Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Manhattan 3|
|Area code(s)||212, 332, 646, and 917|
Little Italy (Italian : Piccola Italia) is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan in New York City, once known for its large population of Italian Americans and Italian immigrants. It is bounded on the west by Tribeca and Soho, on the south by Chinatown, on the east by the Bowery and Lower East Side, and on the north by Nolita.
Little Italy on Mulberry Street used to extend as far south as Worth Street, as far north as Houston Street, as far west as Lafayette Street, and as far east as Bowery.[ citation needed ] It is now only three blocks on Mulberry Street. Little Italy originated as Mulberry Bend. Jacob Riis described Mulberry Bend as "the foul core of New York's slums." During this time period "Immigrants of the late 19th century usually settled in ethnic neighborhoods". Therefore, the "mass immigration from Italy during the 1880s" led to the large settlement of Italian immigrants in lower Manhattan. The results of such migration had created an "influx of Italian immigrants" which had "led to the commercial gathering of their dwelling and business".
Bill Tonelli from New York magazine said, "Once, Little Italy was like an insular Neapolitan village re-created on these shores, with its own language, customs, and financial and cultural institutions."Little Italy was not the largest Italian neighborhood in New York City, as East Harlem (or Italian Harlem) had a larger Italian population. Tonelli said that Little Italy "was perhaps the city's poorest Italian neighborhood". In 1910 Little Italy had almost 10,000 Italians; that was the peak of the community's Italian population. At the turn of the 20th century over 90% of the residents of the Fourteenth Ward were of Italian birth or origins. Tonnelli said that it meant "that residents began moving out to more spacious digs almost as soon as they arrived." Such a vastly growing community impacted the "U.S. labor movement in the 20th century" by making up much of the labor population in the garment industry".
After World War II, many residents of the Lower East Side began moving to Brooklyn, Staten Island, eastern Long Island, and New Jersey. Chinese immigrants became an increased presence after the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 removed immigration restrictions, and the Manhattan Chinatown to Little Italy's south expanded. In 2004, Tonelli said, "You can go back 30 years and find newspaper clips chronicling the expansion of Chinatown and mourning the loss of Little Italy."
Prior to 2004, several upscale businesses entered the northern portion of the area between Houston and Kenmare Street. Tonelli said "Real-estate prices zoomed, making it even tougher for the old-timers—residents and businesspeople alike—to hang on."After the September 11 attacks in 2001, areas below Houston Street were cut off for the rest of the fall of 2001. The San Gennaro feast, scheduled for September 13, was postponed. Business from the Financial District dropped severely, due to the closure of Park Row, which connected Chinatown and the Civic Center; as a result, residents in Little Italy and Chinatown suffered. Tonelli said the post-9/11 events "strangely enough, ended up motivating all these newfangled efforts to save what's left of the old neighborhood."
In 2004 Tonelli said "Today, Little Italy is a veneer—50 or so restaurants and cafés catering to tourists, covering a dense neighborhood of tenements shared by recent Chinese immigrants, young Americans who can't afford Soho, and a few remaining real live Italians."This sentiment has also been echoed by Italian culture and heritage website ItalianAware. The site has called the dominance of Italians in the area, "relatively short lived." It attributes this to the quick financial prosperity many Italians achieved, which afforded them the opportunity to leave the cramped neighborhood for areas in Brooklyn and Queens. The site also goes on to state that the area is currently referred to as Little Italy more out of nostalgia than as a reflection of a true ethnic population.
In 2010, Little Italy and Chinatown were listed in a single historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.Little Italy, by this point, was shrinking rapidly.
The New York Times sent its reporters to characterize the Little Italy/Mulberry neighborhood in May 1896:
They are laborers; toilers in all grades of manual work; they are artisans, they are junkman, and here, too, dwell the rag pickers. ... There is a monster colony of Italians who might be termed the commercial or shop keeping community of the Latins. Here are all sorts of stores, pensions, groceries, fruit emporiums, tailors, shoemakers, wine merchants, importers, musical instrument makers. ... There are notaries, lawyers, doctors, apothecaries, undertakers. ... There are more bankers among the Italians than among any other foreigners except the Germans in the city.
