This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. One of the city’s oldest and largest landmark districts, it’s a treasure trove of history, culture, and architecture. Village Preservation is spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
Each year, immigrant history week is celebrated in late April, commemorating the day in 1907 when more immigrants came through Ellis Island than any other day in history. More than a few of those immigrants came through Greenwich Village, which has a long and storied history of welcoming newcomers from across the city, country, and globe. Here are just a few of the sites within the Greenwich Village Historic District where landmarks of our nation’s rich and varied immigrant history can be found, from the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in the country to a hub of “Little Spain.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau information released Thursday, the number of people moving into New York City’s five boroughs has fallen for the first time in decades, the Wall Street Journal reports. The city’s population saw a drop of 0.47 percent to 8.4 million–still the highest of any U.S. metro area–between 2017 and 2018. And more people left than arrived: International migration dipped, lowering the city’s population in 2017 and 2018. Overall, cities in the nation’s south and west saw the biggest population growth, with the area that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington seeing the most growth of any metropolitan area.
A trend reverses
There’s a steel wall in the Hudson River that celebrates immigrants, the only place in the United States where heritage can be honored at a national monument. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor first opened on Ellis Island in 1990 to recognize the country’s many immigrants and to raise money for the site’s National Museum of Immigration and the Statue of Liberty. Currently, there are 770 panels engraved with the names of nearly 775,000 immigrants. But spots on the wall are filling up, as the New York Times reported on Wednesday. Just five panels remain empty, enough space for roughly 3,300 names.
No, not that wall
“Manhattan Island in the Sixteenth Century,” from the Memorial History of New York, 1892, via NYPL
This weekend, Lenape people hosted a Pow Wow on Park Avenue. The event, held at the Park Avenue Armory, was the first Lenape Pow Wow in New York since the 1700s. The gathering represented a homecoming for the Lenape people, who are the original inhabitants of the places we call New Jersey, Delaware, southern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and western Connecticut. Brent Stonefish, a Lenape man who lives in Ontario told WNYC, “It’s home, and today it felt like we were welcomed home.”
Currently, most Lenape belong to the Delaware Nation and live in New Jersey, Oklahoma and Ontario, but the word Lenape means “Original People,” and the Lenape are the Original New Yorkers. In fact, the name Manhattan comes from the Lenape “Manahatta,” meaning “hilly island.” Although the Lenape stove to “walk so gently on the earth,” without leaving an impact on the land, they influenced the city’s physical geography in ways we can see and feel today. From the Bowling Green to Broadway, Cherry Street to Minetta Lane, here are 10 sites in Manhattan that reflect the legacy of the Lenape.
Learn more about the first
Photo courtesy of LinkNYC
The city’s 1,742 LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks are the site of a new campaign to highlight facts and photographs related to immigrants’ impact on New York City’s life and culture. “City of Immigrants” will feature historic photos from the Associated Press, along with facts from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ annual report. For example, did you know 52% of NYC businesses are immigrant-owned, or that nearly half of the city’s population speaks a language other than English at home?
Find out more
Photo by 6sqft
It’s hard to miss the two floors of flashing, chili pepper light-adorned Indian restaurants on First Avenue and Sixth Street in the East Village. The origin of these two stacked eateries, though, is much more frequently overlooked, as is the fact that the neighborhood’s adjacent “Little India” is really more “Little Bengal.” New York’s main Bangladeshi community is often cited as being in Jackson Heights, which boasts a large South Asian population and a great representation of its diverse culture, including the beloved Patel Brothers grocery store. Less well known is that East New York also has a large Bangladeshi community, and in the 1990s, the East Village’s “Curry Row” worked to identify itself as Indian, a culture more Americans at the time were familiar with. Ahead, we look at the whole history and break down the best places to experience Bangladeshi culture in NYC.
New Amsterdam in 1671, via Wiki Commons
New York is the largest Latino city in the United States. Over 2.4 million New Yorkers, or nearly one third of the population, identify as Hispanic or Latino. The city’s thriving Latin community marks the most recent chapter in the history of Latin New York, which stretches over 400 years.
In the spring of 1613, Juan Rodriguez (also known as Jan Rodrigues), a free mixed-race Dominican man from Santo Domingo, became the first non-Native American person to live in what would become New York City. He arrived aboard a Dutch trading vessel, declined to leave with the rest of the crew, and stayed on until 1614, as a fur trader. Rodriguez’s settlement pre-dates the first settlers of New Amsterdam by a full 11 years, making him the first immigrant, the first black person, the first merchant, and the first Latino to live in New York City.
Learn more about Early Latin NY!
When the Piccirilli Brothers arrived in New York from Italy in 1888, they brought with them a skill– artistry and passion for stone-carving unrivaled in the United States. At their studio at 467 East 142nd Street, in the Mott Haven Section of the Bronx, the brothers turned monumental slabs of marble into some of the nation’s recognizable icons, including the senate pediment of the US Capitol Building and the statue of Abraham Lincoln that sits resolutely in the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.
The Piccirillis not only helped set our national narrative in stone but they also left an indelible mark on New York City. They carved hundreds of commissions around the five boroughs, including the 11 figures in the pediment of the New York Stock exchange, the “four continents” adorning the Customs House at Bowling Green, the two stately lions that guard the New York Public Library, both statues of George Washington for the Arch at Washington Square, and upwards of 500 individual carvings at Riverside Church.
Chisel away at this tale
While we take for granted the paths and roads we use on a daily basis, it’s interesting to find out how they came to be. It’s not a new concept that paths worn by the comings and goings of early dwellers and subsequent settlers in a particular area became roads, streets and thoroughfares, often with names that reflect their beginnings. Brooklyn Heights Blog (via Viewing NYC) shares some insight into Brooklyn’s familiar roads that began as Native American trails on a 1946 map titled “Indian Villages, Paths, Ponds and Places in Kings County.”
Peruse the map
Roger Horne, a Mohawk Ironworker in the Raising Gang, ca. 1970 via the Smithsonian
The Empire State Building. The George Washington Bridge. The United Nations. The Woolworth Building. 30 Rock. The Seagram Building. Lincoln Center. The Waldorf Astoria. Virtually all of New York’s most iconic structures were raised in part by Mohawk Native American ironworkers. Since 1916, when Mohawk men made their way to New York to work on the Hell Gate Bridge, ironworkers from two Native communities, Akwesasne (which straddles Ontario, Quebec, and New York State) and Kahnawake (near Montreal), have been “walking iron” across the city.
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