Communities in New York - Community Week


By Nicole Stinson

New York has attracted millions of people from all over the world from visiting tourists to people seeking to start their new life. Historically, the city has been known for its diversity and large ethnic communities; so with camera in hand, I took to the streets to source out what remains of these communities.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When exiting the Nassau Ave subway station you are surrounded by Polish businesses from hairdressers, doctor’s offices, grocers, restaurants and bakeries. The Polish seem to love their bakeries as I counted at least four within a five minute walk of the station.

The quaint Old Poland Bakery on Manhattan Avenue features Polish pastries and cakes. While serving me a delicious Polish chocolate éclair, Ania tells of how she moved to Greenpoint from Poland a year ago. She has a sister who has been living in neighborhood for five years.

“There are less Polish living in Greenpoint than before as it has become too expensive. Most have moved to Ridgewood in Queens,” she tells BTR.

The Café Rochelle also located on Manhattan Avenue features Polish paczki, a fried donut usually filled with jelly as well as sernik, a popular Polish cheesecake and chrust, a pastry.

Brighton Beach
With over 700,000 Russians living in New York City, walking around Brighton Beach feels like little Russia. When walking the streets barely a spoken word of English is heard and the street are lined with Russian businesses, notably the Brighton Bazaar. Although, I was not allowed to take photographs inside this large supermarket features imported Russian goods from chocolates, cheeses, snacks and freshly baked Russian cakes.

Bay Ridge
Originally home to a large Irish community, Bay Ridge is known as “Little Ireland”. However, wandering the streets reveals just how much this community has changed. The streets that were once lined Irish shops now feature Polish, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

The neighborhood’s prevailing Irish history is evident through its popular Irish pubs like The Wicked Monk, The Kitty Kieranans, and The Harp as well as the flags that patriotically flown around the streets. Even some of the architecture will have you believing that you crossed the North Atlantic with gabled roofs and Tudor style houses

Kew Gardens
Not as visually evident as other communities in New York City, Kew Gardens still houses one of the larger Jewish populations according to a report by The New York Times. There are two synagogues located in the area as well as four Jewish schools.

Borough Park in Brooklyn is also known for its kosher restaurants and synagogues with 78 percent of households self-identifying as Orthodox Jews.

An old Greek community, Tommy who works at Mediterranean Foods on 34th Street says that his parents migrated from Greece to Astoria along with many others before having children.

“The Greek community is fairly large and spread within a 30-mile radius of 30th Avenue,” he tells BTR. “We also get a lot of Greek customers visiting the store, as we have a lot of food imported from Greece and the Mediterranean area.”

Although he says that the Greek population has been decreasing in the area over the years, when walking the streets, Greek restaurants and businesses from grocers to butchers still dominate the scene.

According to the 2010 census, over 50 percent of the population self-identified as Chinese and 70 percent identified themselves as of Asian race. The streets of Flushing, also known as New York’s second Chinatown, are flooded with Chinese businesses and the smells of authentic cuisine.

There is also a newly emerging Korean community in Flushing with the Korean Community Services and Senior Center located in the area. According to the census, 6 percent of the population identify as being Korean making it the second highest after the Chinese.

All photos by Nicole Stinson.