Where are the Italians in Little Italy?

Photo credit: Rutgers University

In 1950, half of the 10,000 New Yorkers living in Little Italy identify themselves as Italian-Americans. And the Italian language can actually be heard in the streets, since twenty percent of the population was born in Italy.

Fifty years after, in 2000, census discovered that the Italian-American population in the locale has declined to six percent and only 44 residents were born in the Motherland.

The most recent census, released last December, shows that amongst the 8,600 residents in the 50-square block, only five percent consider themselves Italian-Americans and none of them had been born in Italy.

Factors such as increased prosperity of Italian-Americans and receded immigration from Italy contributed to the dwindling population of residents of Italian descent. The decline, according to the Times, has begun since the 1960s.

Ernest Lepore, owner of an espresso and pastry shop his family opened 119 years ago, said that “when Italians made money they moved to Queens and New Jersey.”

According to the American Community Survey, out of the 8,600 residents living in the heart of Little Italy, almost half, 4,400 were foreign-born. Of those, nine out of ten were born in Asia.

Most of Little Italy these days is considered part of Chinatown, and the boundaries between the two neighborhoods might be erased one day. The impending creation of a Chinatown Business Improvement District will cover all but two square blocks of an area which once had the largest concentration of Italian immigrants in the United States.

<via New York Times>

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