Section:Italian Harlem: The Neighborhood

Directory: New York City History

 Summary: Click on the link to view the complete article.  NOTE: May open in new window and leave The History's Website

New York, New York, it's a hellava town. Italian Harlem? You could say, it was also a hellava neighborhood. It was an uptown "Little Italy" located between 104th and 119th streets, from Third Avenue to the East River, no more than a couple of blocks long and wide, that once teemed with Italian immigrants, operating a large variety of stores and shops in a substantially self-sufficient way. There was always the familiar sight of Italian vendors displaying their wares from the push carts, along the crowded sidewalks of First avenue, drawing crowds from all over East Harlem searching for bargains. The delicious irresistible alluring aromas of espressos and Italian cuisine, from the many cafes and restaurants located along the Market Street would be carried by the summer breeze, enticing all to enter through their doors. A little city of its own within a big city, known previously as the "Little Italy" of East Harlem. It was very much a focus of New Yorkers' attentions during the early 1880s, when masses of Italian immigrants escaping the congestion of the notorious Mulberry bend area of lower Manhattan with its filthy overcrowded tenements, inadequate water and sanitation provisions moved to East Harlem. Italians from the regions of Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily bypassing the lower Manhattan area, established their communities here during the last quarter of the 19th century. A neighborhood, where an undaunted Italian community despite discrimination, hardships and suffering in adapting themselves to their new environment, has always worked diligently and consistently , preserving and promoting their cultural heritage. It was a neighborhood where life-long relationships never ceased to be formed. So powerful was this sense of neighborhood, that many families as well as their descendants till this day would spend their entire lives living within its confines. One of the most outstanding features of this neighborhood was and continues to be, the celebration of Catholic feasts, where the Italian worshippers would honor their saints. The Feast of Mt. Carmel, down on First Avenue, at one time in attendance there were 50,000 or more and the Giglio Feasts.

Now you ask me, why am I focusing so much on Italian Harlem? Because back then,  the neighborhood was not “Spanish Harlem” it was “Italian Harlem” and this is where most of my memories and experiences are based upon with helpful information from my oldest brother Barney. East Harlem, this was where I was born , raised and lived.. The building where I lived was located at 1791 Lexington Avenue, between 111th street and 112th street . It was a 6 story tenement building which had four railroad type apartments to each floor. Ours was a crowded two bedroom apartment, quite small for my family of nine--seven children , my parents and a German Sheppard dog. It was a neighborhood where two numerically dominant ethnic groups co-existed, the Italians and the Puerto Ricans and whose culture and language I became exposed to over the years  and absorbed. Although much has changed since then, it is my roots and they are strong, provoking nostalgic memories of those days in the old neighborhood, before it became Spanish Harlem and "El Barrio."

Even though East Harlem is now home to many recent diverse immigrants, there are still Italian Americans that continue to promote and celebrate their heritage and religious feasts; customs that were handed down through the generations by their immigrant ancestors who were once the cornerstone of civilization in this neighborhood. Today Italian Harlem has become a mere shadow of its former self, yet inexplicably there still seems to linger, ever so fresh, those unforgettable touching memories of an era that has long ceased to exist. So now let me take you, for a moment to my old neighborhood where I once lived in East Harlem, New York exposing you to the many aspects of its historic and  infamous past.



  Photo Credit: (This is 107th Street in Italian Harlem c.1912)



Section: Italian Harlem Information

Article: Italian Harlem 1939                                                         Posted 5/28/09
Web Link: Harlem Heritage Tours
Web Link: History of East Harlem
Web Link:
Web Link: Simply Red: by Mark Rotella: The old-fashioned Italian restaurant
Web Link: Orbit: East Harlem
Web Link: Italian Harlem: America's Largest and Most Italian Little Italy (New York City)            Checked out links 2/18/2012

Sub Section: Blogs That Relate To Italian Harlem

Web Link: Harlem Remember Italian Harlem (click on pictures to enlarge)
Special Mention:  Blog "Mimi Speaks",  Italian Harlem discussed.   

