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Home outside Italy: Little Italy, New York

Home outside Italy: Little Italy, New York

In the dense populated city of New York, away from the busy streets and the honking cars lies the narrow streets of Little Italy. The melodic Italian songs and streets hustling with children is a common sight in the neighbourhood of Little Italy. In the 1950’s, it was estimated that more than 10,000 New Yorkers who live in the small part of the town called Little Italy were Italian-Americans. But, a later census in 2000 has revealed that only 6 percent of the entire population were Italian born, which makes it only 44 people when compared to the 2,150 odd people who were identified as Italian born half a century earlier. Though the population has been decreasing with time, the culture and the traditional way of Italian living has never been touched in this part of Manhattan.


This part of the city is placed right on the Mulberry Street and it extends towards the south up to the Canal Street. To the north is the Kenmare Street and to the west is the Lafayette and to its east lies Bowery. The history of Little Italy states that this part of the town was a Neapolitan village and it had everything of its own, including the customs, financial and cultural institutions. As a matter of fact, this part of the town was not home to the largest population of Italians in New York as the East Harlem had more Italians than Little Italy had.  Soon after the World War II got over, many of the people in Little Italy started moving out to other parts of America such as Long Island, New Jersey Etc. In addition to this, the Immigration Act of 1965 removed many immigration restrictions which made sure that the Chinese people started to move inside the United States of America. This led to the increased fame of the Chinatown and it started to defame the part of the town which was home to the Italians, Little Italy.


One of the most famous commemoration in this part of the city is the Feast of San Gennaro. It is celebrated as a religious commemoration which took place for a single day. This event is celebrated to mark the arrival of San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. People of Italian origin gather in the streets of Mulberry in Manhattan to mark this event and celebrate the occasion with their fellow country mates. However, the Feast of San Gennaro has moved on to be a large street festival among the Italians and it now lasts for about 11 days in the month of September in the streets of Mulberry between the Canal Streets and Houston. This festival marks the annual Italian-American and Italian tradition and cultural heritage. Further down the years, after the advent of Mart Berkowitz as the head of the community, the group has taken the feast to a whole new level of celebration. After that, the group has been involved in doing other recreational activities during other festivals including the Christmas events, Columbus Day and other summer activities as well.


So, with enough information about the history of Little Italy, without much delay, let us get into the detail as to why one has to visit Little Italy in Manhattan. One of the primary reasons as to why one should visit this part of the town is the architecture. The Italian architecture is known for its beauty and the tall structures with the beautiful cornices which are made up of ornate make it a visual treat to the human eyes. Not only these, but the plain tenements here in this part, which are a blend of Italian and American architecture is a treat as well. It is a matter of fact that the glass tenements formed a part of the building, but these days only a few of these buildings are visible to the human eye. The look into the sky will reveal the beautiful Italian stone work and iron work, with the occasional gargoyle.


Not only the architecture, but the Italian food speaks for itself as well. In case you walk in the neighbourhood of Little Italy, you will find many street food stalls which serve some of the tastiest food in the entire city. And, if you are a fan of the Italian cuisine, then there is no other place in the city rather than Little Italy to enjoy the lip smacking food. People from all around New York visit this part of Manhattan, just to have the authentic taste of Italian food. There are more than 36 restaurants in Little Italy which serve Italian food. Most of these restaurants have very little seating capacity and it is always good that you do reservation before planning for a trip to one of these restaurants. Well, now that you are in Little Italy, don’t overlook the numerous bakeries that you sight in Little Italy. Some of the best authentic bakery items are available in these bakeries. You can also buy some of these items back home so that you can treat them with some authentic Italian snacks as well.

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