Getting accustomed to a new climate

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MarcuccioV
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Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by MarcuccioV »

I've always wondered how immigrants from Italy responded to very different climates to those they often left.

Especially central/southern Italians who relocated to the NE & Midwest US, Canada, UK, or Northern Europe/Scandinavia.

I would think those that went to S America faired easier as it's closer to a Mediterranean climate.

Also those that went to the southern hemisphere had to deal with the reversal of seasons.

In my grandparent's case, they went from a town near Rome (where snow was a rare anomaly) to Detroit where snow was common (and often heavy) throughout the winter.

The fact that they moved immediately to Southern California upon his retirement gives me a clue...
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joetucciarone
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by joetucciarone »

I've been studying Italian immigration to the U.S., specifically in the fall-winter of 1872-1873 when several thousand of them arrived in New York City. Their situation was so desperate that George P. Marsh, the U.S. ambassador in Italy, notified the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Visconti Venosta. Among other things, Marsh said the Italian immigrants arrived "without an abundant supply of warm clothing" and were "exposed to great suffering from the rigors of a climate to which they are unaccustomed." Those who stayed in the Northeast U.S. adapted, but they obviously left Italy knowing nothing about the climate here!
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MarcuccioV
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by MarcuccioV »

It DOES surprise me that more Italian immigrants didn't settle further south, but perhaps employment was the issue. We had neighbors from Bari that immigrated straight from Italy to Southern California. That made sense, at least from a climatological standpoint...
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darkerhorse
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by darkerhorse »

I think the first Italian immigrants probably settled in the Northeast because of that's where the major ports of arrival from Europe were located, and there were employment opportunities.

Subsequent immigrants from their extended families (and other townsmen) joined them. I suspect climate was a secondary factor, if at all, easily trumped by the support and familiarity of friends and relatives from Italy who had already settled in the area.

An extreme example is where such a large flow of immigration occurred from a particular town or region in Italy to that the new place in America that it became a kind of sister city. In my family's case there are so many residents who have ancestry from the same town that they even built a replica of their church.

Of course, some in later generations have eventually moved to other climates, but the core has remained here over time.
darkerhorse
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by darkerhorse »

It must have been similar with immigrants from Asia to the West Coast, like San Francisco etc. Unless you have connections elsewhere, it's just natural to settle nearby where you arrived regardless of how well the climate matches home.

You can see that some Italian immigrants who entered at Ellis Island headed straight for other places, like Chicago or Buffalo, where the weather is arguable worse, but they had relatives to join.
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by darkerhorse »

It would be interesting to see data on the internal migration of Italians to warmer climates. I suspect it didn't pick up until second generation Italian-Americans.

I also wonder if the historical flow of Italian immigrants to Louisiana had anything to do with their warmer climate.

It would be interesting to compare those entering in NYC versus those entering in New Orleans.

I think, before 1880, Italians immigrated to South America more often than to North America. So, maybe climate was a factor, as well as cultural similarity and employment opportunities.
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MarcuccioV
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by MarcuccioV »

My best friend's grandmother (Sicilian) came through New Orleans but ended up in Chicago. There is a large Italian population in Louisiana so many apparently stayed. The "familiarity" aspect is of course a strong reason to root where others like you (or where you're from) have settled. My grandparent's neighborhood in Detroit apparently was not only almost exclusively Italian, but had quite a few transplants from their town and neighboring areas in Italy.

As far as second generation, my mother & her brother made tracks for California as soon as it was feasible. My grandparents followed a few years later...
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MarcuccioV
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Re: Getting accustomed to a new climate

Post by MarcuccioV »

An addendum to above: A few of their Detroit neighbors made their way to the west coast eventually as well, once their "neighborhood" began to evolve...
Mark

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