Read a Five Page essay on East Harlem by the title of "The Ebb and Flow of East Harlem's Ethnic Changes"

Sub Section: Neighborhood and Italian Ancestral Memories

Special Mention: Blog "Mimi Speaks", "I Remember Papa" (A very touching narration    (Feel free to share  cherished memories about your father or mother, I would like to create a special section on this page honoring them.)
Special Mention: Recollections of the Old Neighborhood-
Web Link: Remembering a Son and Daughter of Italy by Venera Di Bella Barles
Web Link: Coming to America by Luigi Cubello
Web Link: My Summers at Orchard Beach by Lou Cubello
Web Link: My Memory of My Trip To Camigliano by Toni DiBernardo Jones
Web Link: My Pop's Fruit & Vegetable Business by Bette Scavone
Web Link: Emiddio Colella & Carmela Micera by Nicola Colella
Web Link: Grateful Memories: A Memorial To My Mom Sarah Curci
Web Link: The Most Treasured Gifts Come Without Ribbons or Bows
Web Link: Once Upon a Time in Pescara
Web Link: Short Fences Kept Italian American Folks Neighborly
Web Link: Table Tells Tale of Family Togetherness
Web Link: When Accordion Music Ruled the Airways                        All links working properly a/o 2/18/2012

Sub Section: Remembering Those Who Made A Difference in East Harlem

Web Link: Rose Pascale (1916-2009)
Web Link: Pete Pascale, 82, Civic Leader Who Loved East Harlem, Dies
Web Link: Garibaldi Mario Lapolla 1930-1976                                                           Links working properly  2/18/2012

Sub Section: Footprints From East Harlem's Past

Web Link: Rebel in the House: The Life and Times of Vito Marcantonio
Web Link: Marcantonio: His Life and Millieu
Web Link: Tony Salerno 1911-1992 (Born and Raised in East Harlem)
Web Link: The American Mafia: Ignazio Lupo
Web Link: The American Mafia: Aniello Prisco
Web Link: I never sold Any Bibles: Frank Costello East 108th street
Web Link: Frank Costello
Web Link: Pelligrino Morano
Web Link: Giosue Gallucci
Web Link: vito Cascio Ferro
Web Link: East Harlem Map Circa 1910 (interesting)
Web Link: New York's Black Hand: Part I
Web Link: New York's Black Hand: Part II
Web Link: New York Camorra
Web Link: Carmine "Lilo" Galante
Web Link: New York Stories Part I
Web Link: New York Stories Part II
Web Link: New York Stories Part III
Web Link: The Murder Stables (1909-1915)
Web Link: The Black Hand
Web Link: Anthony Corallo, Mob Boss, Dies in Federal Prison at 87             All links working as of 2/18/2012

Sub Section: Walking the Beat: Italian Harlem's Police Blotter

Article: Bomb Exploded In Crowded Street During Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 1907         Posted 11/21/08
Article: Black Hand Bomb Wrecks Stores 1907                     Posted 7/5/09
Article: Slashed to Death in Jealous Fury 1907                     Posted 7/5/09
Article: Killed by Bullets, No Reports Heard 1910                  Posted 7/5/09
Article: Walking The Beat Through East Harlem's "Little Italy"  #1                     Posted 7/8/09
Article: Walking The Beat Through East Harlem's "Little Italy" #2                       Posted 8/13/09
Article: He Stabbed Two Women 1895       Posted 7/19/09
Article: An Unprovoked Murder: The Killing of John Schnetzer 1879               Posted 7/23/09
Article: A Fatal Stabbing Affray; An Italian Killed by his Companion. 1879       Posted 8/13/09
Article: Italian Quarrels and Knives 1884                                                          Posted 8/13/09
Article: Stabbed His Old Father For Love of a Girl 1906                                   Posted 9/20/09
Article: Stabs His Rival; Affray Between Two italians Over A Woman 1900   Posted 9/20/09
Article: Four Shot After Card Quarrel For Five Cents 1904                              Posted 11/23/09

Sub Section: "Straight From the Horse's Mouth" : The New York Times Reports on Italian Harlem and Its People.

