New York City is one of the most global metropolises on the planet, practically synonymous with the virtues of immigration. For centuries, the city has been an entry point for immigrants seeking out better lives and a pursuit of the ‘American Dream’. The city is a vibrant melting pot of different cultures from all corners of the world and one of the most essential cities in the world regarding the immigrant experience.
New York City has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, with 1.1 million residents, encompassing 13% of the city’s total population. Consequently, Jewish New Yorkers hold a significant cultural contribution to the city’s identity.
Jewish immigration to New York City has a long and extensive history stretching back several hundred years to the city’s time under Dutch rule. The first Jew to settle in the city was Jacob Barsimon, an emissary of the Dutch West Indies Company. Conflict between the Portuguese and the Dutch in Brazil prompted the Dutch Jews of these colonies to flee, with many settling in New Amsterdam over Amsterdam due to the closer proximity. The population, despite dealing with oppressive laws, slowly grew in the city with the first synagogue opening in 1682.
While the initial Jewish population was predominantly comprised of Sephardi Jews (of Iberian origin), the city soon attracted a significant influx of Ashkenazim Jews (of Eastern European origin). Ashkenazim Jews quickly outnumbered the Sephardi Jewish population and became the dominant Jewish diaspora within the city. This population increased significantly following the major displacement in Germany and Poland caused by the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th Century. It was at this point in time when the Jewish population of the city began to significantly increase, as indicated by the establishment of a number of synagogues of the various denominations.
The Jewish population, with a strong foundation now in place, grew considerably towards the end of the 19th Century. This immigration was mainly comprised of Eastern European Jews, particularly those under the rule of the Russian Empire. The assassination of Tsar Alexander II catalysed a flare-up in tensions between ethnic minorities and stirred up nationalistic sentiments. The Jewish population in particular were singled out and subjected to brutal pogroms. Far from acts of spontaneous violent anti-Semitism, these were often sanctioned and supported by the government. This hostile atmosphere encouraged significant waves of Jewish emigration from the territories of the Russian Empire, including modern-day Russia, Poland and Ukraine.
Over one million Eastern European Jews arrived in New York at the end of the 19th Century and at the beginning of the 20th Century, in part due to the pre-existing Ashkenazim Jewish population as well as due to the more general global trend of immigration to the United States. The Jewish community continued to grow and thrive thereafter and many Jewish businesses, restaurants and community organisations were set up.
The Jewish population largely settled around the Lower East Side region of the city, particularly in the neighbourhoods of Greenwich Village. While the Jewish population of New York City is dispersed throughout the city in modern times, the Lower East Side retains some of its former cultural identity. There are a wealth of Jewish cultural sites and buildings which have been protected and preserved from the rampant gentrification of the area.
Despite this dispersion, the Jewish community of New York City is one of its most significant cultural minorities, having carved out a unique, new identity of its own. The city is a haven for a population, which has been met with considerable oppression and mistreatment for millennia and is without a doubt the most important Jewish cultural centre outside of Israel.
Top Five Restaurants
Jewish cuisine is notably diverse and difficult to define. It ranges from Middle Eastern to Eastern European in its stylistic interpretations. Given the overwhelming Ashkenazim majority of the Jewish population, the Jewish cuisine of New York is heavily rooted in Eastern European traditions although alternative styles also exist.
- Russ & Daughters
Address: 179 E Houston St, 10002
Opening Hours: 8am-6pm, 8am-7pm (Thursday)
One of New York City’s most iconic and enduring Jewish food emporiums, Russ & Daughters has been a staple of the Jewish community for over a century. Established in 1994, the emporium specialises in cured meats and fish, but offers a host of other options. The original shop remains open today, with two cafes being established in recent years.
- Katz’s Delicatessen
Address: 205 E Houston St, 10002
Opening Hours: 8am-10.45pm (Monday-Wednesday), 8am-2.45am (Thursday), 8am-12am (Friday) 24 Hours (Saturday), 12am-10.45pm (Sunday)
One of the most well-known and well-regarded Jewish delis in the world, Katz’s is best known for its sandwiches, particularly its pastrami-on-rye variant, which is considered to be the best in the country. In business since 1888, it is one of the most long-lasting and popular Jewish restaurants in the world.
Address: 2245 Broadway, 10024
Opening Hours: 8am-7.30pm (Monday-Friday), 8am-8pm (Saturday), 9am-6pm (Sunday)
One of the Upper West Side’s most notable Jewish food icons, Zabar’s was established in the early 20th Century and remains one of the most popular Jewish culinary experiences in the city, an enduring outlier from the historic hub of the Lower East Side.
- Mile End Deli
Address: 97 Hoyt St, Brooklyn, 11217
Opening Hours: 8am-4pm (Monday), 8am-10pm (Tuesday-Thursday), 8am-11pm (Friday), 10am-11pm (Saturday), 10am-10pm (Sunday)
One of the more recent Jewish delis, Mile End Delicatessen has quickly earned considerable popularity and acclaim since its establishment in 2010. Known for its specialised focus on Montreal-style Jewish cuisine, it is a bold and unique newcomer to New York’s Jewish food scene.
Address: 45 Spring St 10012
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm
While the majority of New York’s Jewish restaurants and delicatessens focus on kosher food from the city’s Ashkenazi population, Taim showcases a different side to Jewish cuisine, focusing on Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel.
Top Five Things to Do
- Jewish Museum
Address: 1109 5th Ave & E 92nd St, New York, NY 10128
Opening Hours: 11am-5.45pm (Monday-Tuesday, Friday-Sunday), 11am-8pm (Thursday)
One of the city’s most notable museums, the Jewish Museum is amongst the oldest and richest of its kind. Filled to the brim with a wealth of Jewish artworks and artefacts, the Jewish Museum focuses on the long and extensive history of Jewish culture throughout the world. In one of the most important Jewish centres on the planet, this is an essential cultural institution.
- Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Address: 103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 10am-6.30pm (Monday-Friday, Sunday), 10am-8.30pm (Thursday)
Located in the heart of the historically Jewish Lower East Side neighbourhood of Manhattan, the Tenement Museum is one of the most unique and insightful museums in the country. The museum’s mission statement is to offer an informative, positive perspective on immigration and to promote the ideals of tolerance.
- The Museum at Eldridge Street
Address: 12 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 10am-3pm (Friday)
Located in a renovated former synagogue, the Museum at Eldridge Street is one of the most spectacular religious buildings in the city. Formerly one of the oldest and most important synagogues in the city, it was established by the city’s Ashkenazim community. It fell into disrepair in the mid-20th Century but was revitalised following an extensive and expensive restoration project, which was completed in 2007. The museum open inside the building offers insightful tours into the building’s history as well as into the wider history of the Jewish American community.
- Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum
Address: 260 Broome St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: N/A
One of the most unique and important synagogues in the city, Kehila Kedosha Janina is the Western Hemisphere’s only Romaniote synagogue. Romaniote Jews are those hailing from the Eastern Mediterranean region, particularly Greece. The population was significantly decimated during the Second World War. As a result, this synagogue is of considerable cultural importance.
