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Thread: Little Italy- Special Districts

  1. #1
         
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    Little Italy- Special Districts

    Does designating an area of the city a special district like Little Italy actually spur development? Syracuse is the mist of a project creating a Little Italy on North Salina Street. New sidewalks, banners, lamp posts, etc. are the only real difference. North Salina street used to be all Italian, but now more Vietnamese and other immigrants are found there. There are a couple good Italian restaurants and an old church, but thats all the "Italian" stuff found there.

    A few pics




  2. #2
    Member octa girl's avatar
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    I don't know if designating a neighborhood a special district actual stimulates the economy - but given Syracuse’s current situation it can't hurt. I think this fellow Henry Moore from the ABC (asset based community) Development institute did some research on how naming neighborhoods helps people build pride and take ownership of their space.

    I did some research in Syracuse a long while back - it involved interviews of a select set of residents. I remember that residents from one particular neighborhood (can't remember the name - perhaps in the north east corner) were quick to identify the name of their neighborhood when you asked where they lived, while many others would simply repeat addresses. They felt a real connection to their neighborhood – was it because it had a name and identity in their mind?? I don’t know.

    so i say go ahead and give the neighborhoods some defining characteristic or name. but um, maybe ask the residents what they want/think that should be. If there are many Vietnamese as you say why not make it Vietnamese town? What process did Syracuse go through to decide on little italy?

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    How do you create a little Italy? You have a bunch of Italian immigrants set to move in or something?

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    Member octa girl's avatar
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    no this is a new urban design community development technique. Don't you remember epcot center had a little booth for every country - it is the same thing. you decorate the city to get people in the mood to come down spend money and open new businesses. instead of mistletoe there is dangling salami.

    or well, maybe . . . .

    it is a false start to build some momentum that makes people feel good about the place and then they will invest time, money, and interest into the place and actually make it interesting.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    that's funny, we have the Italian Market, which is in the Bella Vista neighborhood of South Philly. The neighborhood is still majority Italian, barely, and there are still a lot of italian specialty stores but as of late it's taken on much more of an international flair. So when people are going to the Italian Market to shop they're more likely to say:
    "i'm going to the Market to pick up some cheese"

    but when you ask them where they live they're likely to say:
    "Italian Market area"

    I've also noticed that when people are telling you where they're from it seems like it's the places with strong physical boundaries or landmarks that people use. These are also, interestingly, mostly the white neighborhoods.

    For instance most people in West Philly will tell you: "West Philly - 48th & Baltimore. Rarely will you hear someone say they live in "Cedar Park". Everybody has heard of it but the boundaries are vague.

    In contrast, someone from Tacony will tell you they're from Tacony not from "the Northeast" because everyone knows that Tacony is the neighborhood right next to the Tacony Bridge and that the train stops there.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    In Schenectady NY they are tyring the same thing:

    Schenectady's Little Italy

    My urban policy class had some interesting things to say about that. My old neighborhood in Albany was becoming a bit of a little Italy back in the 1970's (even had an old art deco theater that was showing films in italian...called the carasello i believe, now its a quaint 8 screen movie house via additions to the building) but it was the leadership of the community and business owners. Never really happened where it was called a little Italy, but I always considered it a nice italian neighborhood as a kid.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by octa girl
    I don't know if designating a neighborhood a special district actual stimulates the economy -
    It certainly stimulates the economy in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Leichhardt, particularly along Norton Street. Besides the resident Italians in the area, people come from all over to enjoy the 'Italian experience' i.e. the coffee, the food and the occasional Italian film festivals @ the local cineplex.

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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    I've also noticed that when people are telling you where they're from it seems like it's the places with strong physical boundaries or landmarks that people use. These are also, interestingly, mostly the white neighborhoods.

