Little Italy, Manhattan

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Little Italy
Colour-changing 'Little Italy' sign on Mulberry St (Blue).jpg
Illuminated sign above Mulberry Street at Broome Street
Location in New York City
Coordinates: 40°43′08″N73°59′49″W / 40.719°N 73.997°W / 40.719; -73.997 Coordinates: 40°43′08″N73°59′49″W / 40.719°N 73.997°W / 40.719; -73.997
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of New York.svg  New York
City Flag of New York City.svg  New York City
Borough Manhattan
ZIP Code
10013
Area code(s) 212, 332, 646, and 917

Little Italy (Italian : Piccola Italia) is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, once known for its large population of Italian Americans. [1] Today the neighborhood consists of only a few Italian stores and restaurants. [2] 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.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Lower Manhattan Central business district in New York, United States

Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York, is the southernmost part of Manhattan, the central borough for business, culture, and government in the City of New York, which itself originated at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1624, at a point which now constitutes the present-day Financial District. The population of the Financial District alone has grown to an estimated 61,000 residents as of 2018, up from 43,000 as of 2014, which in turn was nearly double the 23,000 recorded at the 2000 Census.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Contents

History

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. [1] It is now only three blocks on Mulberry Street. [3] Little Italy originated as Mulberry Bend. Jacob Riis described Mulberry Bend as "the foul core of New York's slums." [4] During this time period "Immigrants of the late 19th century usually settled in ethnic neighborhoods". [5] Therefore, the "mass immigration from Italy during the 1880's" [6] 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". [7]

Mulberry Street (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

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.

Worth Street Street in Manhattan, New York

Worth Street is a two-way street running roughly northwest-southeast in Manhattan, New York City. It runs from Hudson Street, TriBeCa, in the west to Chatham Square in Chinatown in the east. Past Chatham Square, the roadway continues as Oliver Street, a north-south street running one-way northbound. Between West Broadway and Church Street, Worth Street is also known as Justice John M. Harlan Way in honor of the Supreme Court justice and alumnus of the nearby New York Law School. Between Centre and Baxter Streets, Worth Street is also known as the "Avenue of the Strongest", "New York's Strongest" being a nickname for the city's Department of Sanitation.

Houston Street Street in Manhattan, New York

Houston Street is a major east-west thoroughfare in downtown Manhattan, running crosstown across the full width of the island of Manhattan, from Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive and East River Park on the East River to Pier 40 and West Street on the Hudson River. It generally serves as the boundary between neighborhoods, with Alphabet City, the East Village, NoHo, Greenwich Village, and the West Village lying to the north of the street, and the Lower East Side, most of the Bowery, Nolita, and SoHo to the south. The numeric street-naming grid in Manhattan, created as part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, begins immediately north of Houston Street with 1st Street at Avenue A, although the grid does not fully come into effect until 13th Street.

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." [4] 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". [4] 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. [4] Tonnelli said that it meant "that residents began moving out to more spacious digs almost as soon as they arrived." [4] 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". [6]

<i>New York</i> (magazine) American magazine on life, culture, politics, and style, focusing on New York City

New York is an American biweekly magazine concerned with life, culture, politics, and style generally, and with a particular emphasis on New York City. Founded by Milton Glaser and Clay Felker in 1968 as a competitor to The New Yorker, it was brasher and less polite, and established itself as a cradle of New Journalism. Over time, it became more national in scope, publishing many noteworthy articles on American culture by writers such as Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Nora Ephron, John Heilemann, Frank Rich, and Rebecca Traister.

East Harlem Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio, is a neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, New York City, roughly encompassing the area north of the Upper East Side and East 96th Street up to roughly East 142nd Street east of Fifth Avenue to the East and Harlem Rivers. Despite its name, it is generally not considered to be a part of Harlem.

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." [4]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Lower East Side Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Lower East Side, sometimes abbreviated as LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan, roughly located between the Bowery and the East River, and Canal Street and Houston Street. Traditionally an immigrant, working class neighborhood, it began rapid gentrification in the mid-2000s, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is a borough of New York City coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States. It is New York City's most populous borough, with an estimated 2,504,700 residents in 2010. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island.

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." [4] 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." [4]

September 11 attacks Attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

Financial District, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Financial District of Lower Manhattan, also known as FiDi, is a neighborhood located on the southern tip of Manhattan island in New York City. It is bounded by the West Side Highway on the west, Chambers Street and City Hall Park on the north, Brooklyn Bridge on the northeast, the East River to the southeast, and The Battery on the south.

Park Row (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

Park Row is a street located in the Financial District, Civic Center, and Chinatown neighborhoods of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The street runs east-west, sometimes called north-south because the western end is nearer to Downtown Manhattan. At the north end of Park Row is the confluence of Bowery, East Broadway, St. James Place, Oliver Street, Mott Street, and Worth Street at Chatham Square. At the street's south end, Broadway, Vesey Street, Barclay Street, and Ann Street intersect. The intersection includes a bus turnaround loop designated as Millennium Park. Park Row was once known as Chatham Street; it was renamed Park Row in 1886, a reference to the fact that it faces City Hall Park, the former New York Common.

