The most important metropolis in the United States, New York City was essentially built and populated by immigrants and their children. Its Ellis Island was the leading port of entry for immigrants from 1892 until 1954, and its Statue of Liberty was an important symbol of welcome.
The first European immigrants to New York were Dutch who settled the southern end of Manhattan Island during the early seventeenth century. Before the Dutch arrived, Manhattan was sparsely populated by the Lenape people, from whom
After the English seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, they renamed the city New York. Under English, and later British, sovereignty, thousands of English, Welsh, and Scots immigrated to Manhattan, and
By 1855, more than one-half of New York City’s residents were foreign born. These immigrants represented a new alignment in American history. Most were Roman Catholics and did not speak English as their first language. They settled in
Through the first century of American independence, immigration remained basically open and unregulated. Immigrants arrived at ports, went through state customs houses, and became American residents. In New York City, shipping companies submitted the passenger lists to the local collector of customs. However, on August 1, 1855, the state of
New York City’s bustling Hester Street in the city’s lower East Side Jewish ghetto in 1914.
By the late nineteenth century, New York stood as the most populous and commercially significant city in North America. It was also the leading immigration destination in the nation and perhaps the world. Immigrants took up multifarious forms of employment within the city and established their own ethnic neighborhoods up and down Manhattan.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, the demographics of immigration changed again. The 1880’s and 1890’s began an era of mass immigration from eastern and southern Europe. Consequently, New York City absorbed hundreds of thousands of Italian and
In 1898, New York City expanded into greater New York, adding the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island to its charter. At that time, Queens and Staten Island were largely rural, but Brooklyn already had the cosmopolitan make-up that immigration had given to Manhattan and the South Bronx, with Scandinavian and Italian neighborhoods in Bay Ridge, Jewish neighborhoods in Williamsburg, Flatbush, and Brownsville, German neighborhoods in Ridgewood, and
During the twentieth century, immigration continued largely unabated, even though immigration to the United States as a whole was becoming more restrictive with the introduction of national origins quotas in 1921 and 1924. However, the quota system tended to affect the ethnic mixture more than the numbers of new immigrants coming into New York. Because immigration from other countries in the Western Hemisphere remained relatively unrestricted through the quota system years, much of the immigration to New York immediately after World War II was from Latin America. Residents of
The revival of New York City from an economic slump during the 1980’s saw the city’s rate of immigration climb again. As native-born New Yorkers moved to suburban communities, they were replaced within the city by immigrants. In 1970, 18.2 percent of the city’s population were immigrants; by 2005, that percentage had doubled. Between 1964 and 1990, the leading sources of immigrants to New York City were
•Dominican Republic (202,102 immigrants)
•China and Taiwan (145,362)
•Soviet Union (60,110)
Between 1990 and 2000, about 1.25 million immigrants settled in New York City, with others settling in nearby suburbs. By 2007, it was estimated that more than 3 million immigrants were living in New York City, out of a total population of approximately 8 million. Moreover, about 60 percent of New York City’s residents were either immigrants themselves or children of immigrants. By the early twenty-first century, one-third of the city’s immigrants during the twenty-first century were from Latin America, with the majority from the Dominican Republic,
New York City is a city of neighborhoods that reflect the ethnic origins of different immigrant groups. In no part of the city, however, have the transformations wrought by immigration been more apparent than in the borough of Queens. Once an ethnically homogenous and rural suburb, Queens has become the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. During the early twenty-first century, one-half of its residents were foreign born. Most of New York City’s 275,000 Asian Indians and other South Asians live in Queens. A similar pattern is true of the city’s approximately 215,000 Filipino residents. Queen’s Astoria neighborhood has the largest concentration of
The history of Queens is a microcosm of New York City immigration history. Like Manhattan, it was first settled by the Dutch and English. Irish, German, and Italian immigrants settled in western Queens during the nineteenth century. The beginning of the twentieth century saw millions of immigrants arriving from southern and western Europe. Around the turn of the twenty-first century, new immigrants poured in from Latin America, the West Indies, and Asia.
Almeida, Linda. Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. Study of late twentieth century Irish immigration into the city. Although most Irish immigrants arrived during the mid-nineteenth century, they remained an important stream of immigrants into the following century. Baily, Samuel. Immigration in the Land of Promise: Italians in Buenos Aires and New York City, 1870-1914. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004. Comparative study of the large turn-of-the-twentieth-century waves of Italian immigration into New York City and Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires. Foner, Nancy. From Ellis Island to JFK: New York’s Two Great Waves of Immigration. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000. Study by a leading immigration historian comparing the mass migrations of Russian Jews and Italians to New York City around 1900 to the wave of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean a century later. _______, ed. Islands in the City: West Indian Migration to New York. Berkeley: University of California, 2001. Collection of scholarly essays on the impact of immigration to New York from the multicultural West Indies. _______. New Immigrants in New York. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. Collection of sociological studies of New York City’s recent Chinese, Dominican, Jamaican, Korean, Mexican, Soviet Jew, and West African immigrants, examining how members of these groups have interacted with the city. Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel Moynihan. Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City. 2d ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1970. First published in 1963, this study of the assimilation of ethnic New York immigrants into American culture is a classic of American sociology. Kasinitz, Philip. Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992. Examines migratory patterns of Caribbean New Yorkers, with tables and figures documenting the highly mobile West Indian immigration patterns. Kasinitz, Philip, John Mollenkopf, and Mary Waters, eds. Becoming New Yorkers: Ethnographies of the New Second Generation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004. Collection of sociological essays examining the experiences of New Yorkers under the age of eighteen who are children of immigrants. Kessner, Thomas. The Golden Door: Italian and Jewish Immigrant Mobility in New York City, 1880-1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. Quantitative study of the experiences of the greatest immigration wave to the “Immigrant City,” with twenty-five tables showing occupational distribution. Smith, Robert Courtney. Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants. Berkeley: University of California, 2005. Ethnographic study of the families of transnational Mexican immigrants living in Mexico and New York. With a methodological appendix. Waldinger, Roger. Still the Promised City? African Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. Study of employment, demographics, ethnicity, and race in recent immigration to New York. With appendixes on shift-share analysis and field research methods.
Melting pot theory
New York State
Puerto Rican immigrants
Statue of Liberty
Triangle Shirtwaist fire