Saving New York’s Little Italy


A community that once spanned 50 blocks has almost disappeared. Read about one museum’s struggle to keep the stories of the Italian migration alive.

This article, written by Judith Messina, appears in Crain’s New York Business.

First came the immigrants who gave Little Italy its name. Then came the wave of Chinese immigrants who began raising families, opening shops, restaurants and even small factories in the neighborhood in the 1980s. More recently, soaring property prices have ushered in the era of affluent urbanites and hipsters. Today, even Little Italy stalwarts concede that the name falls somewhere between “last vestige of a vanished time” and “total misnomer.”

“Saving the neighborhood as a community—it’s not going to happen,” conceded Joseph Scelsa, the founder of the Italian American Museum at the crossroads of the old Little Italy—the corner of Mulberry and Grand streets. “It’s really about being able to save a piece of it so that we can tell the story of this great migration from Italy to the United States and what happened to its people.” Read more.

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