Inventing Little Italy

Donna Gabaccia (University of Minnesota)

Most settlements of Italians around the world were not called “Little Italy.” The phrase seems to have been invented in the United States. This paper focuses on New York in the 1880s, examining the social and urban landscape where the term “Little Italy” was invented. Associated from its earliest days with urban tourism and the search for novelty in the form of “safe danger,” “Little Italy” came to be applied to Italian settlements in many other parts of the country and in other countries as well.