White Supremacy and Multiculturalism (1608-1775)
This episode explores the foundations of multiculturalism and white supremacy in New Amsterdam-later New York City-from the arrival of Henry Hudson in 1609 to the eve of the America Revolution. It traces the city’s development as it leaned on the slave trade and a process of native removal to expand and grow. It also highlights the Dutch influence on the City that allowed for development without the stunting impact of religious intolerance found in the rest of British North America.
Expansion Necessitates Immigrants (1775-1825)
The need to build the nation and rebuild NYC after the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) necessitates immigration to New York City. Episode 2 documents how, between the end of the 18th Century and the start of the 19th Century, NYC is increasingly becoming the most important city in the U.S., further amplifying the need for immigrant labor. A 1776 fire burned 1/4 of the city to the ground as Rebel troops fled the British at the start of the Revolutionary War. From the ashes of the conflict NYC would be reborn, becoming the nation’s second capital at the end of the 18th century. With infrastructure projects like the grid plan and the Eire Canal being undertaken in the first half of the 19th century, and Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge in the second half of the century, the city need workers to continue its seemingly exponential growth.
Becoming Irish-American (1790-1880)
This episode exposes viewers to the waves of Irish immigration to NYC before focusing on how the Irish were able to overcome anti-immigrant sentiment to consolidate political and economic influence in the city. It begins with the early, more privileged Irish immigrants-Often Protestants-who arrived in the 17th and 18th century. In many cases Irish were indentured servants as they dotted the fabric of New York society. The explosion of Irish immigration took place in the middle of the 19th century with conditions deteriorating in Ireland due to famine and English oppression. After an arduous journey to the US this group of immigrants found extreme discrimination, harsh living conditions and few economic opportunities creating conditions for tensions with the African-American community. Soon, however, the Irish began to get into NYC politics, benefiting from US immigration laws that privileged white immigrants. Assimilation came with city jobs as the Irish became a dominant force in the City’s Democratic Party through the infamous Tammany Hall.
Becoming Chinese-American (1836-2020)
This episode begins by exploring the reason why Chinese immigrants sought to leave China and come to the United States. It then documents Chinese perseverance overcoming the obstacles of structural racism to form a flourishing community in New York City. Taking viewers on a journey from China to California and then to New York this story is one of tragedy, perseverance and extreme intolerance by US citizens and authorities. Initially arriving to work in the gold mines of California, Chinese men faced harsh conditions and were often brutalized because white miners viewed them as competition. As the mines dried up a shift in the community to the railroad and as laundrymen became quite common. Chinese women were largely restricted from entry to prevent the development of Chinese families in the U.S., however many were smuggled into the U.S. and forced to become sex workers. With extreme intolerance on the West Coast a large number of Chinese immigrants arrived in New York City looking to build a life for themselves and their community. They did so, but internal conflict brought on by lack of opportunity provided to them by US authorities brought great pain to the community. Still the Chinese enclave in New York City and elsewhere throughout the United States overcame racist immigration laws and flourished, continuing to grow stronger to this day.
Becoming Italian-American (1880-1945)
This episode details the emergence of the Italian-American community in NYC. After exploring the motivations for leaving Italy, largely economic and political desperation, this episode dives into the xenophobia faced by Southern Italians arriving in the U.S. between 1880 and 1924. It traces how the Italian immigration pattern was unique due to the fact that many of these immigrants would frequently return home to Italy, where they hoped to one day remain permanently. It shows the ways Italians helped develop the infrastructure of New York City, overcoming anti-Italian sentiment from protestant and even earlier arriving Irish Catholics. Finally, the episode illuminates the ways Italian-Americans organized to change the structures that oppressed them before they were eventually accepted by mainstream U.S. society.
Becoming Jewish-American (1880-1945)
This episode reveals the development of the Jewish-American community in New York City from the colonial period to the present day. Focusing on the largest wave of Jewish immigrants that arrived between 1880 and 1924, this episode explores the reasons they came to the United States, the ways in which Jews assimilated into the United States and how they overcame the obstacles they faced as immigrant Jews. The episode begins in the Colonial period illuminating the formation of a fairly significant, largely sephardic, Jewish Community in New York City. It then traces the journey of German Jews who arrived in substantial numbers in the middle of the 19th century and spread out throughout the country.
Becoming Cuban-American (1804-1980)
This episode recounts the two century long history of exchange between Cuba and New York City. It dives deeply into Cuban history to explain why the relationship between the island and NYC developed and how political circumstance on the island, and policy decisions in Washington were continuous evolving the commitments and character of the Cuban immigrant community. Beginning in the 1800s exchange between the island and NYC grew strong due to the sugar trade. That laid the foundation for a Cuban community in exile to develop as Cubans, eventually led by José Marti organized against the Spanish crown in the second half of the 19th century. With the United States exerting great influence over the island after the Spanish-American War the Cuban community in NYC and the surrounding area continued to grow. While the revolution shifted the center of the Cuban-American community to South Florida, a vibrant and lasting imprint on New York society has been left by Cubans who made NYC their home in the past 200 years. This episode explores the intimate history Puerto Rico and the mainland US that led to a significant community of Puerto Ricans developing in NYC. Beginning during the Spanish Colonial period this video traces the revolutionary organizing of Puerto Ricans in exile in 19th Century New York City. Yet the episode is centered in after the Spanish-American War when governance over the island was transferred to U.S. authorities. It examines the evolving status of the population. Initially, Puerto Ricans were deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court non-Citizen subjects, denied both autonomy and equal status. During World War I, in an effort to swell U.S. military ranks, Puerto Ricans were made citizens so that they could be drafted. After World War II the New York government encouraged migration to NYC so that the city’s factories could exploit cheap Puerto Rican labor. An powerful Puerto Rican community developed in the city and vied for political influence through radical organizing during the height of the Civil Rights movement.
Becoming Puerto Rican-American (1898-2010)
This episode explores the intimate history Puerto Rico and the mainland US that led to a significant community of Puerto Ricans developing in NYC. Beginning during the Spanish Colonial period this video traces the revolutionary organizing of Puerto Ricans in exile in 19th Century New York City. Yet the episode is centered in after the Spanish-American War when governance over the island was transferred to U.S. authorities. It examines the evolving status of the population. Initially, Puerto Ricans were deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court non-Citizen subjects, denied both autonomy and equal status. During World War I, in an effort to swell U.S. military ranks, Puerto Ricans were made citizens so that they could be drafted. After World War II the New York government encouraged migration to NYC so that the city’s factories could exploit cheap Puerto Rican labor. An powerful Puerto Rican community developed in the city and vied for political influence through radical organizing during the height of the Civil Rights movement.