Section: Italian Harlem

Directory: New York City History

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Intro:  I have dedicated this section to the Italian American people for their passion in preserving their traditions and culture and to  past /present residents of Italian Harlem. (East Harlem) Despite  their struggles and despair, living in horrendous  conditions of tenement living amid the crime, filth and disease, the early Italian immigrant worked extremely hard overcoming their  obstacles of discrimination, illiteracy and poverty giving place to a new image of productive and successful Italian American citizens.


The Italian National Anthem






These are the dedicated individuals to whom we have to be thankful for, who are keeping the memories of the old neighborhood and traditions alive of the Italian American people in East Harlem.

Miriam Medina


  Miriam Medina, is the founder of the and author of the "Mimi Speaks Blogspot". She was born and raised in East Harlem (known then as Italian Harlem) and lived at 1791 Lexington Avenue between 111th and 112th street. Having nieces and nephews of Italian descent, Miriam has dedicated this section to the Italian American people for their passion in preserving their traditions and culture. Read her memoir of the old neighborhood on the Neighborhood page. She is an active member of the following societies: The New York Historical Society, Urban History Association, American Association for State and Local History, the National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty, the National Council for History Education ,The Foundation For the National Archives , National Associate Member of the Smithsonian Institute, Member of the National Italian American Foundation , American Italian Historical Association Associate Member of the American Translators Association and Diamond Level Expert Author at

One other major accomplishment to which we must give credit to Miriam Medina is the current inter-relationship between Brusciano, Italy and the Italian community of Italian Harlem. For two years  Miriam who is a member of the NIAF and the American Italian Historical Association  has been communicating with Dr. Antonio Castaldo, who is Head of the Brusciano Press Office in Italy, exchanging news between both countries and translating for free the Italian Press Releases into English, so that the descendants of Brusciano, Italy who are here in America can keep in touch with their roots.  There is a separate section for these press releases, see below the "Brusciano, Italy News/Events page. Her memories of the Old Neighborhood is her drive, her passion to keep alive this web page on Italian Harlem.




Al Guerra

  Forty-three year old , Italian American first generation, Al Guerra, grew up in East Harlem, who followed the feast every summer. Although He currently lives in Florida with his wife and three children, he still travels to East Harlem every year for the Feast. Al Guerra has managed to put together a fascinating website about the Feast of Mt. Carmel .This is a wonderful website dedicated to the people who helped make this great festive tradition possible. This website portrays a yearly tradition that has been in existence among the Italian Immigrants since 1881 and will continue to exist even into the future. Lots of research , photos and valuable historical information has been invested by its webmaster in the preparation of this website. A definite must see. Please visit their photo gallery for pictures of the feast.

Bobby Maida

  Another important website which I would like to mention that is dedicated to Italian Traditions, the Giglio di San Antonio in East Harlem, which is an Italian Festa in continium since the early 19th century. Bob Maida, who is an active member and photographer of the East Harlem Giglio Society has done a fantastic job of providing pictures, current as well as historical which can be viewed by the public. Bobby is a man with a positive vision. He is the force behind the spirit in promoting the Feast of the Giglio. Here is the link to the Giglio Society of East Harlem. Photo Gallery

Thank you Bobby.

Visit Bobby's East Harlem Website, a fantastic worthwhile learning experience of visual arts and information.

Angela Bella Puco

Angela Bella Puco is a very special and hard working woman. Although she is a mother of 3  young children, she still has managed to find time in her whirlwind of madness to create 4 wonderful websites that are rich with family as well as the old neighborhood history. I would like to use Angela's own words to explain her vision and her passion for Italian Harlem.

"I'll have to admit that I spent many a late night, and many a late morning working on this passion of mine. Sometimes the laundry didn't get done on time, and I missed beautiful days outdoors, but it was all worth it for me. I never tire of it. I enjoy family history research, photographic preservation and restoration-anything connected to photography. I have a large collection of out of print books related to immigration history and urban development. Many books, if not all, on East Harlem as well as a large ephemera collection. I gave Chris Bell a half dozen photos of me and my family to put in his latest photo book about East Harlem. I am trying to organize my thoughts so that I can write my own book on the Italians of East Harlem.