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." [4] 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. [8]

SoHo, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

SoHo, sometimes written Soho, is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, which in recent history came to the public's attention for being the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, but is now better known for its variety of shops ranging from trendy upscale boutiques to national and international chain store outlets. The area's history is an archetypal example of inner-city regeneration and gentrification, encompassing socioeconomic, cultural, political, and architectural developments.

In 2010, Little Italy and Chinatown were listed in a single historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. [9] Little Italy, by this point, was shrinking rapidly. [3]

Historic and current demographics

People in Little Italy celebrating, one hour after the Italian football team won the 2006 FIFA World Cup Littleitaly worldcup.JPG
People in Little Italy celebrating, one hour after the Italian football team won the 2006 FIFA World Cup

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. [10]

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. [4]

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." [11] 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." [11]

Cultural attractions

Mulberry Street in Little Italy Little Italy.JPG
Mulberry Street in Little Italy

Little Italy was home to dozens of restaurants that serve authentic Italian cuisine, but between March 2013 and March 2014, eight eateries closed down. [12]

Since 2004, Sorrento Lactalis funds neighborhood cultural events in Little Italy. [4]

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. [13] 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. [4]

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." [11]

Organized crime and the Mafia

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, [18] and the 1994 Luc Besson film Léon: The Professional , starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman. [19]

Other Italian American neighborhoods in New York City

Other Italian American neighborhoods in New York City include:

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Little Italy | Italy
  2. Little Italy NYC - The Official Website for New York City's Little Italy District
  3. 1 2 Briquelet, Kate (March 30, 2014). "Little Italy is on the brink of extinction". New York Post.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Tonelli, Bill. "Arrivederci, Little Italy." New York . September 27, 2004. p. 1. Retrieved on April 10, 2013.
  5. Jackson, Keller, Kenneth T, Lisa (2010). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, US: University Press via Yale.
  6. 1 2 Pretelli, Matteo (2014). Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference. pp. 1362–1363 via Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  7. Henderson, Matthew Adam (2006). Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West. SAGE Reference. pp. 411–413 via Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  8. "Littl-er Italy in NYC". ItalianAware. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  9. "National Register of Historic Places listings for February 19, 2010". National Park Service. February 19, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  10. Staff (May 31, 1896) "Little Italy in New-York" The New York Times p.32
  11. 1 2 3 Tonelli, Bill. "Arrivederci, Little Italy." New York . September 27, 2004. p. 2. Retrieved on April 10, 2013.
  12. http://ny.eater.com/archives/2014/03/rent_hikes_forcing_little_italy_restaurants_to_close.php
  13. Little Italy New York City
  14. Dickie, John. Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 170.
  15. McShane, Larry via Associated Press. "Matty 'The Horse' on His Last Ride", The Washington Post , March 4, 2007. Accessed December 23, 2017.
  16. Vitello, Paul. "Matthew Ianniello, the Mafia Boss Known as ‘Matty the Horse,’ Dies at 92", The New York Times , August 22, 2012. Accessed December 23, 2017. "His stake in one restaurant, Umberto's Clam House, in Little Italy, placed him at the scene of an infamous and legendary gangland murder on April 7, 1972, when the reputed Colombo crime family underboss Joey Gallo was riddled with bullets between courses of a late-night meal by four gunmen, in an intrafamily gang war. Mr. Ianniello, who then owned a hidden interest in Umberto's, was working in the kitchen at the time and was initially suspected of having some involvement in the hit. But he was never charged."
  17. Rabb, Selwyn. "John Gotti Running The Mob", The New York Times , April 2, 1989. Accessed December 23, 2017. "On Christmas Eve, a week after the double slaying, detectives concealed in a van in Little Italy witnessed a striking scene outside the Ravenite Social Club, Dellacroce's old headquarters, that confirmed what investigators had heard from informers: John Gotti was the new boss of the Gambino family."
  18. Wong, Edward. "Little Italy Journal; Reliving 'Mean Streets' In Open-Air Screenings", The New York Times , July 16, 2000. Accessed July 30, 2016. "For a taste of the old neighborhood, he had to walk over to the playground at Spring and Mulberry Streets to watch films like Mean Streets, the 1973 Martin Scorsese opus in which Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro play small-time wiseguys in Little Italy."
  19. Breihan, Tom. "The Professional Is Deeply Problematic, Profoundly Cool, And Very '90s", Deadspin , May 15, 2015. Accessed December 23, 2017. "The movie opens with a camera flying over Central Park, turning into a fisheye zoom-in on the Little Italy restaurant where Reno gets his contracts. When he's on a job, Reno's face emerges from shadows, then disappears again when he's made his point."