred to as the Lower East Side, and was a moderately large community. Though it has since declined, the number of Ukrainians in the neighborhood may have been as high as 60,000 after World War II.
Many ethnic enclaves in New York City are Latin American-centric. Latin American ethnic groups with enclaves in New York include Argentinians, Brazilians, Colombians, Dominicans, Salvadorans, Ecuadorians, Haitians, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans.
Most Brazilian Americans in New York can be found in two areas—in Astoria, Queens, and on a section of West 46th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. In Astoria, the area around 36th Avenue and 30th Street is the most Brazilian in character, despite the prevalence of other ethnic groups, like Bengali, Pakistani, Indian, Mexican, Arab, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Dominican, and Italian people. The top three languages in Astoria are Bengali, Spanish, and Brazilians' native Portuguese. The other Brazilian neighborhood, 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, was officially named "Little Brazil", but resident Brazilians call it "Rua 46."
One of many Latin American groups represented in New York, Colombian Americans have a very strong presence in Jackson Heights and a nearby neighborhood, Elmhurst, especially along Roosevelt Avenue.
New York City has also has some Salvadoran American ethnic enclaves such as the one in Flushing; others are in Corona, Williamsburg, and Parkchester. There is a sizable Honduran American population in the South Bronx and West Bronx.
Immigration records of Dominicans in the United States date from the late 19th century, with New York City having a Dominican community since the 1930s. Large scale immigration of Dominicans began after 1961 onward when dictator Rafael Trujillo died. Other catalysts in Dominican immigration were the invasion of Santo Domingo in 1965, and the regime of Joaquín Balaguer from 1966–1978. In part due to these catalysts, starting in the 1970s and lasting until the early 1990s, Dominicans were the largest group of immigrants coming into New York City. Now, Dominicans compose 7% of New York's population and are the largest immigrant group. Major Dominican neighborhoods in New York include Washington Heights, Manhattan; Inwood, Manhattan; Bushwick, Brooklyn; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Sunset Park, Brooklyn; East New York, Brooklyn; Corona, Queens; Sunnyside, Queens; Woodside, Queens; and the West Bronx; particularly the Morris Heights; Highbridge; and Fordham-Bedford sections. In fact Dominicans are the most dominant Hispanic group in many areas of the Bronx west of Grand Concourse.
The Dominican population of Woodside is concentrated on three blocks of identical apartment buildings. More immigrants groups are found in large numbers in Woodside, including Irish, Chinese, Koreans, Islamics, Mexicans, and Colombians.
The South Bronx is another neighborhood with a Dominican population. During the 1970s, the area, while heavily populated by Puerto Ricans & African Americans, became infamous for poverty and arson, a lot by landlords seeking insurance money on "coffin ships" of buildings. By 1975, the South Bronx was the most devastated urban landscape in America, and had experienced the largest population drop in urban history, given the exception of the aftermath of war. The South Bronx has started to recover, and most of it has recovered from the damage done in the 1970s.
By 1984, the traditionally heavily Italian neighborhood of Corona had instead become heavily Dominican, and Corona experienced rapid economic growth – 59% – as compared to the rest of the city experiencing 7%, as well as having the most overcrowded school district in the city as of 2006[update].
New York City has a few Ecuadorian American ethnic enclaves, and there are over 137,000 Ecuadorians in the city as of 2013[update], making them the sixth largest ethnic population in the city. A part of Southside Williamsburg in Brooklyn is Ecuadorian in nature, with Spanish being the primary language of most Ecuadorians in the area, bodegas advertising goods in Spanish, and churches advertising bingo games in Spanish.
Other Ecuadorian neighborhoods include Tremont in the Bronx, and several neighborhoods in Queens, including Jackson Heights, Corona, and Ridgewood, have significant Ecuadorian communities. Corona's Ecuadorian community, notably, is the fastest-growing, with parts of Corona being over 25% Ecuadorian.
Mexican Americans, as of 2004[update], were New York's fastest growing ethnic group, with 186,000 immigrants as of 2013[update]; they were also the third largest Hispanic group in New York City, after Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Close to 80% of New York Mexicans were born outside the United States, and more than 60% of Mexican New Yorkers reside in Brooklyn and Queens.
In Brooklyn, Sunset Park and Flatbush have the highest concentration of Mexicans, and Bushwick and Brighton Beach also have significant Mexican populations. In Queens, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights have the largest Mexican populations, but Corona and Kew Gardens also have sizable communities. Spanish Harlem in Manhattan, around 116th Street and Second Avenue, has a large community of Mexicans, which is still small compared to the area's predominant Puerto Rican population; Staten Island has a large Mexican community in the Port Richmond, West Brighton, and Tompkinsville areas.
The densest population of Mexicans in the city is actually in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in an area bounded by Second and Fifth Avenues and by 35th and 63rd Streets. This area is centered around a Fifth Avenue commercial strip. The main church is Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, with over 3,000 Mexican Catholic parishioners.