The current project that I am working on is a podcast format. I just have to figure out exactly how I am going to do this. I would love to have a "radio hour" of sorts, whereby I converse with a person who once lived in the old neighborhood. I can add background music, and a theme of the day-type of approach. The first person that I am going to interview is my dad, of course! He is 87 yrs young and his mind is chock-full of memories of his youthful days in East Harlem. "

"I'm babbling...I could go on and on about this subject."  SEE WHAT I MEAN? HER ENERGY IS UNBELIEVABLE.

Charles DeMonte


Charles DeMonte was born in East Harlem, New York. Known and loved by all his friends from the old neighborhood, as Charlie D, he has developed a fantastic site in such a short period of time that has been overwhelmed with past and present residents  visiting and talking about the good old days in East Harlem., once known as "Italian Harlem."  Through Charlie's website "The Old Neighborhood Online" he has enabled people to reconnect with each other on a daily basis. Charlie expresses his thanks to the Giglio Boys and the East Harlem Reunions for revitalizing the spirit of East Harlem. Thanks Charlie for the memories.  M.M.


Phil Bruno

   Phil Bruno was born in East Harlem. He is originally from 106th Street, where the first Giglio feast was celebrated in 1908 or 1909. His great grandfather was Francisco Vivolo from Brusciano, Italy who prayed to Sant'Antonio to help heal his deathly ill son. Vivolo promised Saint Anthony if his prayer should be answered that he would have a Gigli contructed in his honor and dance it in the streets of Brusciano, in the same manner as the town's people of Nola, Italy honored San Paolino di Nola. Vivolo's prayers were answered, and thus the dancing of the Gigli in Brusciano was launched.

Phil Bruno is an active member of The Sons of San Paolino di Nola, The Giglio Society of East Harlem and Our lady of Mount Carmel Holy Name Society.



Once Upon A Time In America: The Early Italian Immigrant's Assimilation Experience Part 1 of 4

Once Upon A Time In America: The Early Italian Immigrant's Assimilation Experience Part 2 of 4

Once Upon A Time In America: The Early Italian Immigrant's Assimilation Experience Part 3 of 4

Once Upon A Time In America: The Early Italian Immigrant's Assimilation Experience Part 4 of 4



Click Here for Article



To Read the Article on the Parade











Celebrating An Italian Heritage In East Harlem, New York Part I

Celebrating An Italian Heritage In East Harlem, New York Part II

Celebrating An Italian Heritage In East Harlem, New York Part III



 Other Articles Written on East Harlem, New York

Crusin' The 50s in a Volatile East Harlem

East Harlem, New York: Microcosm of the Melting Pot





This article was Published in the April 7, 2011 edition of the Italian Tribune

By Miriam B. Medina

Italian Harlem? You could say it was a helluva neighborhood. Previously known as the "Little Italy of East Harlem”, it was located between 104th and 119th streets, from Third Avenue to the East River. It once teemed with Italian immigrants running businesses. It was a small village within a big city.

Many Italian immigrants escaping poverty moved to East Harlem. A large number of southern Italians that arrived in NYC during the last quarter of the 19th century also established communities in East Harlem. By the 1930's, it was the largest Italian village in the city.

Life in Italian Harlem during the thirties and forties was filled with tight knit communities and caring neighbors. Courageous Italians, despite discrimination, hardships and suffering, adapted themselves to their new environment, promoted and celebrated their culture and religious feasts, customs that were handed down through the generations by their immigrant ancestors who were once the mainstay of civilization in the neighborhood. It was a neighborhood where lasting relationships were continuously formed. So strong was this sense of neighborhood that many families and their descendants would stay there forever.

The advent of the public housing projects after World War II disrupted the peaceful life and relationships of thousands of Italian Harlem residents, demolishing the tenements which housed them. The separation became unbearable for many families and close friends who were torn apart to make way for progress. Others, benefiting from the improvement in the American economy, chose to move from East Harlem to the suburban areas of New York City.

