The Empire State Building and the buildings of historic Little Italy. New York City.
One of my favorite views of the Empire State Building is from a vantage point in lower Manhattan. My breath is momentarily taken away every time I come across the Empire State Building’s spire jutting out in the distance framed by the Little Italy’s architecture.
Little Italy is a small area in downtown Manhattan. Currently inhabiting a tiny section of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets the area recalls a rich history of immigration. Many late 19th century and early 20th century tenements still line the streets and what is left of the area emanates a tremendous amount of history.
Immigrants from Italy first settled in the neighborhood called Five Points in the 1850s, finally spreading north into what is now referred to as Little Italy in the 1880s. The Five Points neighborhood was New York’s original and most notorious slum. Located a few blocks below Canal at Baxter Street the neighborhood teemed with gangs, prostitutes, and criminals. A target for reformers of all stripes and an embarrassment to civic planners, the dark and airless tenements of the Five Points were finally demolished in an early urban renewal effort and in their place rose newer buildings which still stand today (and can be seen in this photo). Little Italy has lately been colonized by Chinatown in its southern parts and its northern reaches now host upscale boutiques, bars and restaurants. The remnants of the original Little Italy can be found around Mulberry Street and Mott Street.
Some interesting film trivia: key scenes from The Godfather were filmed in Little Italy. These include the christening scene, in which Coppola’s family members acted as extras, and the set representing the interior of the Genco Olive Oil company, which was built on the fourth floor of an old loft building at 128 Mott Street, at the corner of Hester Street.
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