- Angel Orensanz Centre
The oldest surviving synagogue in the city, the building formerly known as the Anshe Chesed Synagogue dates back to 1849. The building is known for its distinct Gothic Revival architecture. It functioned as an Orthodox synagogue for nearly a century before falling into disrepair and becoming a target of vandalism. It was purchased by Jewish Spanish artist. Angel Orensanz, who renovated the building and turned it into a cultural centre. Additionally, it functions as the shul of a liberal Reform synagogue.
The Puerto Rican community of New York is one of the most sizeable immigrant populations in the city, encompassing 9% of the city’s total population. With a long and extensive past, Puerto Rican immigration to New York City is a rich historical narrative, which coincided with some of the most significant events of the 20th Century.
Puerto Rican immigration to New York City can be traced back to as early as the mid-19th Century when the island was still a Spanish province. A major trading network opened between Puerto Rico and the cities of the United States’ East Coast. This caused immigration patterns to slowly form between the two. Many Puerto Rican freedom fighters found themselves turning to the United States upon being exiled by the Spanish government, mainly settling in New York.
The Spanish-American War saw Puerto Rico fall under the dominion of the United States, which initially curbed political immigration. However, the turn of the 20th Century saw many new developments. Despite now being effectively under American rule, Puerto Ricans were labeled foreigners by the United States Treasury Department. It was not until 20 years later in 1917 upon the implementation of the Jones-Shafroth Act that Puerto Ricans were finally recognised as American citizens. This encouraged a renewed wave of immigration to New York City and other American cities. Many arrived in search of better employment opportunities or to escape the rampant natural disasters and political unease plaguing Puerto Rico.
Despite facing numerous issues in the city such as discrimination, cultural and language barriers and technical difficulties, a large and close-knit community formed in East Harlem. Unrest emerged during the Great Depression as job opportunities grew increasingly scarce, culminating in the ‘Harlem Riots’ of 1926.
The aftermath of the Second World War saw the most significant wave of Puerto Rican immigration in history. A combination of factors, including the advent of air travel, the Great Depression and the Second World War, contributed to a significant population movement. The Great Depression had effectively crippled Puerto Rico’s economy due to the island’s financial dependance on the United States. The major job shortage saw many Puerto Ricans flee for better opportunities in the United States. This was further enabled by the emergence of affordable air travel. The Second World War meanwhile, served as a major outlet for Puerto Rican immigrants who struggled to secure employment amid the economic depression. In addition to the demand for soldiers, there was a major employment vacuum in the United States due to the majority of males fighting abroad. Thus, several Puerto Rican immigrants were employed across the manufacturing industry as well as a number of other fields.
This period has been dubbed as ‘the Great Migration’, and saw a significant community of Puerto Ricans emerge within New York City as well as in other major American cities. In New York City, Puerto Rican immigrants became known as ‘Nuyoricans’, such was their prevalence throughout the city. Distinct neighbourhoods began to form around enclaves of Puerto Rican migrants such as ‘Spanish Harlem’ and ‘Loisada’. Solidarity movements developed as the population continued to settle within the city and sought to combat oppression and prejudice. A failed Puerto Rican assassination plot against President Harry Truman intensified anti-Puerto Rican sentiments within the United States.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, another significant wave of Puerto Rican immigrants arrived in New York City, with around 100,000 arriving in the decade following World War II. Despite continued oppression, positive signs emerged within the burgeoning ‘Nuyorican’ movement, which formed in the Loisada neighbourhood. A major intellectual subculture began to develop amongst Puerto Ricans, the nexus of which being the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a historically preserved landmark.
With the Puerto Rican population now a significant ethnic minority within the city, a dispersion began in the 1960’s as the immigrants began to experience increased financial prosperity. Many left the barrios of the city for more suburban regions of New York such as Long Island and Westchester County. There was a major influx of Latinx immigrants from other countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The remainder of the 20th Century saw a reduction in Puerto Rican immigration to the United States. However, this has increased significantly since the beginning of the 21st Century due to economic considerations.
Spanish Harlem remains a major population stronghold of the Puerto Rican communtiy, but it has expanded throughout the city. Bushwick is a major hub in Brooklyn, as our other neighbourhoods such as Williamsburg, Red Hook, Staten Island, South Bronx and Ridgewood. The total population of Puerto Ricans in the city is estimated at nearly 750,000, representing an important and essential part of the city’s cultural character.
Top Five Restaurants
Puerto Rican cuisine is a thoroughly unique style of cooking that differs significantly from other Latin American countries. It is notable for its diverse range of influences which include Spanish, African, native Taino and American. It is not dissimilar from the cuisine of other Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean but carves out a thoroughly unique identity. Dishes are often meat-heavy and crammed with a delicious array of spices. The country’s most iconic dish is Mogongo, a mound of mashed, fried plantains served in an array of condiments such as pork crackling. Few dishes better exemplify the combination of Spanish, Caribbean and African influences than this.
- The Freakin Rican Restaurant
Address: 4306 34th Ave, Astoria, NY 11101
Opening Hours: 12pm-9pm (Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday), 12pm-10pm (Friday-Saturday)
One of the most authentic and reasonably priced Puerto Rican restaurants in the city, ‘The Freakin Rican Restaurant’ is a labour of love. Established by a group of Puerto Rican immigrants from South Bronx, this is the best place to sample Puerto Rican food in the borough of Queens.
- Casa Adela
Address: 66 Avenue C, New York, 10009
Opening Hours: 8am-10pm
A true Puerto Rican institution, Casa Adela is one of the finest neighbourhood restaurants in the former Nuyorican stronghold of the East Village. A family-run enterprise specialising in rotisserie chicken, it offers delicious food, great value-for-money and boasts a celebrity clientele.
- Pasteles Cristina
Address: 130-09 95th Ave, Jamaica, NY 11419
Opening Hours: 8am-8pm
Another Queens institution, Pasteles Cristina is a Puerto Rican restaurant and bakery specialising in the eponymous ‘Pasteles’, a delicious traditional Latin American savoury pastry. Common fillings include plantain, potato and various meats. There is no better place to try them in the city than Pasteles Cristina.
- Camaradas El Barrio
Address: 2241 1st Avenue, New York 10029
Opening Hours: 3pm-1am (Tuesday, Sunday), 3pm-3am (Wednesday-Saturday)
For those looking for a livelier Puerto Rican experience, this East Harlem restaurant is the place to go. In addition to delicious, authentic food, Camaradas El Barrio also features regular live music performances that go on into the late hours of the night.
- La Fonda Boricua
Address: 169 E 106th St, New York 10029
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm
Another community staple of the El Barrio in East Harlem, La Food Boricua is located in a former diner and specialises in authentic, homemade Puerto Rican cuisine while also hosting live music nights every Thursday.
Top Five Things To Do
- Puerto Rican Day Parade
Opening Hours: N/A
One of New York City’s most distinct and celebratory cultural events, the Puerto Rican Day Parade has been held every year since 1958 as a celebration of the city’s Puerto Rican immigrant community. One of the city’s largest parades, it is believed to draw nearly 2 million spectators. While other ‘Puerto Rican Day’ parades occur throughout the country, this is by a considerable distance the biggest and the most culturally significant due to the size of the Puerto Rican population in New York City.