Although many former residents from Italian Harlem have passed on, it is their children and grandchildren that continue to maintain the memories of the old neighborhood. Anna Barone, a vivacious woman of strength and compassion, understood this strong sense of neighborhood ties, because Italian Harlem coursed through her roots, as well. Aside from the Italian community intermingling with each other at the religious feasts year after year, Anna Barone strived for something greater by establishing the East Harlem Reunion in 2005.

She loved everyone and everyone loved her. Through the East Harlem Reunion, her vision to preserve the culture and bonds of friendship that have been passed down from one generation to another still lives. It was extremely important to her to keep the magic of friendship alive.

Anna Barone not only wanted these reunions to be happy ones, filled with laughter, hugs and kisses, amidst the wonderful sense of food, drink and superb music, she also wanted the younger generation to share in those memories, as well. Sadly, Anna Barone, passed away last year, leaving behind a terrible void within the Italian Community. Although Anna Barone will not be present, her spirit and all that she represented will be there, alive and well, celebrating its heritage.

This year, in honor of Anna Barone, The East Harlem Reunion will be celebrated on Friday April 29, at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $90 per person and include an open bar, appetizers, entrees and desserts. There will be delicious food, terrific music and a ballroom full of East Harlemites. What more can you want? For more information please contact Bob Maida at (914) 787-0692.



 The Neighborhood

Blogs to visit, memories, learn about italian Harlem and its historical and  infamous past. Many articles to read.
The Italian Immigration Page

Causes and effects of the Italian Immigration to America. There are also you-tubes in italian with English sub-titles, reflecting on this.
Worship/Religious Feasts

Read about the Religious Feasts, of the Italian Community. You-tubes of the Giglio  Feasts in East Harlem and elsewhere, pictures of the Feast of Mt. Carmel. A worthwhile page visit
Mangia, Mangia

Ummmmmmm.....delizioso. Learn how to cook Italian food from an Italian Nonna.
Music Gallery of Past/Present Italian and Italian American performers.

I suggest you find yourself a comfortable chair and serve yourself a cup of steaming espresso or a glass of good wine. Enjoy the music.
In Memory Of

Famous Italian performers whose music meant so much to us.
Italian Humor

you-tubes and other interesting jokes. Very funny.
Italian Community

 Articles and weblinks of Italians elsewhere in New York.
Italian Harlem Message Board

A place to share memories about the old neighborhood. You can comment on Twitter or e-mail me, and it will be posted.
Bobby Maida's East Harlem

On the blog is a link to Bobby's website. Pictures, you-tubes etc. a worthwhile visit. Don't miss it.
Al Guerra's "Our Lady of Mount Carmel of East Harlem website.

On the blog is a link to Al's website: this is also a must see.

















  Pleasant Days Trailer

Rao's Restaurant

Frank Serenade



Claudio's Barber Shop


Courtesy of Bobby Maida-112 and 113 street on first avenue






Photo Courtesy:

"The popularity of bocce meant that by the 1950s, bocce courts had become common features alongside shuffleboard courts, handball courts, and horseshoe pits in playgrounds across the city. By the 1950s, Parks Department counted bocce as one of the "popular activities that lure New Yorkers. Bocce is played predominantly by Italian communities, especially those in New York. The first bocce courts in New York City Parks were established by Mayor La Guardia in 1934 at Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan, in the middle of what was then a predominantly Italian neighborhood." (







This was the Salerno Parking Lot on 111th Street during the 50s. My brother-in-law Adam Salerno with sunglasses and his younger brother Frankie.



This was my older brother Micheal in the J.Salerno & Sons Parking Lot on 111th street, Italian Harlem during the 50s



Courtesy of Bobby Maida-113th street and first avenue



Courtesy of Bobby Maida: 113th street and First NW corner

Bruscianese  Passenger  List  to America

This has been a very time-consuming ongoing research project which I am doing for the benefit of the Bruscianese descendants. Please do not copy lists. You are welcomed to link to these pages.

