From Ellis Island to JFK: New York`s Two Great Waves of by Nancy Foner

By Nancy Foner

Nice waves of immigration--one firstly of the 20th century and one other in its ultimate decades--transformed the historical past and character of recent York urban. This booklet is the 1st in-depth comparability of latest York's immigration eras. Nancy Foner reassesses the myths that encompass either units of immigrants and explores issues starting from gender roles to racial attitudes to the function of schooling in assimilation. Copublished with the Russell Sage beginning

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A century ago, Jewish and Italian immigrants had to undergo a grueling ocean voyage as well as long, sometimes dangerous trips to their port of departure. For many Jews and Italians of that time, getting to the port was an ordeal involving travel by train or wagon, or even stretches on foot. For Jews there were legal difficulties as well. Russian Jews often traveled west through Austria-Hungary to German ports. 102 Mary Antin recalled that without the help of two kindly German Jews, the local authorities would have sent her family back to Russia for want of two hundred rubles.

And they help the newcomers get jobs. 96 Steamship lines no longer channel immigration into New York, yet the presence of large numbers of friends and relatives continues to attract immigrants to the city and the surrounding region. Once an immigrant community develops, it tends to expand as compatriots are on hand to offer newcomers a sense of security and the prospect of assistance. ’’ Moving to New York, as one Jamaican woman said, ‘‘became the thing to do. ’’ 97 New York is also appealing because newcomers do not stand out; it has a tradition of immigration, with many different immigrant and racial groups evident in daily life.

It’s difficult to look at two groups of people—and compare how they lived—when the living conditions and experiences of all New Yorkers have changed so dramatically over the past hundred years. When Riis was writing in the s, horse-drawn railway cars were still a common sight on New York’s streets, over half the city’s population lived in tenements, and hot running water and steam heat were luxuries beyond the reach of the immigrant, and native-born, poor. Manhattan was the population center of the city.

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