Puerto Ricans have been immigrating to New York since 1838, though they did not arrive in large numbers until the 20th century. In 1910 only 500 Puerto Ricans lived in New York, but by 1970 that number had skyrocketed to over 800,000, and 40% of those lived in the Bronx. Unlike the other four boroughs, Puerto Rican populations are significant throughout the Bronx, though there is slightly higher concentrations in the South Bronx. The first group of Puerto Ricans immigrated to New York City in the mid-19th century when Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony and its people Spanish subjects and as such they were immigrants. The following wave of Puerto Ricans to move to New York City did so after the Spanish–American War in 1898. Puerto Ricans were no longer Spanish subjects and citizens of Spain, they were now Puerto Rican citizens of an American possession and needed passports to travel to the mainland of the United States. That was until 1917, when the United States Congress approved Jones-Shafroth Act which gave Puerto Ricans in the island a U.S. citizenship with certain limitations. Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. however, were given full American citizenship and were allowed to seek political office in the states which they resided. Two months later, when Congress passed the Selective Service Act, conscription was extended to the Puerto Ricans both in the island and in the U.S.. It was expected that Puerto Rican men 18 years and older serve in the military  during World War I. The Jones-Shafroth Act also allowed Puerto Ricans to travel between Puerto Rico and the United States mainland without the need of a passport, thereby becoming migrants. The advent of air travel was one of the principal factors that led to the largest wave of migration of Puerto Ricans to New York City in the 1950s, known as "The Great Migration". Although Florida has received some dispersal of the population, there has been a resurgence in Puerto Rican migration to New York and New Jersey - consequently, the New York City Metropolitan Area has witnessed an increase in its Puerto Rican population from 1,177,430 in 2010 to a Census-estimated 1,201,850 in 2012, maintaining its status by a significant margin as the most important cultural and demographic center for Puerto Rican Americans outside San Juan.
Brooklyn has several neighborhoods with a Puerto Rican presence, many of the ethnic Puerto Rican neighborhoods in Brooklyn formed before the Puerto Rican neighborhoods in the South Bronx because of the work demand in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the 1940s and 50s. Bushwick has the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans in Brooklyn. Other neighborhoods with significant populations include Williamsburg, East New York, Brownsville, Coney Island, Red Hook, and Sunset Park. In Williamsburg; Graham Avenue is nicknamed "Avenue of Puerto Rico" because of the high density and strong ethnic enclave of Puerto Ricans who have been living in the neighborhood since the 1950s. The Puerto Rican day parade is also hosted on the avenue.
Ridgewood, Queens, also has a significant Puerto Rican population, which is now spreading to other places in Central Queens such as Maspeth, Glendale, and Middle Village; as does neighboring community Bushwick, Brooklyn. Other neighborhoods in Queens such as Woodhaven also have a sizable population.
Puerto Rican neighborhoods in Manhattan include Spanish Harlem and Loisaida. Spanish Harlem was "Italian Harlem" from the 1880s until the 1940s. By 1940, however, the name "Spanish Harlem" was becoming widespread, and by 1950, the area was predominantly Puerto Rican and African American. Loisaida is an enclave east of Avenue A that originally comprised German, Jewish, Irish, and Italian working class residents who lived in tenements without running water; the German presence, already in decline, virtually ended after the General Slocum disaster in 1904. Since them, the community has become Puerto Rican and Latino in character, despite the "gentrification" that has affected the East Village and the Lower East Side since the late 20th century.
Staten Island has a fairly large Puerto Rican population along the North Shore, especially in the Mariners' Harbor, Arlington, Elm Park, Graniteville, Port Richmond & Stapleton neighborhoods, where the population is in the 20% range.
In New York and many other cities, Puerto Ricans usually live in close proximity with Dominicans and African Americans. High concentrations of Puerto Ricans are also present in numerous public housing developments throughout the city.
Several Middle Eastern ethnic groups have immigrated to New York and formed several neighborhoods with a high concentration of people who are from Arab descent. Between the 1870s and the 1920s, the first wave of Arab immigrants brought mostly Syrians and Lebanese people to NYC. The most of them were Christian. A lot of the Syrian immigrants settled on Washington Street. In this area, the first Arabic neighborhood was formed. During the second immigration wave in the '60s, Little Syria became more affluent and moved to the area around Atlantic Avenue. After a certain period, the Arabic habitants of this area moved to other parts of the city, such as Astoria and Bay Ridge.There are now around 160.000 Arabic people in NYC and more than 480.000 in the New York State. According to the Arab American Institute the population of people who identifie themself as Arab, grow by 23% between 2000 and 2008.
Astoria, Queens, has an Egyptian American community, dubbed "Little Egypt", centered on Steinway Street between Broadway and Astoria Boulevard. It features many Middle Eastern cafés, restaurants, and shops, including other businesses from countries like Morocco, Lebanon, and Syria.
On Atlantic Avenue between the East River and Grand Army Plaza, there is also a significant population of Middle Easterners. There are a few shops which still exist in this street, such as Sahadi's. A little part of this community remained in the neighborhoods Boerum Hill and Park Slope. There is also a significant Middle Eastern population in Midwood, Brooklyn and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Especially Bay Ridge has a dramatically growing concentration of Arabs. You can find a lot of Yemenis and Palestinians in this neighborhood.
North Williamsburg is an ethnic enclave centered on Israeli Americans. There is also a small community of Israelis centered on Kings Highway, also in Brooklyn. Israelis first immigrated to the United States after 1948. United Kingdom, and the United States has experienced two large waves of immigration from Israel. The first was during the 1950s and early 1960s, 300,000 Israelis immigrated to the United States, and another wave, starting in the mid-1970s and lasting through the present, in which 100,000 to 500,000 Israelis have immigrated to the United States.
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