Little Italy communities helped early immigrants adjust to new lives

Nov 10, 2020 303

BY: Rita Cipalla

The great wave of Italian immigration, which began in the 1880s and lasted until 1920, brought more than four million Italians to America. About 75 percent of them settled in cities on the East Coast, including lower Manhattan, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. After moving in with family or friends first, a small contingent worked their way west, tempted by images of wide open lands, looking for a better life. 

These early Italians arrived in the Northwest physically exhausted and culturally overwhelmed. Many were unskilled, illiterate or unable to speak the language. They took whatever jobs they could find – from digging ditches and pouring cement, to mining coal and laying railroad track. 

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