A shop in Little India in Jackson Heights, Queens. Image via NY Daily News
Chinatown and Little Italy are probably the first locations that come to mind when you think of New York City’s diversity and immigrant history. However, there were several other immigrant groups that migrated and clustered into various neighborhoods, forming smaller ethnic enclaves that also contribute to New York City’s identity as the “melting pot.”
Last year we published a series called NYC’s Micro Neighborhoods, which had more in-depth articles on specific ethnic communities. To provide you with a thorough guide to New York City’s diverse areas, for this list we combined neighborhoods mentioned in NYC’s Micro Neighborhoods with an additional 10 more to check out. Enjoy!
18. Little Dominican Republic in Washington Heights, Manhattan
Wall art representing the neighborhood’s diversity. Image via Repeating Islands
Although Washington Heights saw many Irish immigrants in the early 1900s and European Jews escaping the Nazi regime in the 20th century, the neighborhood then witnessed an influx of Dominicans after the 1960s.
Washington Heights shows its tradition proudly. Dominican Republic flags hang in apartment windows; Spanish is ubiquitous; and street stalls sell food and drink along major corridors up through neighboring Inwood. Spoken Spanish is only faded out by the ascending volume of Bachata, a Latin musical genre originating from the Dominican Republic. Here, you’ll observe families and friends congregating in the streets, dancing in the nearby parks. It is a neighborhood of families and neighbors whose culture resonates throughout.
Broadway serves as Washington Heights’ main commercial artery with a number of mom and pop specialty shops, Dominican cuisine locales, along with more recognized chain retailers. Among the numerous eateries, El Malecon proves to be a more popular presence in the neighborhood specializing in authentic Latin cooking. El Malecon features traditional Dominican dishes such as mangu or mashed green plantains, and sancocho, which is Dominican-style stew.
But like many neighborhoods, the Washington Heights and Inwood areas are feeling the pressure of rising real estate prices – particularly with its strong stock of pre-war apartment houses. Neighborhood participation has been high in community meetings, as the city moves forward with plans for a rezoning in Inwood.