- El Museo del Barrio
Address: 1230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
Opening Hours: 11am-6pm (Wednesday-Saturday), 12pm-5pm (Sunday)
Established in 1969, El Museo is known for its focus on Latin American and Caribbean Art. Due to the significant Puerto Rican population in the city, much of the museum’s content is comprised of works from people of Puerto Rican descent. It has an extensive collection of nearly 9,000 pieces and hosts a regular rotation of exhibitions. Established to fill a vacuum in the lack of cultural diversity in the arts, it has emerged as one of the city’s most fascinating and informative cultural spaces.
- Caribbean Cultural Centre African Diaspora Institute
Address: 120 E 125th St, New York, NY 10035
Opening Hours: 11am-6pm (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), 11am-8pm (Thursday), 11am-3pm (Saturday)
Despite being established over 40 years ago in 1976, the Caribbean Cultural Centre African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) opened its first permanent home in 2016.Located in the historic East Harlem Museum, it is a testament to the city’s Latinx and African American cultures, the former of which the city’s Puerto Rican community comprise a significant majority.
- Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Address: 236 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009
Opening Hours: N/A
The most quintessential cultural site of the ‘Nuyorican’ movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Poets Cafe was established in the East Village in 1973 and attracted a number of esteemed Puerto Rican intellectuals and artists. It played host to poetry readings and musical performances. It remains a major cultural institution today, hosting a range of different artistic showcases.
- Casa Latina Music
Address: 151 E 116th #A, New York, NY 10029
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm (Monday-Saturday)
A real hidden gem, this is a family-owned establishment in Spanish Harlem which sells vintage Latin American records as well as a number of culturally-specific instruments such as Spanish guitars and the congos.
One of Manhattan’s most culturally significant neighbourhoods, ‘Little Italy’ is the historical hub of the city’s Italian community. New York City boasts the highest concentration of Italian Americans in the country and is home to the third largest Italian population outside of Italy, outnumbered only by those in Sao Paolo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina. At the turn of the 21st Century, there were over 680,000 people in the city of Italian ancestry, the largest European enclave in New York. Italian Americans form a major part of the city’s culture and history and are without a doubt one of its most notable immigrant populations.
Italian immigration to New York City is one of America’s most definitive and successful immigration stories. It began towards the end of the 19th Century, peaking at the beginning of the 20th Century. Indeed, between 1900 and 1915 it was estimated that 3 million Italians immigrated to the United States, often through New York City where many settled. Initially, the majority of Italian immigrants hailed from the South of the country, most often Sicily. Many of these were from working class backgrounds, specialising in labor and craftsmanship.
Many Italians arrived in New York City due to deteriorating conditions in Italy. The agricultural industry was suffering due to rampant droughts and disease. The ongoing industrial revolution in the United States presented valuable opportunities to increase one’s fortune and encouraged waves of Italian immigration. This increased as the 20th Century progressed and the Italian political situation intensified with the rise of fascism. Many families who moved temporarily to make money quickly instead decided to stay permanently.
As Italian immigration to New York City and the United States increased, people from throughou the country began to arrive, including from the North. Italian immigrants in New York were illiterate and hailed from more rural, agricultural backgrounds, which at first glance made them ill-suited to the increasingly frantic pace of urban life in New York City but this was not the case.
As the Italian population increased, reaching nearly 400,000 by the 1920’s, burgeoning communities began to develop around East Harlem and notably the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where the now-famous ‘Little Italy’ was established. ‘Little Italy’ blossomed into a rich tapestry of Italian cultures, divided into regions of origin. For instance, the Sicilian migrants stuck together ion Elizabeth Street while the Genovese made Baxter Street their home. The neighbourhood replicated the experience of Italy on a small and intimate yet authentic scale.
Italians quickly became one of New York City’s most ubiquitous and prevalent immigrant populations and made an increasingly significant cultural contribution to the city’s burgeoning multicultural identity. Italian cuisine quickly became synonymous with the city’s multi-faceted culinary culture.
‘Little Italy’ was very much ground zero for the thriving Italian American community in the early 20th Century, but the population dispersed throughout the city as the century progressed and the community became increasingly assimilated. Many Italian American families made new homes in the city’s other boroughs such as Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, particularly the latter which is 55% Italian American. Major Italian American communities include Arthur Avenue, East Bronx (The Bronx), Bay Ridge, Cobble Hill (Brooklyn), Corona Heights, Forest Hills (Queens), Grasmere and South Beach (Staten Island).
While ‘Little Italy’ is no longer the nucleus of the Italian American community of New York as it was a century ago, it remains a vital aspect of the city’s history and still retains its distinct identity, as its wealth of Italian restaurants and businesses show.
Top Five Restaurants
Italian cuisine is amongst the most ubiquitous and popular cooking styles on the planet, prevalent throughout the world even in areas with no major Italian population. Italian food is best known for its simplicity and emphasis on fresh ingredients and produce rather than elaborate preparation. It is this accessibility in addition to its tastiness which has made it so popular throughout the world. New York is home to some of the finest Italian food out of Italy and a hub of culinary innovation and ingenuity. The Italian American population in the city is well-known for its strict adherence to the culinary traditions of its forefathers.
- Da Nico
Address: 164 Mulberry St, New York 10013
Opening Hours: 12pm-10.30pm (Monday-Friday, Sunday), 12pm-11.30pm (Saturday)
Arguably the definitive Italian restaurant of ‘Little Italy’, Da Nico is known for its vast array of traditional dishes and bustling, authentic atmosphere. An added bonus is its large garden which provides an al fresco dining experience in the warmer months of the year.
- Emilio’s Ballato
Address: 55 E Houston St, New York 10012
Opening Hours: 12pm-11pm (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 12pm-12am (Friday-Saturday)
One of the city’s finest Italian culinary institutions (of which there are many), this restaurant is notably difficult to get a table at and attracts a wealth of celebrity guests such as Barack Obama and Rihanna. It offers some of the finest Italian food in the city and has a low-key, authentic atmosphere.
Address: 235 Mulberry St, New York 10012
Opening Hours: 11.30am-11pm (Monday-Wednesday, Sunday), 11.30am-12am (Thursday-Saturday)
Technically in the Nolita neighbourhood, Rubirosa is one of the city’s finest family0run Italian restaurants, known for its simple, traditional dishes. Established by an esteemed Staten Island Italian-American family, it is one of the city’s best.
Address: 32 Spring St New York 10012
Opening Hours: 11.30am-11pm (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 11.30am-12am (Thursday-Friday)
The first pizzeria in the country, this is one of the city’s most legendary Italian restaurants. Over 100 years old, the restaurant was set up in 1905 and remains one of the most enduring and iconic pizzerias in the world.
- Il Cortile
Address: 4603, 125 Mulberry St, New York 10013
Opening Hours: 12pm-10pm
Specialising in the cuisine of Northern Italy, this is one of Manhattan’s most unique Italian restaurants. In addition to its brilliant and authentic food, it is also known for its idyllic garden setting.
