Little Italy got its name due to the large population of Italian Americans. However, nowadays it has only a few Italian restaurants and stores. Little Italy is a neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan and surrounded by SoHo and Tribeca from the west. To its south is Chinatown, Bowery to its east and Nolita to its north.
There is not much difference between the culture and history of Chinatown and Little Italy. If you are interested in the history of these two neighbourhoods, you must visit the Museum of Chinese in America and the Italian American Museum.
For those interested in rental apartments, Little Italy is more useful than Chinatown. Buildings in Chinatown are not so luxurious and oddly-configured.
In the early days, Little Italy was extended to Worth Street from the south, Houston Street from north, Bowery from east and Lafayette Street from west. But now the city is limited to three blocks on Mulberry Street only. Also known as ‘the foul core of New York’s slums’, Little Italy became a shelter home for the Italian migrants during 1880s.
Besides that, Little Italy was not the largest Italian place in NYC as East Harlem was the largest refugee place of the Italians. At one time, this place had 10,000 Italians. But after World War II, Italians started to move to the other areas of Manhattan and paved the way for the Chinese which resulted the formulation of Chinatown.
In 2010, the National Register of Historic Places labelled Little Italy and Chinatown as a single historic district. US Census of 2000 showed a comparison between the Chinese living in Chinatown and Italians living in Little Italy. And at that time, 8.25% of the population was Italian in Little Italy while 81% of the population was Chinese in the Chinatown.
Chinatown and Little Italy are classified as one ‘historic district’, but this is not the case, as these two have totally different histories. Little Italy was occupied by the Italians whereas Chinatown by the Chinese. The first official Chinese to have immigrated in Chinatown was Ah Ken. Due to racial discrimination, many Chinese left the area and moved to the East Coast cities.
Till 2013, Little Italy was home to many Italian cuisine and restaurants but between 2013 and 2014, many of these eateries were closed. The Feast of San Gennaro is a popular festival in this area. Immigrants from Naples started this event in 1926 and from that time Italian immigrants celebrate this event with their fellow Naples.
On the streets of Little Italy, you will find fresh pasta, fantastic gelato, smiling faces, and a couple of Italian restaurants. Canal Street is the best place you will find in Lower Manhattan. The street contains many shopping vendors and you will find everything here from DVDs to bubble makers.
Buildings – Flat or Tall?
Most of the apartments here are small and old with not much amenities. However, there are a few luxurious building but keeping in mind the accessibility of this area, they can be a bit expensive.
Major activities include shopping, dining out, eating gelato, and bartering at outside markets.