Little Italy (Italian: Piccola Italia) is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, once known for its large population of Italian Americans. Today the neighborhood consists of only a few Italian stores and restaurants. It is bounded on the west by Tribeca and Soho, on the south by Chinatown, on the east by the Bowery and Lower East Side, and on the north by Nolita.
Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Area code(s)||212, 332, 646, and 917|
Little Italy on Mulberry Street used to extend as far south as Worth Street, as far north as Houston Street, as far west as Lafayette Street, and as far east as Bowery. It is now only three blocks on Mulberry Street. Little Italy originated as Mulberry Bend. Jacob Riis described Mulberry Bend as "the foul core of New York's slums." During this time period "Immigrants of the late 19th century usually settled in ethnic neighborhoods". Therefore, the "mass immigration from Italy during the 1880's" led to the large settlement of Italian immigrants in lower Manhattan. The results of such migration had created an "influx of Italian immigrants" which had "led to the commercial gathering of their dwelling and business".
Bill Tonelli from New York magazine said, "Once, Little Italy was like an insular Neapolitan village re-created on these shores, with its own language, customs, and financial and cultural institutions." Little Italy was not the largest Italian neighborhood in New York City, as East Harlem (or Italian Harlem) had a larger Italian population. Tonelli said that Little Italy "was perhaps the city's poorest Italian neighborhood". In 1910 Little Italy had almost 10,000 Italians; that was the peak of the community's Italian population. At the turn of the 20th century over 90% of the residents of the Fourteenth Ward were of Italian birth or origins. Tonnelli said that it meant "that residents began moving out to more spacious digs almost as soon as they arrived." Such a vastly growing community impacted the "U.S. labor movement in the 20th century" by making up much of the labor population in the garment industry".
After World War II, many residents of the Lower East Side began moving to Brooklyn, Staten Island, eastern Long Island, and New Jersey. Chinese immigrants became an increased presence after the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 removed immigration restrictions, and the Manhattan Chinatown to Little Italy's south expanded. In 2004, Tonelli said, "You can go back 30 years and find newspaper clips chronicling the expansion of Chinatown and mourning the loss of Little Italy."
Prior to 2004, several upscale businesses entered the northern portion of the area between Houston and Kenmare Street. Tonelli said "Real-estate prices zoomed, making it even tougher for the old-timers—residents and businesspeople alike—to hang on." After the September 11 attacks in 2001, areas below Houston Street were cut off for the rest of the fall of 2001. The San Gennaro feast, scheduled for September 13, was postponed. Business from the Financial District dropped severely, due to the closure of Park Row, which connected Chinatown and the Civic Center; as a result, residents in Little Italy and Chinatown suffered. Tonelli said the post-9/11 events "strangely enough, ended up motivating all these newfangled efforts to save what's left of the old neighborhood."
In 2004 Tonelli said "Today, Little Italy is a veneer—50 or so restaurants and cafés catering to tourists, covering a dense neighborhood of tenements shared by recent Chinese immigrants, young Americans who can't afford Soho, and a few remaining real live Italians." This sentiment has also been echoed by Italian culture and heritage website ItalianAware. The site has called the dominance of Italians in the area, "relatively short lived." It attributes this to the quick financial prosperity many Italians achieved, which afforded them the opportunity to leave the cramped neighborhood for areas in Brooklyn and Queens. The site also goes on to state that the area is currently referred to as Little Italy more out of nostalgia than as a reflection of a true ethnic population.
The New York Times sent its reporters to characterize the Little Italy/Mulberry neighborhood in May 1896:
They are laborers; toilers in all grades of manual work; they are artisans, they are junkman, and here, too, dwell the rag pickers. ... There is a monster colony of Italians who might be termed the commercial or shop keeping community of the Latins. Here are all sorts of stores, pensions, groceries, fruit emporiums, tailors, shoemakers, wine merchants, importers, musical instrument makers. ... There are notaries, lawyers, doctors, apothecaries, undertakers. ... There are more bankers among the Italians than among any other foreigners except the Germans in the city.