Top Five Things to Do
- Italian American Museum
Address: 155 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: N/A
Opened in 2001, the Italian American Museum is located in the historic heart of ‘Little Italy’ and despite its small size is a hugely informative insight into the history of Italian immigration to New York City. One of the major cultural highlights of the neighbourhood.
- E. Rossi and Company
Address: 3717, 193 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 2pm-9pm (Monday-Saturday), 1pm-9pm (Sunday)
An enduring staple of the neighbourhood, E. Rossi & Company was established in 1910 and remains a major tourism attraction of ‘Little Italy’, selling a variety of Italian goods and gifts. A cultural treasure trove of all things Italian.
- Di Palo’s Fine Foods
Address: 200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 9am-7pm (Monday-Saturday), 9am-5pm (Sunday)
One of the city’s finest specialty food stores, there is no better place in town to get your hands on the highest quality Italian ingredients, including cheeses, cured meats and hand-made pastas. An eye-watering delight.
- Alleva Dairy
Address: 188 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 9am-7pm
Another iconic specialty food store in ‘Little Italy’, Alleva Dairy offers a wide range of different foods but its speciality is important Italian cheeses. There are few, if any better places in the city for this.
- Ferrara’s Bakery and Cafe
Address: 195 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 9am-11pm (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 9am-12am (Friday-Saturday)
One of ‘Little Italy’s’ most enduring outposts, the Ferrara Bakery and Cafe has been in business since the early days of Italian immigration in 1892 and remains an essential part of the community. Still family-owned-and-operated to this day, it offers the finest Italian baked goods in the city.
New York City is home to the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. The city’s Chinese population is estimated at around 812,000. The city itself is home to six distinct Chinatowns and six more exist in the greater metropolitan area. The city and the surrounding area is amongst the most vital and vibrant Chinese cultural centres in the world.
Chinese immigration to New York City began in as early as the mid-18th Century. However, this population was known for its transience, with very few Chinese immigrants settling in one place, often moving towards the best working opportunities. As most of the Chinese immigrants in the United States were labourers, many were drawn westwards to major opportunities such as the Californian Gold Rush and the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad.
As the opportunities on the West Coast dried up and the pioneering industry began to decline, more permanent communities were established throughout the globe. In the West Coast, Chinese immigrants were met with considerable hostility and oppression. The establishment of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, a racist law prohibiting Chinese immigration had a significant effect on the communities in America, particularly on the West Coast which saw a major decline in Chinese immigration.
Despite this knock-on effect, which significantly reduced Chinese immigration to the United States, significant enclaves had already formed in major urban centres such as New York City. The Five Points neighbourhood emerged as a major Chinese hub in the city by the 1870’s and continued to slowly grow despite the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The first permanent Chinese settler in New York City is thought to be Ah Ken, a Cantonese businessman, who established a cigar shop in Park Row, modern-day Chinatown. Following his arrival, a community developed in Five Points, facilitating the establishment of Chinese restaurants and businesses to cater to the influx of immigration.
In the decade prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act, the population had increased significantly from little more than 200 to over 2000. Despite this rapid growth, there was a major gender disparity and the population was overwhelmingly male due to many of the immigrants being labourers.
Despite the escalation of racial tensions following the Chinese Exclusion Act, a sense of solidarity emerged within the Chinese population in New York, as several community organisations formed to combat unrest. Chinatown became synonymous with ‘tongs’, a variety of community associations both (clan associations) legitimate and illegitimate (crime syndicates). Tensions emerged between numbers of gangs, which culminated in all-out gang war.
The next major development in New York’s Chinese community occurred in the aftermath of the Second World War when the Chinese Exclusion Act was finally lifted. This encouraged a resurgence of Chinese immigration to the United States and pre-existing communities such as that in New York slowly expanded. China’s immigration quota was however very small, which prevented significant growth. That being said, the population did grow and businesses expanded. Particularly prominent were Chinese laundromats, restaurants and garment-manufacturers. The majority of Chinese immigrants in the city at this point hailed from the mainland as opposed to wealthier regions such as Taiwan.
The Chinese population in the city, and by extension in the rest of the country, exploded following the implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which finally put an end to the various racially-charged American immigration policies. Wave after wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in New York City and the pre-existing community of Manhattan’s Chinatown grew considerably. The initial wave were predominantly Cantonese speakers hailing from Guandong and Hong Kong. The community grew increasingly complex as more and more Chinese immigrants arrived in the city. The population dispersed throughout the city and new communities began to form.
Within the limits of Chinatown itself, Little Fuzhou was formed in the 1980’s as Chinese immigration diversified. Mainly consisting of Mandarin-speaking immigrants from the Fuzhou region, this community differs significantly in a cultural and linguistic sense from the Cantonese-dominated Chinatown, something which hampered integration. This signified the increasing diversity of the Chinese community within New York as well as its rapidly growing size.
The latter half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century saw New York’s Chinese population establish a number of additional enclaves outside of the original Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. The neighbourhood became increasingly gentrified, which saw major populations shift towards the outer boroughs. Queens in particular emerged as a major hub of the city’s Chinese population. The neighbourhood of Flushing is home to one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing Chinatowns in the world, home to over 30,000 people of Chinese birth. Initially a predominantly Taiwanese community, it became a haven for non-Cantonese Chinese people and developed into a major Mandarin hotspot in the city. Additional enclaves in Queens include Corona, Whitestone and Elmhurst, which continue to grow. While they are all Mandarin-dominated, they are home to a number of other Chinese minorities.
Brooklyn also became a major hotspot for the growing Chinese population. With gentrification increasing in Manhattan, the Fuzhou population came under increasing economic pressure and eventually relocated en masse to the burgeoning Brooklyn Chinatown. Freed from the confines of the expensive and Cantonese-dominated Chinatown in Manhattan, the Fuzhou community grew and developed at an increased rate in the Sunset Park neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Additional hubs emerged in nearby neighbourhoods such as Bay Ridge and Coney Island.
In modern times, Queens is the main centre for the Chinese community with a total population of 237,000. Brooklyn has 206,000 and Manhattan has 108,000. Smaller communities exist in Staten Island (14,000) and The Bronx (7,000). This demonstrates the sheer prevalence of the Chinese community in the city and its integration. Despite there being a number of Chinese ethnic enclaves, these are dotted throughout the city and illustrate their importance to the city’s cultural identity.
Top Five Restaurants
Chinese cuisine is amongst the most diverse on the planet, varying significantly from region to region. Given the sheer size of the country, there is a wide range of different cultures and peoples, something which is reflected through its cuisine. Given the prevalence of the Chinese diaspora, the country’s cuisine has become hugely popular throughout the world and is a major success in Chinese assimilation abroad. The predominant style of cooking known to those outside of China is Cantonese cuisine, which is mainly focused on small dishes known as dim sum. Sichuan cuisine is also highly popular, known for its bold flavours and heavy reliance on chili and garlic. The other members of the ‘Eight Great Traditions’ are Fujian, Hunan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui. There is a wealth of lesser-known cuisines such as Xinjiang, a Middle-Eastern-influenced cuisine from the country’s Northeast and Tibetan. It is impossible and ignorant to simply categorise Chinese food given its depth, but New York City is one of the best places to experience the cuisine in all its forms.