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, 1,211 residents claiming Italian ancestry lived in three census tracts that make up Little Italy. Those residents comprise 8.25% of the population in the community, which is similar to the proportion of those of Italian ancestry throughout New York City. Bill Tonelli of New York magazine contrasted Little Italy with the Manhattan Chinatown; in 2000, of the residents of the portions of Chinatown south of Grand Street, 81% were of Chinese origins.
In 2004, Tonelli revisited the issue, saying, "Little Italy may always endure as an open-air theme park of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European immigration to the Lower East Side ... But you'll spend a long time in the neighborhood before you hear anyone speak Italian, and then the speaker will be a tourist from Milan."Tonelli added, "You have to slow your gaze to find the neighbors in this neighborhood, because they're so overwhelmed and outnumbered by the tourists. But once you focus, you can see them, standing (or sitting) in the interstices, taking in the scene, like the group of men, mostly senior citizens, loitering contentedly under an awning on Mulberry Street."
Little Italy was home to dozens of restaurants that serve authentic Italian cuisine, but between March 2013 and March 2014, eight eateries closed down.
Since 2004, Sorrento Lactalis funds neighborhood cultural events in Little Italy.
The Feast of San Gennaro originally was once only a one-day religious commemoration. It began in September 1926 with the new arrival of immigrants from Naples. The Italian immigrants congregated along Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy to celebrate San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. The Feast of San Gennaro is a large street fair, lasting 11 days, that takes place every September along Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal Streets.The festival is an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community. In 1995 Mort Berkowitz became the professional manager of a community group that had been formed to take over management of the San Gennaro feast. Since then, Berkowitz became involved in other recreational activities in Little Italy, including the summer, Carnevale, Columbus Day, and Christmas events.
Richard Alba, a sociologist and professor at University at Albany, SUNY, said, "The fascinating part here is the way in which ethnic tourism—not only by Italian Americans but by people who want to see an authentic urban village—keeps these neighborhoods going."
Little Italy residents have seen organized crime since the early 20th century. Powerful members of the Italian Mafia have operated in Little Italy.
Little Italy was the locale of the fictional Corleone crime family depicted in the novel The Godfather and the three films based on it. It is also the setting for the 1973 Martin Scorsese film Mean Streets , starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel,and the 1994 Luc Besson film Léon: The Professional , starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman.
Other Italian American neighborhoods in New York City include:
Manhattan's Chinatown is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, bordering the Lower East Side to its east, Little Italy to its north, Civic Center to its south, and Tribeca to its west. With an estimated population of 90,000 to 100,000 people, Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Manhattan's Chinatown is also one of the oldest Chinese ethnic enclaves. The Manhattan Chinatown is one of nine Chinatown neighborhoods in New York City, as well as one of twelve in the New York metropolitan area, which contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, comprising an estimated 893,697 uniracial individuals as of 2017.
Nolita, sometimes written as NoLIta, and deriving from "North of Little Italy" is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Nolita is situated in Lower Manhattan, bounded on the north by Houston Street, on the east by the Bowery, on the south roughly by Broome Street, and on the west by Lafayette Street. It lies east of SoHo, south of NoHo, west of the Lower East Side, and north of Little Italy and Chinatown.
Bensonhurst is a residential neighborhood in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is bordered on the northwest by 14th Avenue, on the northeast by 65th Street, on the southeast by Avenue P and 22nd Avenue, and on the southwest by 86th Street. It is adjacent to the neighborhoods of Dyker Heights to the northwest, Borough Park and Mapleton to the northeast, Bath Beach to the southwest, and Gravesend to the southeast.
Mulberry Street is a principal thoroughfare in Manhattan in New York City. It is historically associated with Italian-American culture and history, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the heart of Manhattan's Little Italy.
