Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on interviews as well as family and archival photographs,
"As he lovingly did in his book on Boston's North End in Portrait of an Italian American Neighborhood, Riccio narrates the history of New Haven through the stories and photos of the Italian-Americans who lived in and helped build the city. Be it the Annex, Wooster Square or Legion Avenue, Italians had lived and worked there since the first wave of immigration in the late 19th century. Riccio divides the story into chapters that encapsulate moments in history: 'The Journey to America: Life on the Ships,' 'A New Life in New Haven,' 'The Depression in New Haven,' 'Highways and Urban Renewal: New Haven Changed Forever.' The oral test to get citizenship in the U.S. was a terrifying ordeal, as many of these stories attest, and in one, a gentleman sweating profusely, is asked by the judge, 'What flies above the court house?' The judge expects the answer to be 'the American flag,' but the nervous gentleman aptly replies, 'pigeons.' Even among Italians, there was a division between northerners and southerners (a large portion of whom hailed from Campania), with the minority of northerners looking down on the majority who came from the mezzogiorno. These are not always your stereotypical portraits of big happy Italian families, but instead, stories of the struggles Italian-Americans endured and in several ways their stories are the stories of so many of those who immigrated to this country. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Using interviews and photographs, Anthony Riccio provides a vital supplement to our understanding of the Italian immigrant experience in the United States. In conversations around kitchen tables and in social clubs, members of New Haven s Italian American community evoke the rhythms of the streets and the pulse of life in the old ethnic neighborhoods. They describe the events that shaped the twentieth century the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and World War II along with the private histories of immigrant women who toiled under terrible working conditions in New Haven s shirt factories, who sacrificed dreams of education and careers for the economic well-being of their families. This is a compelling social, cultural, and political history of a vibrant immigrant community."