- DaXi Sichuan
Address: 136-20 Roosevelt Ave #2R, Flushing, NY, 11354
Opening Hours: 11am-2am
A hugely popular Sichuan restaurant in the Queens Chinatown in Flushing. Popular dishes include pork ribs and kung pao shrimp.
- Mission Chinese
Address: 171 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-11pm (Monday-Saturday), 12pm-4pm, 5.30pm-11pm (Saturday-Sunday)
One of the most unique Chinese restaurants in the city. Known for its experimental dishes.
- Great NY Noodle Town
Address: 28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 9am-4am
A no-frills mainstay of Manhattan’s Chinatown best-known for its hand-pulled noodles, soups and seafood dishes.
- Lan Sheng
Address: 128 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm (Monday-Friday), 11.30am-10pm (Saturdday-Sunday)
A highly-renowned Sichuan restaurant with an extensive menu and one Michelin star.
- Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen
Address: 401 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014
Opening Hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm (Monday-Thursday), 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm (Friday-Sunday)
One of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Manhattan, specialising in regional dishes.
Top Five Things to Do
- Museum of Chinese in America
Address: 215 Centre St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 11am-6pm (Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday), 11am-9pm (Thursday)
One of the most important cultural centres for the Chinese community in New York. The museum specialises in Chinese American history and features a rotating series of exhibitions.
- Aji Ichiban
Address: 37 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
Opening Hours: 10am-7pm (Monday-Friday), 10am-8pm (Saturday-Sunday)
A major confectionary chain from Hong Kong, there is a New York location in the Manhattan Chinatown’s Mott Street.
- Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association
Address: 133 Canal St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 8.30am-6pm
Located in Manhattan Chinatown’s heart of Canal Street, this Buddhist temple is a major religious centre for the Chinese community.
- Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng
Address: 135-18 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354
Opening Hours: 10am-8pm
The New York location of the major Chinese tea producer, this is the best place in the city to buy tea products.
- Fei Long Market
Address: 6301 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220
Opening Hours: 8am-9pm
A staple of Brooklyn’s Chinatown, Fei Long Market is a large grocery store specialising in Chinese foods unlikely to be found elsewhere.
New York City is home to one of the largest Filipino populations outside of the Philippines. The New York metropolitan area is home to over 260,000 Filipinos. The city has a thriving Filipino community as reflected by the many businesses and restaurants.
Filipino immigration to New York City can be traced back to as early as the turn of the 20th Century in the wake of the Spanish-American War, which saw the country ceded to the United States after centuries of Spanish rule. Following this, many Filipinos immigrated to the United States, particularly to Hawaii and the West Coast due to proximity and the burgeoning agricultural industry. Major communities began to form in these states but many Filipinos settled in New York City, albeit to a lesser extent. Another major wave of Filipino immigration to the United States occurred in the wake of the Second World War, although few settled in as far as the East Coast.
It was not until the aftermath of the 1965 Immigration Act, which removed the racially-motivated restrictions on immigration to the United States. This saw a renewed influx of Filipino immigration to the United States, far beyond the major population centres in California and Hawaii. To put in perspective the extent of Filipino immigration to New York City during this period, the population numbered at around 2,800 in 1960 and increased to over 14,000 by 1970.
The majority of initial Filipino immigrants in New York City and the surrounding areas were from more affluent backgrounds and were predominantly in the field of healthcare. Following short periods of successful integration they were able to sponsor their families to relocate to the city permanently. As a result, New York’s Filipino population is of a higher socioeconomic status than those elsewhere in the United States and throughout the western world.
There are a number of Filipino enclaves throughout the city and its surrounding areas. New Jersey is known for its particularly large Filipino population, particularly in Jersey City. In the city itself however, Queens is home to a large community, mainly clustered in the ‘Little Manila’ of the Woodside neighbourhood. The area is dominated by an array of Filipino restaurants and businesses. The population is known for its successful integration. There is no single dominant profession or industry associated with the Filipino population. While major enclaves do exist, as is the case of the ‘Little Manila’ in Queens, the population is widely dispersed throughout the city and very visible, playing a vital role in a range of different industries.
Top Five Restaurants
Filipino cuisine is notably difficult to define. Amongst the most stylistically diverse varieties of cuisine in the world, it combines the hundreds of different cultures of native Filipinos in addition to drawing upon Spanish, Chinese, Indian and American influences. Many dishes are defined by their simplicity and unusual flavour combinations. The Spanish and American colonial influence on the Philippines is reflected through the country’s cuisine, which is very much a collision of Eastern and Western cooking styles.
- Tito Rad’s Grill
Address: 49-10 Queens Blvd, Woodside, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm (Monday-Friday), 10am-10pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Authentic Filipino restaurant in the heart of Woodside’s ‘Little Manila’ Signature dish as the ‘Inihaw na Panga’-Grilled Tuna Jaw.
Address: 201 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 6pm-10.30pm (Monday-Thursday), 5pm-11.30pm (Friday), 11am-3.30pm, 5pm-11.30pm (Saturday), 11am-3.30pm, 5pm-10.30pm (Sunday)
Modern Filipino restaurant in the East Village with a tropical atmosphere.
- Grill 21
Address: 346 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm
Small and colourful traditional Filipino restaurant in Downtown Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighbourhood.
- Purple Yam
Address: 1314 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11226
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-10.30pm (Monday-Friday), 11am-3.30pm, 5.30pm-11pm (Saturday), 11am-3.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm (Sunday)
A unique Brooklyn Pan-Asian restaurant with a strong emphasis on Filipino dishes.
- Papa’s Kitchen
Address: 65-40 Woodside Ave, Woodside, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 1pm-10pm (Tuesday-Thursday), 1pm-11pm (Friday-Saturday), 1pm-7pm (Sunday)
Iconic Filipino restaurant in a ‘Little Manila’ townhouse serving homemade classics and offering karaoke.
Top Five Things To Do
- Richard Mendoza’s Filthy Rich Barbershop
Address: 63-12 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 11am-7pm (Monday-Saturday), 12pm-6pm (Sunday)
One of the area’s finest barbershops, Filipino-American Richard Mendoza has seen his reputation skyrocket in recent years due to his popularity amongst rappers. His barbershop attracts an elite clientele and is well-worth seeking out if you can secure a booking. A second location has recently opened in Williamsburg.
- Krystal’s Cafe & Pastry Shop
Address: 6902 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, Queens, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 8am-12pm
A staple of Little Manila, this authentic cafe is also well-known amongst locals for its rollicking karaoke nights in the upstairs section.
- Phil-Am Food Mart
Address: 4003 70th St, Woodside, Queens, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 9am-8pm
In the heart of ‘Little Manila’, this is the best specialist supermarket in the area, selling specialty foods and ingredients. A second location has opened in Staten Island.
Address: 62-29 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, Queens, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 7am-11pm
The iconic and immensely popular Filipino fast food chain has a widely-visited outpost in Queens’ ‘Little Manila.’
