The Impact Of Italy And ItalianAmericans On

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The Impact Of Italy And Italian-Americans On The United States Essay, Research Paper The Impact of Italy and Italian-Americans on the United States In January of 1999, I embarked on a quest to become more familiar with the Italian-American community and its rich heritage. As an aspiring Urban Planner, it is central to my goals to learn more about the many cultures that make up the wonderful mosaic that is New York City. To facilitate this journey, I enrolled in Italian-American Studies 304 at Lehman under the tutelage of Professor Anthony LaRuffa. Professor LaRuffa provided us with the academic foundation necessary to capture the full essence of this vibrant and interesting community. The principal source of information we referred to was the ethnographic study written by

Professor LaRuffa entitled Monte Carmelo: An Italian-American Community in the Bronx. This book captures the heart of the Italian-American community of Monte Carmelo and dispels the misconceptions that have long been ascribed to people of Italian descent. This paper will seek to provide a topical analysis of Monte Carmelo and the selected readings from the Journal of Ethnic Groups. Particular emphasis will be place to note the impact of Italy and Italian Americans on the United States. During a recent visit to Monte Carmelo, I can recall that the streets were decorated with streamers of red, white, and green; the smell of sausage and peppers in the air; the friendly atmosphere. All of which contribute to the festivals performed each and every year in Monte Carmelo. On one of its

most visible occasions, the Italian culture comes to center stage. Everyone enjoys themselves regardless of their heritage. And all are welcome, the revered generosity and hospitality associated with Italian culture as vibrant as always. It is at these times that everyone experiences and acknowledges all that Italian culture has contributed to the uniquely American culture. But what the average festivalgoer does not see is that this culture and joyous attitude is present most of the time inside Italian families. History: Even though America was discovered by an Italian (Christopher Columbus), name for an Italian (Amerigo Vespucci) and explored by such Italian adventurers as Giovanni Verrazzano and John Cabot (born Giovanni Caboto), it wasn t until the late 19th century that

Italians began to emigrate in substantial numbers. Between 1880 and 1920, four million immigrants sailed to the United States from Italy. They came principally from the southern provinces, the heel and toe of the Italian boot. These areas had fallen behind the industrial region of northern Italy where agriculture had been modernized. Unification of the country raised hopes of bringing progress in the South, but that hope was never filled. In addition to the economic and political factors mentioned above, there were other contributory reasons which moved millions of people to leave their homelands to seek out new life in the United States. Natural calamities and diseases may have influenced one s decision. Malaria and Cholera were two diseases which enervated many of the people.

La miseria was further exacerbated by the periodic earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tidal waves which killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed entire communities. Many of the Italian-Americans came to the United States in the early 1900 s. As they saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, they were invigorated by the prospect of success. Some intended to spend only a few months in America, earn as much money as they could, and the return home. Half did return home. After being processed at Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay and other immigration centers, many of these rural Italians found themselves in urban ghettos like Manhattan s Lower Eat Side, working at menial jobs and crammed into narrow railroad flats that lacked both heat and privacy. Others were westward