Looking for Old New York

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I am a mutt, not in the canine sense but rather in regards to my ancestry. Take a peek in my genealogy and you’ll find Italian, German, Lithuanian, Swiss, and English heritage. My Grandmother on my mother’s side spent a years upon years collecting the names of family members long past. She traced our ancestry as far back as the 1500s and discovered that one of our distant relatives signed the magna carta. Discoveries such as these are fascinating to me and spark a desire to study the history of not only my family but of others as well. So far, New York City has not failed to provide ample amounts of intriguing historical facts for me to learn about. The history buff that has been dormant while living in the suburbs of Georgia has been given a chance to awaken and feast on the rich history that New York City has to offer (which isn’t to say that Georgia doesn’t have rich history because it most certainly does).

One of the first places that we went to as a group was the Tenement Museum. Here we followed a tour guide below the old tenement buildings and into a basement space where a German salon used to be in business. We spent a decent amount of time listening to the tour guide talk about the struggles and triumphs of the immigrants who ran this business, and continued on to an adjacent room to learn about where a butchery shop, auction house, and lace lingerie store used to be. Jewish, German, Austrian, and Puerto Rican families pursued the American Dream beneath the brick tenement buildings. They endured xenophobic treatment, the Great Depression, and intense competition from rival businesses throughout the decades that they lived in 97 Orchard. Here beneath the bustling streets of New York City, true American spirit and hard work were at play.

While exploring the underground tenement businesses was fascinating, I was even more eager to experience Little Italy. Like I mentioned before I have Italian heritage and I was interested in experiencing the Italian community of New York City. It did not disappoint. A small group of us went out last night with the intention of eating dinner at China Town and then finding a gelato stand in Little Italy. It is quite a strange experience to walk down a street full of Chinese stores and restaurants and then turn the corner to find yourself surrounded by Italian food and wares. I was enthralled by the mixing of two radically different cultures and had a fantastic time sampling the food from both communities. The dinner we had in China Town was delicious and inexpensive, but the gelato in Little Italy paled in comparison to the real deal. Still the Italian in me was happy. I was reminded of the streets in Rome while walking in Little Italy. Tonight we plan to return and eat at an Italian Ristorante. I have high hopes that the food will be on par with the food in Italy. We shall see…





Filed under Miscellaneous

3 responses to “Looking for Old New York

  1. That mixing of cultures is amazing. Do you see much overlap between Chinatown and Little Italy? Commonalities?

    • marchellolindsay

      I didn’t see much overlapping aside from seeing Chinese restaurants being next to Italian restaurants.Well both sides also had a lot of cheap touristy stores.

  2. Yes! Consumerism unites us all 🙂 It’s always weird to think that those “authentic” immigrant neighborhoods sell a bunch of trinkety American junk.

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