Address: 58-02 37th Ave, Woodside, Queens, NY 11377
Opening Hours: 8pm-12am (Thursday), 8pm-3am (Friday-Saturday), 1pm-12am (Sunday)
An immensely popular entertainment venue in Queens that has drinking, dining and dancing all on offer. Most popular of all are the regular ballroom dancing events the venue provides.
Indian Americans comprise New York City’s second-largest immigrant population after Chinese Americans, numbering at 228,000. Furthermore, the New York City metropolitan area, which includes regions of New Jersey, the Indian population is considerable. The neighbourhood of Bombay, Jersey City is particularly notable, home to India Square.
Indian immigration to the United States is fairly recent. The first Indian American citizen was Bhicaji Balsara, who arrived in the country in 1900. However, the Indian community in the United States was very minimal until mid-way through the 20th Century when immigration restrictions were gradually eased.
Many Indian Americans did not travel directly from India, but rather from pre-existing diaspora communities around the world. Notable examples include Canada, the United Kingdom and Caribbean nations such as Trinidad and Tobago. Immigration skyrocketed in the 1960’s as Indian immigration quotas were removed and many displaced Indians travelled to the United States due to the better work opportunities.
The United States already had a pre-existing Indian population, but this had no particular centre, and much like the Chinese and Japanese diasporas, worked mainly as labourers throughout the country. Following this major wave of Indian immigration however, the vast majority headed to New York City and the surrounding area. The initial immigrants were comprised of more educated professional figures in the fields of medicine, law and finance.
Since the mid-20th Century, the Indian population of the New York City Metropolitan Area has gradually grown and expanded. In the city itself, there are few specific enclaves as there are with many other foreign-born populations, although the population is largely concentrated in the borough of Queens, which is home to well over half of the city’s Indian population. Manhattan and Brooklyn are also home to relatively substantial Indian populations, albeit far smaller than that in Queens.
The surrounding areas feature a far more substantial Indian population. This is particularly the case in New Jersey. Indeed, Jersey City is home to the largest concentration of Indians in the Western Hemisphere. The city’s population is 10% Indian, the majority of which is concentrated in ‘Little Bombay’ or India Square. This area is known for its large range of Indian restaurants and businesses.
Other ‘Little Indias’ exist throughout the New York metropolitan area. New Jersey’s Middlesex County and Mercer County are home to substantial Indian populations. In New York, Long Island is a particularly notable population hub, while Flushing, Queens’ ‘Little India’ is particularly notable. The Manhattan neighbourhood of Rose Hill is fast emerging as a major Indian enclave, earning the nickname ‘Curry Hill’ due to the growing wealth of Indian restaurants.
While Indian Americans are amongst the lesser-discussed immigration populations in the United States, their presence on the United States’ East Coast is considerable.
Top Five Restaurants
Indian cuisine is amongst the most diverse and difficult to define cooking cultures. Varying significantly throughout the large country. There are an innumerable range of styles. Notable ones include Bengali, known for its subtlety and spiciness as well as its use of seafood, Tamil, known for its emphasis on vegetarian dishes and Punjab, known for its creamy and rich dishes. There is an endless range and characterising Indian food with tikka masala and chutney would be inaccurate and unfair to one of the richest culinary cultures in the world.
- Malai Marke
Address: 318 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm (Monday-Thursday), 12pm-12am (Friday-Saturday), 12pm-10.30pm (Sunday)
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Manhattan. Reasonably priced and serves traditional classics such as chicken tikka masala.
- The Masalawala
Address: 1547, 179 Essex St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 12pm-12am
Inventive Indian and South Asian street food restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
- Punjab Grocery and Deli
Address: 114 E 1st St, New York, NY 10009
Opening Hours: Open 24/7
Authentic and no-frills Punjabi take-out counter which also sells specialty snacks and goods such as Bollywood films. One of the best value-for-money meals in the city.
Address: 129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016
Opening Hours: 11.30am-3pm, 5pm-10.15pm (Monday-Thursday), 11.30am-10.45pm (Friday), 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10.45pm (Saturday), 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10.15pm (Sunday)
High-end, experimental Indian bar and restaurant in Midtown.
- Brick Lane Curry House
Address: 79 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 12pm-11pm
Named for the iconic London neighbourhood of the same name, Brick Lane Curry House offers British-Indian dishes in a no-frills, reasonably-priced environment.
Top Five Things to Do
- Indian Independence Day Parade
Opening Hours: N/A
The definitive cultural event for New York’s Indian community, the Indian Independence Day Parade is held annually on August 19 and brings together the city’s extensive Indian population to celebrate their country of origin’s independence.
- India Square
Opening Hours: N/A
The epicentre of Jersey City’s substantial Indian population, India Square is a bustling neighbourhood filled to the brim with authentic Indian restaurants, businesses and temples.
- Curry Hill
Opening Hours: N/A
While there is little to see per se in this unassuming Lower East Side neighbourhood, the newly-named ‘Curry Hill’ is the heart of a rapidly growing Manhattan Indian community, which already boasts some of the city’s finest specialist restaurants.
- Hindu Temple Society of North America
Address: 45-57 Browne St, Flushing, NY 11355
Opening Hours: N/A
With a claim to being the first Hindu temple in the country, this is one of the most essential sites to Indian Americans in the United States. This is very much the epicentre of Queens’ Indian community, nearby a range of other, smaller temples as well as a number of restaurants. Of particular note is the South Indian vegetarian restaurant in its basement-the Temple Canteen.
The Irish immigration story is one of New York City’s most essential and notable. New York City is home to the largest Irish population in the country. While claims are difficult to verify, it is believed that 12.9% of the city’s population is of Irish descent, making it the largest white ethnic group in the city. The Irish contribution to the city’s culture and history cannot be understated.
Irish immigration to New York City began as early as the late 19th Century, but began to a large degree in the 1820’s. This coincided with a deterioration of conditions in Ireland, which caused major waves of immigration to occur. The East Coast of the United States in particular emerged as a major destination, with Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia also emerging as major population hotspots in the following decades. These early immigrants were generally English-speaking Protestants, who quickly assimilated to life in New York City.
As the 19th Century progressed, more and more Irish immigrants began to settle in New York from a wide range of regions and backgrounds. Notably, a much larger number of Catholic, Gaelic-speaking Irish immigrants arrived. Their attempt at assimilation was much more difficult as they were confronted with language barriers and poverty. As a result, monocultural Irish communities began to form throughout the city, mainly in the borough of Brooklyn.
A major turning point in the history of Irish immigration to the United States was the Great Famine of 1845, which caused significant population displacement. Ireland’s population declined by as much as 25% as one million perished and a further million fled the country. Many of these emigres settled in the United States, motivated by new opportunities as well as the pre-existing Irish communities on the Eastern Seaboard’s major cities, particularly New York City.
By the mid-20th Century, New York’s Irish population had increased significantly and had spread throughout the city, establishing a number of major enclaves across the five boroughs. In Manhattan, the notorious Five Points neighbourhood and Hell’s Kitchen in the Downtown area of the city, became major hubs for Irish communities. Major communities also emerged throughout The Bronx (Woodlawn, City Island), Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace) and Queens (Rockaway Beach, Woodside), many of which retain their distinctly Irish character in modern times.