    For instance most people in West Philly will tell you: "West Philly - 48th & Baltimore. Rarely will you hear someone say they live in "Cedar Park". Everybody has heard of it but the boundaries are vague.
    jresta, that's a keen observation that I've noticed in Chicago, too. There are many mostly white neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, and they traditionally gone by, and retain, neighborhood names that are decriptive and denote a landmark of some sort -- Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Back of the Yards, Hyde Park, Beverly Hills and Morgan Park, for example. Many black neighborhoods, however, sort of lost their names and became part of an ambiguous "South Side". A few specific names remain (like Englewood, Chatham, Woodlawn and South Shore) but some like Park Manor, Jeffery Manor, Jackson Highlands, Brainerd and others would just draw a blank stare from someone who even lived there; although they're not near each other at all, they've just become "South Side".

    The City of Chicago has spent a lot of time, money and effort to designate similar special districts throughout the city. Most of them didn't materialize out of thin air; they already had some characteristic remaining that justified such a designation. Two come to mind -- the North Halsted Street district (often commonly called Boys Town), and Bronzeville (Chicago's equivalent to New York's Harlem). In both cases, the City has used decorative streetscaping and signage to designate the area, and encouraged the development of businesses and special events that target the core population of the district. So, North Halsted is the location of the annual Gay/Lesbian Pride Parade, eclectic boutiques and nice restaurants; Bronzeville is the site of the annual Bud Billiken Parade, Juneteenth events, and (still not enough) jazz and blues clubs. The City's Departments of Cultural Affairs and Planning together coordinated a lot of this.

    North Halsted has been more successful in terms of bringing in outside dollars than Bronzeville so far, for a whole host of reasons. But the intent from the beginning was to do just that, and both have done it.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Is it just me or does it seem like cities do everything they can to promote "Little Italy" identities, but don't do the same for any other ethnic group (with the exception of large Chinatowns)? Its like a proven marketing tool - no one knows how tourists will react to a Little Poland, or Little Vietnam.

    It also seems to built upon nostalgia more than actual ethnic identity. The Little Italys I'm familiar with are definitely not the most ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods - they're either half Hispanic or "Yuppie" but with Italian restaurants, many of which are not old-time businesses. People stay away from real ethnic enclaves no matter how many restaurants there are, because they are rougher around the edges and don't cater to tourists.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    Is it just me or does it seem like cities do everything they can to promote "Little Italy" identities, but don't do the same for any other ethnic group (with the exception of large Chinatowns)? Its like a proven marketing tool - no one knows how tourists will react to a Little Poland, or Little Vietnam.
    Little Poland or Little Vietnam might not do well in some cities because there was never a large Polish or Vietnamese presence to begin with. What's ironic is that in Chicago, our Little Italy area (the Taylor Street area) might be less visible and less successful than some of the others in the city.

    Chicago may be a little better at doing this than some other cities, because of its great diversity and long tradition of strong neighborhoods. We have a large Chinatown; as mentioned earlier, we have North Halsted and Bronzeville; we also have strong Mexican commercial districts in the Pilsen/Little Village area; we have an Indian/South Asian presence on Argyle Street; there's a Swedish feel in Andersonville; there's German feel in Lincoln Square. For long stretches of Milwaukee Avenue, you'll hear more Polish spoken than English.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    jresta, that's a keen observation that I've noticed in Chicago, too. There are many mostly white neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, and they traditionally gone by, and retain, neighborhood names that are decriptive and denote a landmark of some sort -- Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Back of the Yards, Hyde Park, Beverly Hills and Morgan Park, for example. Many black neighborhoods, however, sort of lost their names and became part of an ambiguous "South Side". A few specific names remain (like Englewood, Chatham, Woodlawn and South Shore) but some like Park Manor, Jeffery Manor, Jackson Highlands, Brainerd and others would just draw a blank stare from someone who even lived there; although they're not near each other at all, they've just become "South Side".
    Do you think it's because of these landmarks/boundaries that the people in the neighborhoods didn't flee to the suburbs with the rest of the white people? For a big city Philly's situation is unique, it's split 42% white and 42% black. The "white" neighborhoods are along the rivers and typically the dividing line is the El, the subway, railroad tracks, a major highway/freeway, or a large park.