Many families from the town of Brusciano, Italy migrated to East Harlem, NY to start anew with other families and friends that came before them. Although these Immigrants brought little with them on their 30-day long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in the tight confines of the boat, what they did carry with them were their beloved traditions. For the people of Brusciano, this included the yearly Dance of the Giglio Festival in honor of Sant’Antonio.

Upon their arrival, the Italian immigrants of East 106th Street in East Harlem decided to initiate their beloved traditions by building a Giglio and dancing it in the ‘New World’. The Festival on 106th Street grew for many years becoming one of the largest street fairs in America.


Per favore, se qualcuno avesse un antenato in Brusciano e il loro nome non è incluso in tali elenchi di lettere A-G si prega di contattare: modo che io possa cercare il loro record di arrivo. Grazie tanto.

NOTE: Please if anyone had an ancestor in Brusciano and their name is not included on these lists of Letters A-G please contact: so I can search for their record of arrival. Thank you so much.


"The photos show us things we would otherwise have to imagine from verbal descriptions. That's why photos are so important they tell us so much more than any text does."  Professor Norman Thorpe

Standing Tall In The Shadows Of A New York Tragedy That United The World: September 11, 2001 By Miriam B. Medina

The History Box Remembers September 11, 2001

Brusciano, Italy Remembers September 11, 2001

Dr. Antonio Castaldo Brusciano, Italy.


Clicca qui per accedere e leggere gli articoli in italiano e inglese



Bruscianese Felice Giannino author of the collection of poems, songs and memoirs entitled "Land of the Artists," has passed away. Felice Giannino was  one of the greatest artistic contributor of lyrics and ballads to the Feast of the Giglio in Brusciano, Italy.   His  were the songs that the festivity masters would turn to each year.

For a beautiful  Eulogy written by Dr. Antonio Castaldo please click here  for the English Version.    

Clicca qui per leggere la memoria scritta di dott. Antonio Castaldo.



On August 4, 2010 I received a press release from my journalist friend Dr. Antonio Castaldo, of Brusciano, Italy which conveyed greetings and best wishes to the Feast of the Giglio of Sant'Antonio in East Harlem, New York with also a reference to Miriam Medina, Bobby Maida Phil Bruno, and the entire Italian Community of East Harlem, from the Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano, President of the Giglio Feast Commission, Nicola Di Maio and President of City Council, Antonio Di Palma. I would like to share this press release with you which I have translated into English for your benefit..



Press Release: August 4, 2010

"Best wishes are extended from the Administration and City Council of Brusciano to the Feast of the Giglio of Sant' Antonio in East Harlem, New York."

Since the commencement of the last century on the initiative of Bruscianese emigrants was born in New York in the neighborhood of East Harlem the "Giglio Feast of Sant' Antonio. Even today, the third and fourth generations born to these undaunted immigrants practice the Feast of the Giglio along with Brusciano in memory of their ancestors and of distant Brusciano.

This week, such festive event will be repeated from August 5-8. To the organizers and the "Giglio Society" are expressed with this statement best wishes and fraternal greetings on behalf of the entire Community of Brusciano through Mayor, Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano, President of the Giglio Feast Commission, Nicola Di Maio, and  President of City Council, Antonio Di Palma.

There are many innovations that have been coming out in the course of studies, research, professional contacts and sincere friendship between Antonio Castaldo, sociologist and journalist, head of the Press Office of the City of Brusciano, and Miriam Medina researcher and founder of the American history website : Bob Maida webmaster of and Phil Bruno descendant of the Vivolo Family that immigrated to the United States in the early part of 1900. Just one member of this family, Rocco Vivolo began circa 100 years ago, the Feast of the Giglio of Sant' Antonio in East Harlem, New York. Another historical capoparanza (leader of the lifters) figure in America is that of Angelo Granata New York 1917-2001) last of nine children of parents Annunziata and Antonio who left Brusciano in the early part of 1900. This leader is remembered for his devotion to the saint and for his technical capacity in managing the ballad of the Giglio of Sant'Antonio in the Feast of Gigli in America.

