Census Indicates Little Italy is Less Italian

In a New York Times profile, a troubling truth about NYC’s Little Italy neighborhood emerged: a census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in a two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.

The 2010 census also revealed that not one resident was born in Italy, either.

In a survey taken of the same area in 2000, the census found that the Italian-American population had dwindled to 6 percent. Only 44 were Italian-born, compared with 2,149 a half-century earlier.

In layman’s terms: Little Italy is becoming less and less, well, Italian.

In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. However, some locals speculate that Chinatown’s northward growth and SoHo expanding westward, as well as the rebranding of certain sections with more fashionable names NoLIta, which is an abbreviation for north of Little Italy, are part of the root causes of the section de-Italianizing. Mulberry and Grand Streets remain the most vibrant roads influenced by Italian culture, with plenty of Italian-centric food and shopping, but it’s not like it was during the neighborhood’s heyday.

Some residents feel that there has been an Asian takeover in the Little Italy region, and the National Park Service designated a Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District with no geographic distinction between the neighborhoods. The two neighborhoods are coexisting and have begun organizing a Marco Polo Day and an East-Meets-West Christmas parade.

What do you think of Little Italy becoming less Italian?