In part due to a comparatively insubstantial language barrier, the Irish Americans are amongst the most successfully assimilated immigrant populations in the city. This is also a result of their considerable size and lengthy history in the city, which has enabled a wide range of communities to emerge throughout the city, without being particular insular.
This is supported by the historic association of Irish Americans with aspects of public life in the city. The Irish are known for their association with unions and local politics as well as for their long-standing deep ties to the NYPD and NYFD.
Top Five Restaurants
Irish cuisine is one of the world’s lesser-known cooking styles. It bears a number of similarities to British cuisine and makes considerable use of the potato, due to the vegetable’s ubiquitousness within the country. It is generally composed of simple dishes consisting of meat, vegetables and potatoes, such as Irish stew. Irish cuisine was essentially displaced following the country’s conquest by the English and its development halted. However, modern chefs are attempting to revitalise and reinvent the country’s culinary identity.
- Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
Address: 13 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 11am-4pm
In the heart of Manhattan, this is a popular spot with Irish Americans and visitors alike. Serves classic Irish pub food against a Victorian backdrop.
- Cronin and Phelan’s
Address: 3814 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, NY 11103
Opening Hours: 8am-4am (Monday-Saturday), 11am-4am (Sunday)
Queens neighbourhood bar and restaurant specialising in hearty classics such as shepherd’s pie and hosting karaoke nights.
- The Wheeltapper Pub
Address: 141 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017
Opening Hours: 7am-2am
In the frantic Midtown neighbourhood of Manhattan, this is one of the city’s finest Irish pubs. A traditional Irish tavern with a spacious garden area.
- The Late Late
Address: 159 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
Opening Hours: 4pm-2am (Monday-Tuesday), 4pm-4am (Wednesday-Friday), 12pm-4am (Saturday), 12pm-2am (Sunday)
Trendy new gastropub serving brunch and high-end whisky with a retro, 1960’s influenced design.
- McSorley’s Ale House
Address: 15 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 11am-1pm (Monday-Saturday), 1pm-1am (Sunday)
An Irish institution. Open since the mid-19th Century, this is one of the most culturally significant Irish historical sites in the city. Notably traditional, it only opened to women in 1970, making it one of the last men’s-only pubs in the city. One of the most historical bars in the country.
Top Five Things to Do
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Opening Hours: N/A
Ireland’s most important national holiday is celebrated with complete gusto in New York City. The oldest and largest parade of its kind in the world, it was first held in the city in 1762, preceding American independence. It continues to draw millions of spectators and several participants, an illustration of the long history and great importance of the Irish community in the city.
- American Irish Historical Society
Address: 991 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
Opening Hours: 11am-12pm, 3pm-4pm (Monday-Friday)
A short walk from the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Irish Historical Society is a long-standing Irish cultural institution, established at the turn of the 19th Century in 1897. Maintaining a rich library and archive collection, the society also hosts a number of cultural events, which include theatrical and musical performances and film screenings. Notable former members include ex-US President Theodore Roosevelt.
- Gaelic Park
Address: 201 W 240th St, Bronx, NY 10463
Opening Hours: N/A
Located in the historically Irish neighbourhood of Riverdale, The Bronx, Gaelic Park has been a longtime hotspot of Irish sporting activity. Since its 1926 acquisition by the Gaelic Athletic Association of Greater New York, the park has hosted a wealth of hurling and football matches as well as traditional Irish musical and dance performances in the nearby music hall.
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Opening Hours: N/A
One of the city’s most recognisable religious landmarks, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built in the latter half of the 19th Century. The seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, it is the hub of the city’s Catholic community. A stunning Neo-gothic building, it is one of the city’s most impressive and distinct buildings, often hosting the funeral processions of a number of notable figures.
- Irish Hunger Memorial
Address: North End Ave & Vesey St, New York, NY 10280
Opening Hours: 11am-6.30pm
Located in Manhattan’s Battery Park neighbourhood, the Irish Hunger Memorial is a sobering reminder of the millions of deaths caused by the Great Famine of the mid-19th Century, something which also caused millions of Irish migrants to settle in the city and elsewhere in the country. Open since 2002, it is an essential cultural monument for the city’s Irish community.
The Polish community of New York City often flies under the radar in comparison to other major immigrant enclaves. However, it is one of the most significant in the city, particularly in Brooklyn. The New York Metropolitan Area is home to the second-largest Polish population in the country after Chicago.
Polish immigration to the United States can be traced back to the 19th Century. Political turmoil in Poland, which culminated in the country’s partition, resulted in significant population displacement. Many of the immigrants fled for closer countries with few settling in the United States. Geneva and London were major centres, but communities did begin to form within cities such as Chicago and New York City, now the modern-day bastions of the Polish diaspora in the United States.
These immigrants were generally from more affluent and intellectual circles. Spikes of Polish immigration to the United States correlate with the partition as well as smaller insurrections in 1830 and 1863. Despite records being somewhat problematic, it is believed that around 2000 Poles immigrated to the US between 1800 and 1860.
The latter half of the 19th Century saw a far more significant wave of Polish immigration to the United States, mainly comprised of working-class labourers. The Mid-Atlantic states and the Rust Belt proved to be major settling points due to being the heart of the burgeoning industrial revolution in America. It is believed that around 2.5 million Poles immigrated to the United States between 1860 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
The inter-war years initially saw a stagnation in Polish immigration abroad as the Polish state was reestablished. A dictatorship under the command of Josef Pilsudski lasted from 1926 to 1935. The Nazi occupation of Poland impacted its population significantly, decimating large swathes of the Jewish population in addition to intellectuals in a bid to eradicate Polish culture. It is believed that 20% of the population was killed during the war. Additionally, significant population displacement occurred as many fled overseas.
It is difficult to estimate the immigration figures of Poles to the United States for much of the 20th Century. Despite stagnation induced by immigration restrictions and the Great Depression, the outbreak Second World War and the oppressiveness of Communist rule for much of the 20th Century renewed immigration drives. The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe triggered an additional major wave of Polish immigration to the United States in the 1980’s, something which is still underway today, albeit to a lesser degree. Polish immigration rates to the United States have steadily decreased since Poland’s admission into the European Union, which facilitated easier immigration to closer countries.
The Polish community of New York City is heavily centred in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Greenpoint. Similar to other major immigrant populations, Brooklyn was a haven for Poles. Polish presence in Greenpoint can be traced back to as early as the late 19th Century. Despite ongoing gentrification efforts within Greenpoint and surrounding areas, the neighbourhood still retains its distinctly Polish identity and is often nicknamed ‘Little Poland’ as a result.
Top Five Restaurants
Despite being relatively little-known throughout most countries, Polish cuisine is amongst the most rich and multi-faceted in Europe. Known for its heavy emphasis on meat, particularly pork, as well as vegetables such as cabbage. It also uses different kinds of noodles and soups such as borcht. It is very much a melting pot of Central European and Eastern European influences whilst very much being its own individual style.
Address: 136 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: 12pm-10.30pm (Monday-Thursday), 12pm-11.30pm (Friday-Saturday), 12pm-10pm (Sunday)
The neighbourhood’s definitive Polish restaurant, Karczma offers hearty classics against a traditional Polish backdrop.