    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    The City of Chicago has spent a lot of time, money and effort to designate similar special districts throughout the city. Most of them didn't materialize out of thin air; they already had some characteristic remaining that justified such a designation. Two come to mind -- the North Halsted Street district (often commonly called Boys Town), and Bronzeville

    North Halsted has been more successful in terms of bringing in outside dollars than Bronzeville so far, for a whole host of reasons. But the intent from the beginning was to do just that, and both have done it.
    Last May i was on N. Halsted during the International Man of Leather Competition. I was on my way to the Chicago Diner passing guys in leather chaps standing outside of clubs like "Buck" and "ManHole"

    We have a similar but smaller area in Philly. It takes up about half of the Washington Square West neighborhood and it's really funny to hear people tip-toe around the what the neighborhood is called. If, for instance, someone is talking about a party that they're going to or a friends house and they're trying to be vague and PC they'll say the name of the cross street "Spruce" or "Pine" or they'll say "Washington Square area." If they want you to know that their friend is gay and they're still trying to be PC they'll say "Wash. West" or "off 12th St."

    I'm more to the point and say "the Gayborhood". It's not meant or taken as an insult. People advertise it. http://www.phillypride.org/ofmap.html

    Older gay couples tend to move to Collingswood, NJ (it's a 14 minute subway ride from the heart of the Gayborhood) and i think Camden is about to take off soon. NJ offers much better legal protections than conservative PA. If they have money and want to stay in the city Queen Village (yeah, that name became popular in the late 70's so your guess is as good as mine) and Germantown seem to be pretty popular. West Mt. Airy is the place to be for lesbian couples. The younger lesbian set seems to choose West Philly - must be all those college girls.

    but yeah, looking at the demographic info for the city is striking - the Gayborhood is the only tract in the city with more men than than women.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    Little Poland or Little Vietnam might not do well in some cities because there was never a large Polish or Vietnamese presence to begin with. What's ironic is that in Chicago, our Little Italy area (the Taylor Street area) might be less visible and less successful than some of the others in the city.
    Just to clarify, I meant in cases where the neighborhood is ethnic. It seems like "Little Italys" are sometimes the default ethnic neighborhoods for tourists. Maybe we should blame other ethnic groups for having less yummy food.

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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    Do you think it's because of these landmarks/boundaries that the people in the neighborhoods didn't flee to the suburbs with the rest of the white people? For a big city Philly's situation is unique, it's split 42% white and 42% black. The "white" neighborhoods are along the rivers and typically the dividing line is the El, the subway, railroad tracks, a major highway/freeway, or a large park.
    Chicago's similar to Philly in that respect, with one important difference -- Hispanics are sort of the buffer population between black and white neighborhoods.

    If you were to take a wand, and, starting from the Loop and pointing directly north, you moved in a counterclockwise direction, the dominant demographic in each neighborhood would be: white on the north and northwest sides; Hispanic on the near northwest side; black on the west side; Hispanic again on the near southwest side; white again on the southwest side; black on the south side; Hispanic again on the southeast side; and a small pocket of a white enclave on the far southeast side. Major physical features also serve as boundaries, too.

    Chicago's race/ethnic mix in 2000 was 31% non-Hispanic white, 37% black and 26% Hispanic. I wouldn't doubt it if in 2010 it's more like 30-30-30.

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    Toronto has a whole bunch of these districts, and have been recently promoting them with signage and more and more festivals. The districts may be historic communities (Parkdale, Forest Hill, Cabbagetown, Corktown), Business Improvement Areas (Mount Denis, Bloor West Village), ethnic (2 Chinatowns each with their own distinct street signs in Chinese/English, Greektown with Greek/English signs, Koreatown, 2 Little Italies - the northern one like Milan "Corso Italia", the southern one like Rome/Naples "Little Italy" neat coincidence?, Rua Açores - a Portuguese community, the list goes on...), or by attraction (Fashion District, Entertainment Dist., Distillery Dist., the Beach, Harbourfront, Church and Wellesley "Gaybourhood", St. Lawrence Market). There are more neighbourhoods that often overlap these categories such as Roncesvalles Village AKA Little Poland or Mimico which was once a separate town whose downtown has become a BIA.
    Here's a sampling of some neighbourhoods: http://www.torontotourism.com/WhatTo...ghborhoods.htm Suburban communities have used former village cores as BIA's, branded them and then promote them through events. Streetsville, Port Credit, and Unionville are examples. Even though they are surrounded by sprawling suburban development, they are still a focus for their surrounding communities.