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, 1,211 residents claiming Italian ancestry lived in three census tracts that make up Little Italy. Those residents comprise 8.25% of the population in the community, which is similar to the proportion of those of Italian ancestry throughout New York City. Bill Tonelli of New York magazine contrasted Little Italy with the Manhattan Chinatown; in 2000, of the residents of the portions of Chinatown south of Grand Street, 81% were of Chinese origins.
In 2004, Tonelli revisited the issue, saying, "Little Italy may always endure as an open-air theme park of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European immigration to the Lower East Side ... But you'll spend a long time in the neighborhood before you hear anyone speak Italian, and then the speaker will be a tourist from Milan." Tonelli added, "You have to slow your gaze to find the neighbors in this neighborhood, because they're so overwhelmed and outnumbered by the tourists. But once you focus, you can see them, standing (or sitting) in the interstices, taking in the scene, like the group of men, mostly senior citizens, loitering contentedly under an awning on Mulberry Street."
Little Italy was home to dozens of restaurants that serve authentic Italian cuisine, but between March 2013 and March 2014, eight eateries closed down.
The Feast of San Gennaro originally was once only a one-day religious commemoration. It began in September 1926 with the new arrival of immigrants from Naples. The Italian immigrants congregated along Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy to celebrate San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. The Feast of San Gennaro is a large street fair, lasting 11 days, that takes place every September along Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal Streets. The festival is an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community. In 1995 Mort Berkowitz became the professional manager of a community group that had been formed to take over management of the San Gennaro feast. Since then, Berkowitz became involved in other recreational activities in Little Italy, including the summer, Carnevale, Columbus Day, and Christmas events.
Richard Alba, a sociologist and professor at University at Albany, SUNY, said, "The fascinating part here is the way in which ethnic tourism—not only by Italian Americans but by people who want to see an authentic urban village—keeps these neighborhoods going."
Little Italy residents have seen organized crime since the early 20th century. Powerful members of the Italian Mafia have operated in Little Italy.
Little Italy was the locale of the fictional Corleone crime family depicted in the novel The Godfather and the three films based on it. It is also the setting for the 1973 Martin Scorsese film Mean Streets, starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, and the 1994 Luc Besson film Léon: The Professional, starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman.
Other Italian American neighborhoods in New York City include:
An amalgamated name is a name that is formed by combining several previously existing names. These may take the form of an acronym (where only one letter of each name is taken) or a blend (where a large part of each name is taken, such as the first syllable).
Amalgamated names are most commonly used for amalgamated businesses, characters and places. Newly arising partnerships may also choose to name themselves by amalgamating their names.Augustus Sclafani
Augustus Sclafani, d. 1986, also known as "Big Gus", was a New York mobster who was a mob associate with the Gambino crime family. Sclafani is not to be confused with the younger Augustus "Gus Boy" Sclafani, another Gambino family member.
During the 1970s, Sclafani and Mildred Russo, his mother-in-law, used her position as a court clerk in the federal court in Manhattan to leak confidential information on the Gambino family to Paul Castellano. In 1987, both Russo and Sclafani were indicted for racketeering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Sclafini had already been declared as a fugitive from justice, although law enforcement believed that Sclafani was dead.
According to mob witness Sammy Gravano, while Paul Castellano was boss of the Gambino family, Sclafani accused Gambino mobster Frank DeCicco of being a mob informant. DeCicco successfully defended himself from this charge and told Gravano that he would murder Sclafani after Castellano was out of power. In 1986, Gambino hitman Joseph Watts shot and stabbed Sclafani to death in a club in Little Italy, Manhattan on orders from new Gambino boss John Gotti.
After Castellano's murder, DeCicco told Gravano that "Gus is gone."Big Man on Mulberry Street
"Big Man on Mulberry Street" is a jazz influenced song by Billy Joel from the 1986 album The Bridge.The song's title refers to Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City.
Jazz musician Ron Carter plays acoustic bass on the track. The horn section includes acclaimed musicians Eddie Daniels on alto saxophone, Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone, Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone, Marvin Stamm and Alan Rubin (a.k.a. Mr Fabulous) on trumpets and Dave Bargeron (of Blood, Sweat & Tears) on trombone.
