New York City is Puerto Rican
New York City’s Latin community has been mostly Puerto Rican since the “Great Migration” of the 1950s.
Contemporary Latin music is based on Afro-Cuban music popularized in New York City’s Puerto Rican communities before going global as Salsa in the 1970s. Latin Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Reggaeton have Puerto Rican roots.Tito Puente is still the world’s most famous Latin musician.
Puerto Rican New York City’s big celebration is the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in June. Puerto Rican Christmas is a unique month-long celebration ending with Three Kings Day.
Salsa dancing New York style (On 2) is a mix of Cuban Salsa and Hustle (Disco) popularized by Puerto Rican New Yorker Eddie Torres.
The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Pregones Theater, and Teatro SEA are Puerto Rican Off-Broadway theaters. The Broadway musical and film West Side Story was about NYC’s Puerto Rican community. Hamilton, the most influential Broadway show of our generation, was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), the son of Puerto Rican New Yorkers.
El Museo del Barrio art museum and the Caribbean Cultural Center have a Puerto Rican focus.
Lehman College, Hostos Community College and Boricua College support New York Puerto Rican students.
The Nuyorican Poets Cafe is a literary cultural center.
Goya Foods is the biggest Hispanic food company in the United States. Sazon is New York City’s best Puerto Rican restaurant.
Famous Puerto Rican musicians include Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri, Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Louie Vega, La India, and Bobby Sanabria.
Famous Puerto Rican actors include Rita Moreno, Chita Rivera, Miriam Colón, Rosie Perez, and Rosario Dawson.
Puerto Rican New Yorkers in government include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Congress members José E. Serrano and Nydia Velázquez, and New York City Council member Rosie Méndez.
The Way Forward
Of all the Latin communities, we have made the most progress in entering the news business and politics, although New York City’s demographics are changing. Today we are NYC’s second biggest Latin community after Dominicans and in a few years we will be third after Mexicans.
The only way for our communities to progress is to become more deeply engaged in the fabric of American society. It is up to us to get an education and enter business and American civic life. Let’s become police, firepeople, politicians and educators.
This is the way forward. In the United States, and especially New York City, anything is possible, but nothing is free. It’s on us to move forward.
Thanks to the Black, Jewish, Irish, Italian and other communities who came before us, we can now contribute to the American fabric without giving up our culture. In fact, our culture is one of the most beautiful things we have. New York Latin Culture is essentially Puerto Rican. Que Rico!