The head of the press office, Antonio Castaldo, informed Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano, President of City Council, Antonio Di Palma and the President of the Feast of the Gigli of Brusciano, Nicola Di Maio of this event suggesting the sending of an Institutional greeting. This morning August 4, 2010, at the beginning of the City Council meeting there was a salutation to the Italian American community celebrating this weekend in New York, with the Giglio of Sant'Antonio di Padova. Here is the text read by President Antonio Di Palma:





We express our brotherly greeting and warm best wishes to the organizers, civil and religious authorities and to the Italian American Community of East Harlem, New York among which are many Bruscianese whose ancestors started the Feast of the Giglio di Sant'Antonio di Padova in America. The pride of historical affiliation and shared cultural and religious symbols binds us in time for centuries despite the geographical distance. So with the embrace of the whole Brusciano Community.

Responsible for this press release:  Dr.  Antonio Castaldo Tel. 081.5218249 Fax 081. 5190191 e-mail:     


 Letter of acknowledgement from the Mayor and City Council of Brusciano, Italy .

(Pending English Translation by Miriam Medina)

Responsabile dott. Antonio Castaldo Tel. 081.5218249 Fax 081. 5190191 e-mail:



Press Release: August 24, 2010

"Best wishes have been expressed to the Municipality of Brusciano for their 135th edition of the Feast of the Gigli  from the American website "" by Miriam Medina on behalf of the Giglio Society of East Harlem, New York.

During the City Council's last session which was held on August 4th, Antonio Di Palma, President of the Council expressed, on behalf of Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano, the municipal administration, municipal councilors and the entire Bruscianese community, good wishes for the Feast of the Giglio of  Sant'Antonio in East Harlem, New York, which is about one hundred years held at the initiative of the descendants of the Bruscianese immigrants in the USA in partnership with the Italian American community.

In today's mail a letter of thanks was received from Miriam Medina, a researcher of social history and founder of the website "" which houses among the others, a section devoted to Italian Americans in East Harlem and a useful contact with Italy communicated through the Press Office of the City of Brusciano.

Here is the text of the letter:

"To the Courteous Attention of: Mayor, Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano; President of City Council, Antonio Di Palma; President of the Feast of the Giglio Commission, Nicola Di Maio; Honourable Members of the Administration and City Council; Director of the Press Office; Antonio Castaldo; The Gigli Association and the entire Community of Brusciano;

I would like to express to all of you, on behalf of myself, Bob Maida, Phil Bruno; the Giglio Society; the organizers of the Feast of the Giglio of Sant'Antonio di Padova in East Harlem, New York; civil and religious authorities; as well as the entire Italian community of East Harlem and New York; our greatest appreciation for your warm Institutional greeting and good wishes which you have kindly sent us. We trust that despite the geographical distance, we will continue to preserve the pride of historical affiliation as well as share in cultural and religious symbols for years to come.
And for the 135th edition of the Feast of the Gigli of Brusciano we reciprocate the greeting.
Good wishes to all of you and to the jubilant Bruscianese Community.
Once again, thank you. Good Feast of the Gigli at Brusciano.

                                                                                                           Founder of the website "
                                                                                                   Miriam Medina

Mayor, Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano has expressed "the most vivid thanks and fraternal greetings from all of Brusciano to the Italian American Community and Bruscianese descendants that have carried in their hearts the symbols of faith and in the social and  cultural practices the ancient tradition of the Giglio for Sant'Antonio di Padova.

Responsabile dott. Antonio Castaldo Tel. 081.5218249 Fax 081. 5190191 e-mail:


Letter sent to  Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano and City Council of Brusciano, Italy from the Giglio Society's Board of Directors expressing best wishes for their feast of the Gigli di Sant'Antonio, August 25-31, 2010.


