Interviews

MANHATTAN’S LITTLE SYRIA

Little known today, starting in the 1880s until the 1940s, a thriving Levantine neighborhood called the “Syrian Quarter”, “Mother Colony” or “Little Syria” existed in downtown Manhattan. People from all over the Western Asian part of the Ottoman Empire made New York City their home. Textile and food businesses thrived. New York City, together with Cairo and Beirut, was an international center of Arabic language publishing. Renowned writers, poets, journalists, and artists such as Khalil Gibran and Ameen Rihani emerged from this community. The feminist Afifa Karam published her popular Arabic writings in Little Syria. In a cosmopolitan New York, they found innovative ways of making sense of their Eastern and Western, Middle Eastern and American identities. Following the displacement of Little Syria’s inhabitants due to the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which began in 1940, many relocated to Brooklyn. Today, only three buildings remain of Little Syria on Washington Street, two of which are threatened with destruction.

The Middle East Film Initiative interviewed former residents of Manhattan’s LIttle Syria. Below you will find their testimonials on the following subjects:

  • Introduction
  • Identity
  • Leaving Syria
  • Origins
  • Language and Ethnicity
  • Education
  • Marriage
  • Work
  • Apartment
  • Streetlife
  • Economic situation
  • Religion
  • World War II
  • Music and Dance
  • Food and Hospitality
  • Leisure
  • Vacations
  • Shopping
  • Clothing
  • Dreams
  • Next Generations

© 2017 The Middle East Film Initiative

INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

 

IDENTITY

 

 

 

 

LEAVING SYRIA

 

 

 

 

ORIGINS

LANGUAGE and ETHNICITY

EDUCATION

MARRIAGE

WORK

APARTMENT

STREETLIFE

ECONOMIC SITUATION

RELIGION

WORLD WAR II

MUSIC and DANCE

FOOD and HOSPITALITY

LEISURE

VACATIONS

SHOPPING

CLOTHING

DREAMS

 

 

NEXT GENERATIONS