- Krolewskie Jadlo
Address: 694 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: 12pm-10pm
Neighbourhood icon that serves Polish classic dishes in a medieval-themed environment.
- Little Poland
Address: 200 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Opening Hours: 7am-11pm
Popular Manhattan restaurant serving Polish staple dishes such as Pierogi in a diner setting.
Address: 194 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Opening Hours: 11.30am-10pm (Monday-Wednesday), 11.30am-11pm (Thursday-Friday), 9am-11pm (Saturday), 9am-10pm (Sunday)
Casual and popular Polish restaurant specialising in the classic staples such as borscht and goulash.
Address: 8303 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209
Opening Hours: 12pm-10pm (Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday), 12pm-10.30pm (Friday-Saturday)
Small neighbourhood restaurants serving a variety of dishes with a specialisation in soups.
Top Five Things to Do
- Cafe Riviera
Address: 830 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: 8am-9pm
Local bakery specialising in Polish pastries and desserts along with more standard baked goods.
- ACME Smoked Fish
Address: 30 Gem St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: 5.30am-6pm (Fridays Only)
Run by a local Polish American family, this is one of the best places in the city to get your hands on the highest quality fish around. Both a smokehouse and a retail outlet, it is cash only and open to the public on Fridays.
- Polish National Catholic Church of the Resurrection Parish
Opening Hours: N/a
The hub of Greenpoint’s Polish Catholic community, this is one of the more distinct religious buildings in Brooklyn.
- Polish National Home
Address: 2611 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: N/A
A concert hall that shows a variety of traditional Polish performances in addition to other fare.
- McCarren Park
Address: 776 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Opening Hours: 6am-1am
One of Brooklyn’s finest public parks. It is known for its swimming pool, athletic facilities and regular musical performances.
Little Odessa/Brighton Beach
New York City’s Russian population is, by some distance, the largest in the United States as well as the Western Hemisphere. The city is home to 600,000 Russian-Americans, over a third of which are Russian Jews. In addition, a number of immigrants from nearby Eastern European and Central Asian countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyztsn, call the city their home. The Russian-American population is heavily centred in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Brighton Beach, one of the most culturally distinct parts of the city.
Russian immigration to the United States stretches back to the beginning of the 19th Century and is heavily centred around New York City. The first significant wave occurred in the latter half of the 19th Century following a combination of factors. The Homestead Act of 1862 saw millions of acres of American land become available to anyone who had never taken up arms against the country, encouraging significant European immigration. Russian mass immigration coincided with this as a result of the anti-Semitic pogroms enacted by the Russian Empire. The Russian-Jewish diaspora, were drawn to New York City in particular.
Russian immigration to New York City and the rest of the country coincided with major moments of political unrest in the Russian Empire and its successor the Soviet Union. The Russian Revolution of 1917 saw many flee the country as centuries of autocratic rule were replaced by a Communist system of rule. It was not until the latter half of the 20th Century when Russian immigration to New York City reached its peak.
The 1970’s saw the beginning of major Russian and Eastern European settlement in Brookyln. The Brighton Beach neighbourhood, following the Second World War, had seen decades of economically decline, causing a massive drop in property value. This enabled newly-arrived immigrants to buy up property in the area. With a pre-existing Jewish population already settled in the neighbourhood, many Eastern European settlers from the Soviet Bloc began to arrive during the 1970’s, the numbers increasing to such a degree that the neighbourhood was renamed ‘Little Odessa’.
The neighbourhood’s Eastern European population steadily increased in the following years and exploded following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980’s. Soviet immigrants were drawn by the pre-existing Russian community in the area and the many economic opportunities the city presented. The 1990’s saw many Russian-owned restaurants and businesses open and the area slowly emerged from the poverty, which defined it for so much of the 20th Century.
Brighton Beach remains a vibrant hub for the city’s Eastern European and Central Asian population. While it remains a major centre for Jewish and Russian immigrants, it has diversified considerably over the past few decades as major Uzbeki and Kyrgyzstani populations have settled in the neighbourhood. It is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the city, featuring representations from all aspects of the former Russian Empire’s diaspora.
Top Five Restaurants
Given Russia’s immense size, it is difficult to pigeonhole its cuisine into a single, solitary style. It varies significantly throughout the country and exhibits influences from a wide range of countries and regions, including Eastern Europe, Central Asia and East Asia. Popular dishes include borcht, a beetroot soup and pelmeni, meat dumplings.
- Cafe Kashkar
Address: 1141 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: 10am-11pm
One of the city’s few Uyghur restaurants, which specialises in food from the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province of Northwestern China. Low-frills, BYOB and completely unique.
- Brighton Bazaar
Address: 1007 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: 8am-10pm
A supermarket specialising in a vast array of Eastern European delicacies. Also served prepared meals.
- Tone Cafe
Address: 265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: 7.30am-9pm (Monday-Thursday), 7.30am-10pm (Friday-Sunday)
A Georgian restaurant and bakery known for its reasonable prices and homely atmosphere.
Address: 1029 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: 9am-9pm (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 9am-10pm (Friday-Saturday)
A high-end food emporium in a former theatre specialising in a diverse array of Eastern European food and produce.
Address: 3086 Brighton 2nd St, Brooklyn NY, 11235
Opening Hours: 10am-9pm
One of the city’s finest and most traditional Russian restaurants, featuring an array of Soviet relics.
Top Five Things to Do
- Brighton Beach
Opening Hours: N/A
The eponymous beach of the neighbourhood is one of the major draws for non-residents, drawing many visitors in the hot summer months. It is in close proximity to a number of bars, shops and restaurants as well as the iconic amusement park Coney Island.
- Russian Tea Room
Address: 150 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
Opening Hours: 11.30am-11.30pm (Monday-Friday), 11am-11.30pm (Saturday), 11am-10pm (Sunday)
A Russian outlier in Manhattan, the Russian Tea Room is a high-end restaurant and ballroom established by a group of former Russian Imperial ballet dancers in 1927. It remains one of the city’s most high-end destinations, attracting a wide-ranging celebrity clientele but retains its distinctly Russian character.
- Saint Petersburg Bookstore
Address: 230 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: N/A
The city’s premier destination for Russian literature and other goods. The Saint Petersburg Bookstore is a distinct neighbourhood staple, which also sells traditional Russian nesting dolls, otherwise known as matryoshka.
- Russian Baths of Brooklyn
Address: 1200 Gravesend Neck Road, Brooklyn, NY 11229
Opening Hours: 8am-11pm (Monday-Friday), 7am-11pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Brighton Beach is home to a wealth of traditional Russian public bathhouses. These are great places to soak in the neighbourhood’s culture as well as being a relaxing day out.
- Floor Show at The National Restaurant and Nightclub
Address: 273 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Opening Hours: 11am-9pm (Monday-Thursday), 11am-2am (Friday-Sunday)
A quintessentially Brighton Beach experience, this is a combined experience of dinner and entertainment which serves some of the finest Russian cuisine in the area accompanied by a glamorous cabaret show.