Sindaco,  Angelo Antonio Romano;

Presidente del Consiglio Comunale, Antonio Di Palma;

Presidente della Commissione Festa del Giglio, Nicola Di Maio;

Signori Membri dell’Amministrazione e del Consiglio Comunale;

Responsabile Ufficio Stampa, Antonio Castaldo;

Associazioni dei Gigli ed Intera Comunità di Brusciano;



The Board of Directors/Capo Paranzas (Paul DelliCarpini, Victor Dellicurti, Frank Fazzalari, Peter Fazzalari, James Nunziata, Dominick Russello, Thomas Russo, Frank Uvenio, Frank Uvenio Jr and John Zangaglia) and all the Members of The Giglio Society of East Harlem wish to extend our warmest greetings to everyone in Brusciano. We hope that your upcoming Feast and the Dancing of the Gigli di Sant' Antonio  August 25-31, 2010 proves to be a great success for all of you.

As you know, the origin of the Feast of the Giglio di Sant' Antonio in America can be traced back to immigrants from Brusciano who migrated to East 106th Street in East Harlem in the early 1900's. What they brought with them to the new country was their pride and devotion to the Giglio. It should be noted that the largest Italian American community in the history of America was in the East Harlem section of Manhattan. Many Italians migrated from different parts of Italy to this neighborhood. Shortly after the Annual Feasts began, the Italians from these different parts of Italy also embraced the Giglio tradition. Today, we can definitely state that the Feast has participation from descendents of immigrants from each and every region in Italy.

We have the same passion, devotion and pride in Dancing the Giglio di Sant' Antonio today as did the early immigrants from Bruscian0. We are very proud to state that we build a truly authentic Giglio in America from a size, height, and adornment of the face perspective. We also build the entire structure in wood.

We once again wish to extend our warmest wishes to everyone in Brusciano and would like to send our most sincerest regards to everyone in Brusciano.

Buon Festa..........e' Viva Sant' Antonio !!!



 Roma - Museo Vaticano.  Antino... Digital ID: 1624752. New York Public Library

Benvenuti nel Forum Arte & Cultura

Clicca qui per Visita.

Raccomando caldamente questo sito, è assolutamente da vedere. Potrete fare una valida esperienza educativa ricca di arte e cultura. Esso contiene un sacco di foto e di preziose informazioni di storia e di cultura. I giovani curatori di questo forum hanno investito tempo ed energie per trattare i numerosi argomenti. Un'occasione per tutti i visitatori di scegliere e partecipare a questo accattivante forum.

                                                                Miriam Medina


Click Here


        The Italian Niche  (Where everything Italian/Italian-American Goes)

This is a new addition to my blog "Mimi Speaks" for the benefit of Italians and Italian Americans. My objective is to stimulate interest in Italian culture, arts, traditions and much more. There will be articles in both languages, music and other interesting topics that will be published from time to time for all visitors. If you have anything you would like to contribute, please send it to me for my review.

To contact: or



 [Roman theater at Verona, Ital... Digital ID: 1624179. New York Public Library

The Roman Theater at Verona, Italy

The Wonders of Ancient Italy
Architectural Decorations & Ornaments
Castles & Palaces of Italy
Clothing & Dress 1200-1800s
Glass Painting and Staining-Italy

Rome History (images)






Play this song to get the feel for the 50s



Cruisin' the 50s #1 Teen Fashion Trends , Doo-Woppin' , Greaser Slang, Rebellious Youth of the Swinging 50s.
Cruisin' the 50s #2 Cruisin' the 50s in East Harlem, Italian Harlem
Cruisin' the 50s #2a The Latin Flavor of  East Harlem's 50s,  Spanish Harlem
Cruisin' the 50s #3 Greasers Cruisin' for a Bruisin'
Cruisin' the 50s #4 Cruisin' the 50s with the Champ (Rocky Marciano)
Cruisin' the 50s #5 Cruisin' the 50s Sports
Cruisin' the 50s #6 Cruisin' with the Crooners (Frank Sinatra, etc.)
Cruisin' the 50s #7 Come On Baby....Let's Rock and Roll
Cruisin' the 50s #8 America's Favorite Pastime of the 50s (Television)




The Italian Tribune Newspaper


The National Italian American Foundation

Become a member and help support the NIAF defend the Italian American culture and heritage. Let your voice be heard. Where there is Unity, there is strength.



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