Little Italy Becomes Littler Italy

Natalie Aldern | Wed, 03/02/2011 - 05:54

The latest United States Census has found that not a single resident in New York’s Little Italy was born in Italy.

New York’s historic district is getting "littler" by the year. Back in 1950, almost 50% of the neighborhood’s residents self-identified as Italian –American. 60 years later, that percentage had fallen to 5%.

Mulberry and Grand, the historic streets that comprise the heart of Little Italy are still lined with Italian cafes, restaurants and specialty shops, but the zone’s boundaries are shrinking. In March, New York City’s Planning Commission is expected to confine Little Italy’s official borders to 2 square blocks, down from 50 square blocks the neighborhood once spanned.

Little Italy was once home to the highest concentration of Italian immigrants in the United States. But even as the demographics change, the neighborhood is still the heart of Italian culture in New York. A recently won battle to preserve the Feast of San Gennaro will ensure that the tradition continues.