Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Little Italy

Historically, or tourist-thought, Little Italy is the largest area of Italian communities in New York. I've come to falsify this and bring a bit of light when you go to New York and think about Little Italy.

Starting in the early 1900's, Little Italy was populated with mass amounts of Italian Immigrants, primarily because there was cheaper rents, job opportunities, many Italians already located there, and it was not too far off where the Italians had hit the island on their own. Not quite sure where else to head this was an ideal location for them. The neighborhood was massive, nearly all of what is the Lower East Side was once this "Little Italy" or as some reffered it to, sadly as a "Ghetto" or "Slum"

Indeed, there were many poor immigrants in the area but it remained alive with culture and festivity. Many Italians found themselves opening shops and the fine smells that wafted from the restaurants, delis, bakeries, and the pastry shops was quite the delight. Parades were held a couple times a year and the area was bustling with market.

After World War II people began to see changes in Little Italy. Many Italians, having their family businesses open for such long periods of time found themselves with enough money to move to suburbs, like Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and parts of Long Island, like Franklin Square, Hempstead, and a few more. During the 70's and 80's there was much more of a "Migration" to these areas, and the Italian community within Little Italy had dwindled. The new and much more dense population of Asians had begun to move into the area, thus giving a change from "Little Italy" to Chinatown. There was always such a Chinatown, but the roles have much reversed. Chinatown, starting in the early 1900's, was only a spec in the middle of Little Italy, but now, these present days, Chinatown is now the conglomerate and Little Italy is only 4 blocks long.

The Little Italy now is just kept for name sake. You'll see some restaraunts dotted and some gelato stalls and possibly even a bakery, but it's all a tourist trap these days. It is all owned and run by the Asians whom live within a couple blocks, and most of it is now touristy shops, selling those "I <3 New York" shirts.

Eh. You can find your better pasta, pizza, gelato, cannolis elsewhere in the city. Try Brooklyn for Pastries or Pizza. But I do find the restaraunt now in the "Heart" of Little Italy not so bad. If you just want to see those flags hanging from the tenements then there's no one stopping you. But it may not be as one whom glorifies Little Italy as it's former self.

EDIT: Here's a picture I found! 



Steph (Twirling in a Red Dress) said...

Aww I always liked Little Italy, but you're probably right - definitely better food elsewhere in NYC. Nice post!

pv said...

awesome, i been a couple times to little italy, I live in nyc and can check it out anytime hehe

To Tipota said...

Well it's easier for me to go to Sicily and have cannolis than go to NYC's little Italy, as i'm situated in Greece right now. Great post.

ZIane said...

I'm soooo far away from NYC and Italy, I couldn't tell the difference because I've never been there

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