There is a lot more to it, but this is what most people mean when they say “New York City” or “The City”


It’s become the New York City borough of “cool”


Over 200 languages are spoken in the most diverse place on earth

The Bronx

The home of salsa, hip-hop and the Yankees

Staten Island

The quiet borough has a maritime past and a large Italian community

New York City. Manhattan surrounded by The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey (Tom Jaksztat/Dreamstime)

New York City. Manhattan surrounded by The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey (Tom Jaksztat/Dreamstime)

New York City has Latin DNA

Latin is various mixes of Indigenous, European and African.

Indigenous New York City

The Indigenous Lenape “Indian” village was in what is now Inwood. Naturally, it is still the most beautiful spot in Manhattan.

New York Bay was discovered for the Europeans in 1524 by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano working for King Francis I of France.

New York City’s First Immigrant was Dominican

The first immigrant in our city of immigrants was Juan Rodríguez, a sailor who arrived in 1613 from Santo Domingo in what is now the Dominican Republic.

He set up his house on the Lenape trading site at the southern tip of Manhattan. The spot later became the U.S. Customs House. It is now the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

New Netherland

The colony of New Netherland was founded in 1614 by the Dutch West India Company chartered by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

This was during the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) which was the Dutch War of Independence from Spain. From 1598 to 1621, the Spanish Netherlands were ruled from Brussels, Belgium by Albert VII and the Spanish-born Queen Isabella Clara Eugenia.

So New York City’s Dutch founders were not Spanish, but the Dutch Golden Age, when New Amsterdam was founded, came about in a direct response to freedom from Spanish kings and Catholic popes.

The Dutch did something really important. They founded the idea of the corporation. The strength of Latin culture is the family, and its weakness is the patriarchy. Instead of giving the king and the pope all the fruits of their labor, the Dutch decided that people could work together on a project and share the fruits of their labor. That’s the corporation and it is a fundamental concept of New York City and democracy itself.

It’s important because across the Latin world and even in the United States now, we are deviled by strong man rule.

Jewish New York City

The first Jewish settlers were Sephardic (Spanish & Portuguese). They arrived in 1654, fleeing the Inquisition which had followed them to Portuguese Brazil.

New Netherlands Director General Peter Stuyvesant requested permission from the Dutch West India Company to expel the Sephardi.

In their wisdom, the directors wrote back,

“The consciences of men ought to be free and unshackled, so long as they continue moderate, peaceable, inoffensive and not hostile to government. Such have been the maxims of … toleration by which … this city has been governed; and the result has been, that the oppressed and persecuted from every country have found among us an asylum from distress. Follow in the same steps and you shall be blessed.”

From “New York” by Ric Burns and James Sanders with Lisa Ades

Ever since all the peoples of the world have been welcomed in New York City as long as they are willing to work and to be governed. The directors were correct. We have been blessed.

What should that teach us today?

African New York City

New York City was built by slaves.

This story begins with the horror of enslavement, but ends with the cultural domination of the United States.

The Dutch West India Company began slaving in New York in 1626. Ironically the first work the Africans did was build the wall on Wall St. to keep out the Lenape. Why are slavers always building walls?

The first slave auction, on Wall St of course, was in 1655. The slave market was at 74 Wall St (at Pearl St). It’s a condominium building now.

Slavery ended legally in New York in 1827, although children born to slave mothers were indentured until the 20s. During this time, most Africans were brought to New York City from Cuba.

Today most Latin culture and American pop culture has African roots.

Irish New York City

Irish brought the Catholic religion in numbers. There were waves of Irish immigration in the 1820s and after Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845.

Irish suffered terrible discrimination. We moved up by working as police. NYPD is still very Irish. This offers a model for the integration of other immigrant groups. Join the NYPD or the FDNY.

The Statue of Liberty is French

The icon of New York City, the Statue of Liberty, is French. Its frame was built by Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower. The statue was dedicated in 1886.

Italian New York City

Italians are one of the immigrant groups that helped define the City. The biggest wave of Italian immigration was from 1900 to 1910.

Back in the day rich Italians migrated to Argentina and poor ones to New York. Who do think got the better?

Hispanic/Luso New York City

The New York – Cuba connection was the sugar trade. This was when Cuba was New Spain. Little Spain used to be on 14th St.

The Cuban presence diminished after the Spanish-American War of 1898 which ended the Spanish Empire in the Americas and began the American Empire with the acquisition of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.

The Puerto Rican Great Migration of the 1950s came about when governor Muñoz pushed farmers off the land in a modernization drive. There were not enough jobs in Puerto Rico, but plenty of jobs in New York. U.S. citizenship and the arrival of air travel made it easy to come to New York City.

Cubans brought their music. Puerto Ricans made salsa from it and the world loved it.

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer co-designed the United Nations with French architect Corbusier.

Black and Latin kids in the Bronx created hip-hop, the pop music of our time.

Hamilton, the most influential Broadway show in a generation, was written by the son of Puerto Rican New Yorkers.

Today Latin New York is mostly Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Colombian. Immigration is mostly coming from South America.

A City of Immigrants

New York City is one of the few places in the world where you can completely reinvent yourself. There are millionaires here who came with nothing twenty years ago and still don’t speak English. We are truly a city of immigrants, and that’s what makes us great.

I’m writing this from Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Living in Puerto Rico, I realized how different Puerto Ricans in the island are from Puerto Ricans in New York City. The same is probably true no matter where you are from.

Old New Yorkers will say you are this or that, but it’s not true. Once you come to New York, you are a New Yorker. You have to walk faster, talk faster, think faster and work faster than you did wherever you came from.

We are grateful for the opportunity that New York City provides to build a better life for our children. We are proud of our contributions to this great City and this great country.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs says, “Where you were born does not matter—when you’re here, you’re a New Yorker.”

The poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty says in part:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus (1883)

We’ll keep the light on for you.


NYC Jazz Clubs

New York City swings in jazz clubs from Harlem to Dizzy’s Club to the Village Vanguard