An extended version of the song was used on a season three episode of Moonlighting. The episode was also titled "Big Man on Mulberry Street". In a dream sequence, Maddie Hayes envisions David Addison's history with his ex-wife, presented as an elaborate dance sequence with no dialogue; Sandahl Bergman was the main dancer. An extra horn solo was added to the song.Ciro Perrone
Ciro Perrone (January 8, 1921 – November 26, 2011) was a New York City mobster and soldier in the Genovese crime family. Perrone was captain Matthew Ianniello's top soldier and his second-in-command since the 1970s.
At various times, Perrone served as the acting captain of Ianniello's powerful Downtown Manhattan crew. This crew was active with gambling activities in Times Square, labor racketeering, skimming money from business, and the Feast of San Gennaro street festival in Little Italy, Manhattan. Genovese crime family associate Paul Kahl is the son-in-law of Perrone born c.a. 1952.
Perrone mainly operated from an Italian restaurant in Ozone Park, Queens. FBI surveillance devices picked up many conversations between Perrone and other family members, including several in which Perrone complained of the Growing Up Gotti TV show. In one conversation, Perrone exclaimed: "It's a soap opera, and the kids look like girls." Colombo crime family member Ralph Scopo replied that it tarnished mob boss John Gotti's image. Both said it was making Italian-Americans look bad.
On July 28, 2007, Perrone was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, extortion, loansharking, labor racketeering, and the operation of illegal gambling businesses. Perrone was convicted at his retrial and will face about four years in a federal prison. He will be over 90 before being eligible for release. Perrone was imprisoned at the Federal Medical Facility Devens in eastern Massachusetts.
Perrone died on November 26, 2011.Clams casino
Clams casino is a clam 'on the halfshell' dish with breadcrumbs and bacon. Green peppers are also a common ingredient.It originated in Rhode Island in the United States. It is often served as an appetizer in New England and is served in variations nationally.Ignazio Lupo
Ignazio Lupo (Italian: [iɲˈɲattsjo ˈluːpo]; March 21, 1877 – January 13, 1947), also known as Ignazio Saietta and Lupo the Wolf, was a Sicilian American Black Hand leader in New York City during the early 1900s. His business was centered in Little Italy, Manhattan, where he ran large extortion operations and committed other crimes including robberies, loan-sharking, and murder. By the start of the 20th century, Lupo merged his crew with others in the South Bronx and East Harlem to form the Morello crime family, which became the leading Mafia family in New York City.Suspected of at least 60 murders, he was not caught by authorities until 1910, when the Secret Service arrested him for running a large scale counterfeiting ring in the Catskills. He was paroled after serving 10 years of a 30-year sentence. A few years later, he was forced into retirement by the emerging National Crime Syndicate led by Lucky Luciano.Jonathan Miller
Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller, CBE (born 21 July 1934) is an English theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humourist, and medical doctor. After training in medicine, and specialising in neurology, in the late 1950s, he came to prominence in the early 1960s in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.
Miller began directing operas in the 1970s. A production is his 1982 "Mafia"-styled Rigoletto set in 1950s Little Italy, Manhattan. In its early days he was an associate director at the National Theatre and later ran the Old Vic Theatre. As a writer/presenter of more than a dozen BBC documentaries, he has become a television personality and public intellectual in Britain and the United States.Joseph D'Amico
Joseph D'Amico (born 1955 in Little Italy, Manhattan), also known as "Joey The Mook," was a made man in the Bonanno crime family who later turned government informant. "Mook" is Italian-American slang for knucklehead or idiot. D'Amico was a long-time street soldier who worked under his cousin, Richard Cantarella.List of The Sopranos characters in the Lupertazzi crime family
The Lupertazzi crime family is a fictional Mafia family from the HBO series The Sopranos. It is thought to be loosely based on the real Lucchese and Gambino crime families.
The Lupertazzi crime family consists of an administration and various crews, eight of which are depicted over the course of the series.