The Feast of San Gennaro is an Italian-American festival. Originally a one-day religious commemoration, the festival was first celebrated in the United States in September 1926, when immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate Saint Januarius, the Patron Saint of Naples. His feast day is September 19 in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Ravenite Social Club was a club in Little Italy, New York City, an area once known for its large population of Italian Americans.
The Genovese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City and New Jersey as part of the American Mafia. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside New York, including ties with the Philadelphia, Patriarca, and Buffalo crime families.
Mott Street is a narrow but busy thoroughfare that runs in a north–south direction in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is regarded as Chinatown's unofficial "Main Street". Mott Street runs from Bleecker Street in the north to Chatham Square in the south. It is a one-way street with southbound-running vehicular traffic only.
Matthew Joseph "Matty the Horse" Ianniello was a New York mobster with the Genovese crime family, of which he was once the acting boss. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ianniello controlled the lucrative sex industry centered near Times Square. He was convicted of bid rigging in construction, skimming union dues and extorting protection money from bar owners, pornography peddlers, and topless dancers as Times Square became filled with peep shows.
James Ida also known as "Little Guy" is a New York mobster and former consigliere of the Genovese crime family.
Ciro Perrone was a New York City mobster and soldier in the Genovese crime family. Perrone was captain Matthew Ianniello's top soldier and his second-in-command since the 1970s.
Two Bridges is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, nestled at the southern end of the Lower East Side and Chinatown on the East River waterfront, near the footings of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. The neighborhood has been considered to be a part of the Lower East Side for much of its history. Two Bridges has traditionally been an immigrant neighborhood, previously populated by immigrants from Europe, and more recently from Latin America and China. The Two Bridges Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in September 2003.
The 116th Street Crew, also known as the Uptown Crew, is a powerful crew within the Genovese crime family. In the early 1960s, Anthony Salerno became one of the most powerful capos in the family. Salerno based the crew out of the Palma Boys Social Club located 416 East 115th Street in East Harlem, Manhattan. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 116th Street Crew had absorbed and initiated many former members of the vicious East Harlem Purple Gang, an Italian-American murder for hire and drug trafficking gang operating in 1970s Italian Harlem and acting generally independent of the Mafia.
Little Fuzhou, or Fuzhou Town, is a neighborhood in the Two Bridges and Lower East Side areas of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Starting in the 1980s and especially in the 1990s, the neighborhood became a prime destination for immigrants from Fuzhou, Fujian, China. Manhattan's Little Fuzhou is centered on East Broadway. However, since the 2000s, Chinatown in the neighborhood of Sunset Park became New York City's new primary destination for the Fuzhou immigrants, surpassing the original enclave in Manhattan.
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Perry Criscitelli is a New York restaurant owner who is an alleged member of the Bonanno crime family. Criscitelli owns several restaurants and previously managed a popular city street festival.
Avenue U is a street located in Brooklyn, New York, United States. This avenue is a main thoroughfare throughout its length. Avenue U begins at Stillwell Avenue in Gravesend and ends at Bergen Avenue in Bergen Beach, while serving the other Brooklyn neighborhoods of Gravesend, Homecrest, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, and Mill Basin along its route.
The first Brooklyn Chinatown, was originally established in the Sunset Park area of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City itself. As this Chinatown is rapidly evolving into an enclave predominantly of Fuzhou immigrants from Fujian Province in China, it is now increasingly common to refer to it as the Little Fuzhou or Fuzhou Town of the Western Hemisphere; as well as the largest Fuzhou enclave of New York City.
The Brooklyn Camorra or New York Camorra was a loose grouping of early-20th-century organized crime groups that formed among Italian immigrants originating in Naples and the surrounding Campania region living in Greater New York, particularly in Brooklyn. In the early 20th century, the criminal underworld of New York City consisted largely of Italian Harlem-based Sicilians and groups of Neapolitans from Brooklyn, sometimes referred to as the Brooklyn Camorra, as Neapolitan organized crime is referred to as the Camorra.
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