New Citizens of New York

in Puerto Rican Citizen

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780226796086
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226796109 | DOI:
New Citizens of New York

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This chapter describes the community organization and political culture of Puerto Rican migrants in New York City in the 1920s. The many hispano communities into which Puerto Rican migrants settled around 1920 comprised a heterogeneous world. Jesús Colón, a compatriot and later friend and ally of Bernardo Vega's, described the colonia of the twenties and thirties as a crazy quilt of racial, economic, and political identities: “In this pilgrimage in search of a better economic wellbeing, have arrived Puerto Ricans who are poor, middle class, white like some inhabitant of a Nordic forest, trigueños like good descendants of Chief Aguaybana, black like a shining citizen of old Ethiopia.” “And,” he added, “all of them carry with them a mind that surely doesn't think alike in terms of politics, prejudice, etc., which adorns the present social organization.” This diversity of minds flourished within a context of sharply drawn class distinctions in the colonia. By the time the post-World War I Puerto Rican migration began, some of the earlier migrants, who in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries settled first in Chelsea and in the Upper West Side, had opened shops and restaurants, doctors' offices and other businesses in the area of Harlem bounded approximately by Eighth Avenue to Lexington, and 110th Street to 120th.

Keywords: Puerto Ricans; immigrants; Hispanic communities; social organization; class distinctions; colonia; New York City

Chapter.  13820 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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