Most immigrants who set foot in New York City at the Battery in lower Manhattan just kept walking about thirty blocks uptown until they got to Mulberry Street, where thousands of other Italian immigrants had already settled in overcrowded slums. At the extreme rear of the photograph the street curves back into the notorious Mulberry Bend, where strangers entered at their own peril.
One block of tenements in Mulberry Bend might house 1,200 or more immigrants.
During peak periods of immigration there were more people living in that small area than in any city outside of Asia.
*credit* Italian Americans The Immigrant Experience by Morreale and Carola.
The book is filled with great historical pictures. We've come across Mulberry Street numerous times in our research, but never did I think it would look like that. The book gives an outline of history in Italy, immigration and our ancestors arrival and struggle for a better life here in the US.
It speaks volumes to the bravery of our ancestors........
When I was a little girl, back in the 30's-40's, our family went to the Mulberry feasts every year. The pictures are great, but what you don't get from them are the sounds and smells of the 'old country'. With every step you took there was the sound of a different italian language or dialect, and the smell of wonderful old world foods you could taste in your sleep. Long into the night you could listen to the music. These feasts were a joy of my father's life. By the end of the day we had seen cousins from Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, the Bronx, Christian St in Philadelphia, Bushwick Ave., Red Hook, Columbia St. - too many places to mention. It's probably why I remember the names of Mannino, Randazzo, Passalacqua, Gambino, Russo, Lo Chirco, Conigliaro, Amato, Cottone, Cataldo, Buffa, Marchiano - there's no end. The first time I watched 'Godfather II' I cried. Not for the violence in the movie but for the so familiar procession of the feast that was recreated so well I could hear the sounds I heard then, see those faces of long ago in my mind.
Not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but I have my grandparents Italian/English dictionary..not sure how they got it or who gave it to them but the inside cover is inscribed with the name "Mulberry St." Maybe it was given to him when he came here....
My great grandfather lived with his family on Mulberry St. and he and his sister remembered seeing murders as they slept on the fire escapes during the summer. He even saw a baby thrown down the stairs and a father shot, he knew who did it and never said the names to anyone even 70 years after the fact. At the age of 86 the names never left his mouth, and he took it to his grave. He told them "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing." The whole building was robbed several weeks after except for my great grandpa's apartment.