The following is a listing of fictional characters from The Sopranos that are associated with the Lupertazzi crime family.List of restaurant districts and streets in the United States
This is a list of notable restaurant districts and streets in the United States. Restaurant districts and streets are sometimes referred to as "restaurant row".Little Italy
Little Italy is a general name for an ethnic enclave populated primarily by Italians or people of Italian ancestry, usually in an urban neighborhood. The concept of "Little Italy" holds many different aspects of the Italian culture. There are shops selling Italian goods as well as Italian restaurants lining the streets. A "Little Italy" strives essentially to have a version of the country of Italy placed in the middle of a big non-Italian city. This sort of enclave is often the result of periods of immigration in the past, during which people of the same culture settled together in certain areas. As cities modernized and grew, these areas became known for their ethnic associations, and towns like "Little Italy" blossomed, becoming the icons they are today.Matthew Ianniello
Matthew Joseph "Matty the Horse" Ianniello (June 18, 1920 – August 15, 2012) was a New York mobster with the Genovese crime family, of which he was once the acting boss. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ianniello controlled the lucrative adult entertainment business that was then centered in the Times Square section of Manhattan.Morello crime family
The Morello crime family (Italian: [moˈrɛllo]) was one of the earliest crime families to be established in the United States and New York City. The Morellos were based in Manhattan's Italian Harlem and eventually gained dominance in the Italian underworld by defeating the rival Neapolitan Camorra of Brooklyn.Nicholas Morello
Nicolò Terranova (1890 – September 7, 1916), also known as Nicholas "Nick" Morello, was one of the first Italian-American organized crime figures in New York City. Along with his half-brother Giuseppe Morello and brothers Ciro and Vincenzo Terranova, he founded the Morello crime family, and was later one of the participants in the Mafia-Camorra War of 1914-17.
Terranova was born in Corleone, Sicily, in 1890 to parents Bernardo Terranova and Angelina Piazza. In 1893, Terranova emigrated from Sicily with his family, including his brothers Ciro and Vincenzo, arriving in New York on March 8, 1893. In 1903, Nicolo's sister Salvatrice Terranova married Ignazio "the Wolf" Lupo, who was running the Black Hand organization in Little Italy, Manhattan. Lupo went on to become underboss of the Morello crime family. In 1910, when Lupo and Giuseppe Morello were arrested for counterfeiting, Terranova, now known as Nicholas Morello, became the boss of the Morello crime family.
Nicholas Morello rose far above his relations to realize that the Americanization of the gangs would have to give birth to a great criminal network, each of its components at peace with the others and in concert controlling all the rackets in the country. In fact, Nicholas Morello should have had an easier time organizing crime in America than Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky would later, but he found himself too mired down by old-country conflicts.While Nicholas Morello Sicilian gangs controlled the rackets of East Harlem and Greenwich Village in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Camorristas, immigrant criminals from the Camorra gangs of Naples, extended their power in Brooklyn, collecting protection money from Italian storekeepers, coal and ice dealers and other businessmen, as well as operating rackets on the Brooklyn docks.In 1915, Brooklyn Camorra leader Pellegrino Morano, a man who had his own dreams of expansion, began moving in on the Morello family's Manhattan territory of East Harlem and Greenwich Village. After a Neapolitan ally of the Morello family, Goisue Gallucci was killed in East Harlem. The more forward-looking Nicholas Morello thought it foolish to continue such old battles and offered to make a peaceful settlement. Pellegrino Morano took such a move as a sign of weakness and spurned the offer. By 1916 the warfare was so intense that only the most hardy mafiosi or Camorrista dared cross the East River into the other's domain. They usually returned home in a hearse.Surprisingly, that same year Pellegrino Morano announced he was in favor of Nicholas Morello's call for an armistice. Morano invited Morello to come to Brooklyn to discuss terms, of course guaranteeing Morello safe conduct. Morello proved wisely cautious and for six months did no more than dicker about holding such a peace meeting, though he realized he would have to go if he hoped to advance his master plan. The war between New York's Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra lasted for over two years.Perry Criscitelli
Perry Criscitelli (born 1950) is a New York restaurant owner who is an alleged member of the Bonanno crime family. Criscitelli owns several restaurants and previously managed a popular city street festival.
