This book is an autobiographical study of Italian Americans in East Harlem, New York in the twentieth century. It emphasizes the Sicilian experience in upper Manhattan.
Italian East Harlem had a brief existence much like boom and bust towns of the Old West. When residents of Italian East Harlem became successful financially, they left the community. Italian East Harlem suffered from a “brain drain” throughout its short history in contrast to Black Harlem, a more stable community. It was challenging for children especially to be growing up in a dying community, one in which families were eager to leave rather than to enter. Ironically, as a child I had the opportunity to leave East Harlem but elected to stay. I am a Sicilian American historian. I tell the story of my Sicilian people and their culture in upper Manhattan as a personal experience. I integrate their story with the stories of other groups and individuals living in East Harlem when it was called Italian East Harlem. Brooklyn and Rochester, New York are a part of my story and they are represented in this book.