Web Link: In East Harlem, Another Vestige of the Old Days Bids Farewell
Web Link: NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: HARLEM; Sharing a Saint: The 2 Worlds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Web Link: Pete Pascale, 82, Civic Leader Who Loved East Harlem, Dies.
Web Link: New Way to Support Old Church.
Web Link: WEDDINGS; Carla Madeira, Frank Pellegrino Jr.
Web Link: Flock Returns Anew to East Harlem Madonna.
Web Link: Ralph Salerno, a Police Expert on the Mafia, Dies at 78.
Web Link: The Man Behind the Festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Web Link: East Harlem Church Is Damaged in Fire.
Web Link: In Many Churches, Icons Compete for Space; Multiple Shrines to Patron Saints Testify to a Rivalry of the Devout.
Web Link: Pizza 2002: The State Of the Slice.
Web Link: Bomb explodes in East Harlem  1905
Web Link: Life in the 30's
Web Link: Police Fusillade Kills Woman in East Harlem
Web Link: The Top Pizzas In New York: Bred and Baked By Tradition
Web Link: New York Pizza, the Real Thing, Makes a Comeback
Web Link: Good Eating; The Old Harlem and the New
Web Link: Exporting A Pedigree to Midtown; New Restaurant Basks In Rao's East Harlem Aura  

 all links working a/o 2/18/2012

Sub Section:

SuThe Sicilian Corner   b Section:


 Roberto Alagna: The Sicilian (A brief description to give an insight into this video)


Roberto Alagna sings "Si Maritau Rosa" (Sicilien)




                                                               Parla Piu Piano: Roberto Alagna

                                                                               Bella Sicilia
Web Link: Sicilian Culture: Engagement, Wedding & Honeymoon Traditions
Web Link:
Web Link: Sicilian Culture: Superstititions
Web Link: Sicilian Culture: Tarantella Dance
Web Link: The Sicilian Dialect & Language: Proverbs
Web Link: My Sicilian Mama and Papa
Web Link: Sicilian Recipes
Web Link: Sicily and the Mafia PartI: What was the Traditional Mafia? Part I
Web Link: Sicily and the Mafia Part Two: Historical Background
Web Link: Sicily and the Mafia Part Three: Men of Honor, Omerta and the Cosca
Web Link: Sicily and the Mafia Part Four: Mussolini Takes on the Mafia
Web Link: Sicily and The Mafia Part Five: Boss Rule and Political Corruption
Web Link: The Sicilian Triangle
Web Link: The St. Joseph's Table                   All links working properly a/o 2/18/2012

Sub Section:

Music From Naples


Serenata Napoletana-Giuletta Sacco



Section The History Box's Choice as Best of the Web on Italian Harlem Information
Web Link: Our Lady of Mount Carmel of East Harlem website is a great educational tool for assisting us in learning all about Italian Harlem. A wonderful website that Al Guerra has created reflecting on the history, neighborhood, festivities of the patron saints, culture and traditions of the Italian people and their unforgettable Italian Harlem. Kudos to Al Guerra.
Web Link: East Harlem Giglio: Giglio di San Antonio in East Harlem, is an  Italian Festa in continium
since the early 19th century in East Harlem. Also lots of pictures, current as well as historical can be viewed in this website. There are links to other websites both in America and Italy that are devoted to or sponsors of Giglio Feasts. This is also a must see.
Web Link: The Old Neighborhood Online: This website is dedicated to East Harlem and the great people who once ( some still do ) called it home. It has enabled people to reconnect with their roots on a daily basis. Charles DeMonte, the creator of this website and a native of East Harlem stresses how the Giglio Boys and the East Harlem Reunions have revitalized the spirit of East Harlem. Though this website is fairly new, it has great potentials in being an informative site, teaching us about the  Italian people and their passion for preserving their culture and traditions of the old neighborhood. This is a definite must see.
Web Link: My Italian Harlem: This wonderful website reflects clearly the passion of its creator, Angela Bella Puco. For a nostalgic trip to the old neighborhood, I suggest you find yourself a comfortable chair and pour yourself a steaming  espresso and you'll be all set to settle down for a while, for there is a lot to see in her photo gallery as well as listening to selected nostalgic Italian music. This website shows great potential in being an informative site on Italian culture and the Italian Harlem neighborhood.

[return to top]                        All Links properly working as of 2/18/2012