In 1996, Criscitelli was selected as president of Figli di San Gennaro, the Feast of San Gennaro, an Italian street festival that takes place every September on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan. In 1995, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had threatened to close the festival because it was controlled by the Genovese crime family. Instead, he chose Criscitelli to run it because Criscitelli was supposedly not associated with organized crime.
However, during the 2004 trial of Bonanno crime family boss Joe Massino, it was revealed in court that Criscitelli joined the Bonanno family in 2001 and was a major moneymaker for them. Mobster Richard Cantarella testified that he attended Criscitelli's induction ceremony, and that mob figures regularly discussed family business at one of Criscitelli's restaurants. While serving as acting boss of the Bonanno family, Vincent Basciano allegedly met with Criscitelli several times and briefed jailed Bonanno boss Joseph Massino on Criscitelli's activities. Criscitelli categorically denied any involvement with organized crime.
On July 27, 2004, Criscitelli resigned as head of the Feast of San Gennaro, citing the best interests of the festival. In recent years, Criscitelli sold his Italian restaurant on Staten Island, New York. However, his family still owns Da Nico in Little Italy, one of Giuliani's favorite eateries, along with Pellegrino’s, Novello, Il Palazzo, La Nonna and SPQR.Spring Street station (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
Spring Street is a local station on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Spring Street in SoHo and Little Italy, Manhattan, it is served by the 6 train at all times, the <6> during weekdays in the peak direction, and the 4 during late night hours.The Elegants
The Elegants is an American doo-wop vocal group, that was started in 1958 by Vito Picone, Arthur Venosa, Frank Tardogno, Carmen Romano and James Moschello in South Beach, Staten Island, New York. Before their nursery rhyme inspired song, "Little Star", became a number one hit, the band usually performed informally under the boardwalk by their homes. "Little Star" was the only million seller for the group, and was written by Venosa and Picone.
It spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, earning gold disc status.The song reached number 25 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1958.After their success with "Little Star", the band, still in their teens, toured with artists such as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. However, none of their subsequent singles reached the charts at all making them a prime example of one-hit wonders.
In early 1970s, lead singer Picone returned to the group replacing Tardogno as the lead singer. That group comprising Vito Picone, Freddie Redmond, Nino Amato and Bruce Copp have been together ever since and to this date, have not stopped touring. They can be seen annually performing at the San Gennaro Festival, in Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City.
According to the Elegants website, Freddie Redmond died of emphysema in 2006, and was replaced by original member, James Moschella. As of 2012, the Elegants are still performing at concerts and events throughout the United States, under the name "Vito Picone & The Elegants". They still perform "Little Star", as well as their interpretations of many golden oldies. The Elegants band members include Joe Lucenti on lead guitar, Alex "Al Bal" Leonard and Mark Garni on keyboards, Mike Catalano and Pete Gamby on electric bass, Vinny Cognato and Sal Albanese on drums.
Moschella performed with The Charts in the 1980s.Carmen Romano died on August 2, 2016 at the age of 76.
Original member, Artie Venosa died on April 20, 2018.The Mamalukes
The Mamalukes were a professional wrestling tag team in World Championship Wrestling.Tristan Eaton
Tristan Eaton is a graffiti artist, street art muralist, illustrator and toy designer.
Eaton was born in Hollywood, California, in 1978. Tristan co-designed the Dunny Toy when he was 18. Shortly after Eaton teamed up with toy designer Paul Budnitz to produce "Kid Robot." He then moved to New York City at 20 years of age and attended the New York School of Visual Arts. In 2009, Eaton was the designer of Soul Train Music Awards for BET a subsidiary of Viacom. 2013, Eaton went back to the streets of New York City and created the mural Audrey of Mulberry in Little Italy, Manhattan. Eaton’s works are displayed at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City as well as the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
below 14th St
(CB 1, 2, 3)
|Midtown (CB 5)|
|West Side (CB 4, 7)|
|East Side (CB 6, 8)|
above 110th St
(CB 9, 10, 11, 12)