    Well you get the idea. The streetsigns identify the local neighbourhood, along with banners along the lamp posts. Often there is a strong identity among the businesses with the neigbourhood their in. This identity goes toward the local festivals that take place in these districts. Taste of Little Italy and Taste of the Danforth (which is the main road through Greektown) along with the Beaches Jazz Festival are just some these events which attract people from across the city. Drop someone off in any of these areas and they'd be able to tell what area they were in just by the atmosphere of the place.

    So I guess creating districts such as Little Italy could be beneficial, but there's a lot more work involved than just labelling a couple of blocks. In order for it to work there has to be some community involvement and relation to the designation. If it's mostly Vietnamese, why not pick a different name like Little Saigon or a historic name with no ethnic ties. This works best as successive waves go through the area. Yorkville went from middle class to Haight & Ashbury to Rodeo Drive in one generation. If the branding is successful it will start to build on its own successes in time.

  15. #15

    The tradtional Italian precinct in & around Sydney's Leichhardt

    Certainly stimulating the economy is on and around Norton Street in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Leichhardt (also affectionately known as "Dykeheart" due to the large lesbian population in the area - you go girls! :-} )

    It has evolved over the last 10-15 years socially as well, for most of the obvious reasons stated and images posted below.

    Besides the resident 3rd to 4th generation Italians in the area, folk come from all over to enjoy the 'Italian experience' i.e. the coffee, the food and the occasional Italian film festivals @ the local Palace cineplex.

    Many images below (obviously) courtesy of sydneymate.com



    Leichhardt City Hall; an extremely beautiful structure built in 1888. Its style is a hybrid of Victorian Italianate & Victorian Free Classical:

    ______________



    2 glimpses of Norton Street's architecture::





    The Italian Forum, built in stages from mid-1999 - 2000. Architects of this Tuscan influenced post-modern complex were Romaldo Giurgola & Colin Griffiths. It consists of stores, restaurants, coffee lounges, 157 residential apartments, a huge enclosed plaza and a specialist Italian library.







    ......and with Dante's fountain:



    Official web site (informative as well as propaganda-ish): Italian Forum

    The Palace Cinema Norton complex:

    _

    ________

    The 'sweet tooth's' drawcard, gelati - Yeeeeeeeeey!! - *Licks lips and slurps*

    ___________________________

  16. #16
    Cyburbia Administrator
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    (Dan) Merging the two Little Italy threads.

    Interesting .... it doesn't look like any of the traditional, crowded "Little Italy", "Little Sicily" or "Italian Village" neighborhoods in the US. I should take photos of Little Italy in Cleveland; the neighborhood is incredibly dense by American standards, and the four block long stretch of Mayfield Road is packed with Italian restaurants, both red sauce joints and upscale Tuscan and Northern Italian-themed trattorias. Like Dykeheart, Cleveland's Little Italy is something of a tourist attraction; it's very active at night.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    (Dan) Merging the two Little Italy threads.

    Interesting .... it doesn't look like any of the traditional, crowded "Little Italy", "Little Sicily" or "Italian Village" neighborhoods in the US.
    Believe me Dan, it certainly gets crowded. As I mentioned in my last post, socially it has evloved over the past 10-15 years. It's an area to go and hang out over a coffee and/or a meal. It's usually hard to get a table too. Also to practise your Italian with the waiters LOL.

    BTW, if you take pics of Cleveland's Little Italy, you'll have to merge "The three Little Italy" threads

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