It’s no secret that Little Italy has steadily become less Italian since the 1960s, but who ever thought it would come to this? According to a piece in today’s Times:
A census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in the same two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.
And, incredibly, the census could not find a single resident who had been born in Italy.
Like the Norwegians in Brooklyn, Manhattan’s Italians have been replaced by Asians, who have usurped Little Italy and made it a part of Chinatown. The National Park Service created the “Chinatown and Little Italy Hisotirc District” last year, but didn’t distinguish between the two communities. This year, the City Planning Commission plans to create a “Chinatown Business Improvement District,” which will engulf almost all of what was once Little Italy. While Italian restaurants still abound on Mulberry Street, the Times reports, but they are surrounded by Chinese language signage, including posters for the Lunar New Year. (Imagine what the Pope would think!)
But the ultimate proof? “Last month, more than 100 reputed members of mob families were charged with federal crimes,” the Times reports. “None lived in Little Italy.” Mamma mia.