top of page





Why are most Italian men     named Tony?


When they got on the boat to America they stamped

To NY on their foreheads. 




An Italian businessman on his deathbed called his good

friend and said,


"Luigi, I want you to promise

me that when I die you will

have my remains cremated.


"And what," his friend asked," do you want me to do with your ashes?"


The businessman said, "Just

put them in an envelope and

mail them to the IRS...and

write on the envelope,


'Now you have everything.'" 



Luigi and Paulo were fishing

in the Mediterranean sea one sunny day when a World War II mine came floating along.


On seeing this round, spikey object coming nearer and

nearer, Luigi shouts at his



" Hey Paulo, it's a mine, it's a mine!!!"


Paulo replies


"RELAX  Luigi, you can have it!!! "








little italy black t shirt
little italy 1986 world cup nyc
little italy nyc italy flag building
angelos pizza manhattan
little italy ferrara nyc


Little Italy is a general name for an  ethnic enclave  populated

primarily by Italians or people of Italian ancestry, usually in an

urban neighbourhood. The concept of "Little Italy" holds

many different aspects of the Italian culture. There are

shops selling Italian goods as well as Italian restaurants lining

the streets. A "Little Italy" strives essentially to have a version

of the country of Italy placed in the middle of a big city. This

sort of enclave is often the result of periods of immigration in

the past, during which people of the same culture settled

together in certain areas. As cities modernised and grew,

these areas became known for their ethnic associations, and

towns like "Little Italy" blossomed, becoming the icons they

are today.


Little Italy is a  neighbourhood  in lower Manhattan, New York

City, once known for its large population of Italians. Today the neighbourhood consists of only

a few Italian stores and restaurants. It is bounded on the west by Tribeca and Soho, on the

south by Chinatown, on the east by the Bowery and Lower East Side, and on the north by Nolita. Little Italy on Mulberry Street used to extend as far south as Worth Street, as far north as Houston Street, as far west as Lafayette Street and as far east as Bowery. It is now only three blocks on Mulberry Street. Little Italy originated as Mulberry Bend.  Jacob Riis  described Mulberry Bend as  "the foul core of New York’s slums." 


Bill Tonelli from New York magazine said, "Once, Little Italy was like an insular Neapolitan village re-created on these shores, with its own language, customs, and financial cultural institutions." Little Italy was not the largest Italian neighbourhood in

New York City, as East Harlem (as Italian Harlem) had a larger Italian population. Tonelli said that Little Italy "was perhaps the city’s poorest Italian neighbourhood". In 1910 Little Italy had almost 10,000 Italians; that was the peak of the community's Italian population. At the turn of the 20th century over 90% of the residents of the Fourteenth Ward were of Italian birth or origins.  Tonnelli  said that it meant "that residents began moving out to more spacious digs almost as soon as they arrived."


After World War II, many residents of the Lower East Side began moving to Brooklyn,  Staten Island,  eastern Long Island, and New Jersey. Chinese immigrants became an increased presence after the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 removed immigration restrictions, and the Manhattan Chinatown to Little Italy's south expanded. In 2004, Tonell said, "You can go back 30 years and find newspaper clips chronicling the expansion of Chinatown and mourning the loss of Little Italy."


Prior to 2004, several upscale businesses entered the northern portion of the area between Houston and Kenmare Street. Tonelli said "Real-estate prices zoomed, making it even tougher for the old-timers—residents and business people alike—to hang on." After the September the 11th attacks in 2001, areas below Houston Street were cut off for the rest of the fall of 2001. The San Gennaro feast, scheduled for September 13th, was postponed. Business from the Financial District dropped severely, due to the closure of Park Row, which connected  Chinatown  and the Civic Center; as a result, residents in Little Italy and Chinatown suffered. Tonelli said the post - 9/11 events "strangely enough, ended up motivating all these new fangled efforts to save what’s left of the old neighbourhood."

nyc little italy map

In 2004 Tonelli said "Today, Little Italy is a veneer—50 or so restaurants and

cafés catering to tourists, covering a dense neighbourhood of tenements shared

by recent Chinese immigrants, young Americans who can’t afford Soho, and a

few remaining real live Italians." This sentiment has also been echoed by Italian

culture and heritage website  Italian Aware. 


The site has called the dominance of Italians in the area, "relatively short lived."

It attributes this to the quick financial prosperity many Italians achieved, which

afforded them the opportunity to leave the cramped neighbourhood for areas in

Brooklyn and  Queens.  The site also goes on to state that the area is

currently referred to as Little Italy more out of nostalgia than as a reflection

of a true ethnic population.


In 2010, Little Italy and Chinatown were listed in a single historic district on the

National Register of Historic Places. Little Italy, by this point, was shrinking



As of the 2000  U.S. Census,  1,211 residents claiming Italian ancestry lived in

three census tracts that make up Little Italy. Those residents comprise 8.25% of

the population in the community, which is similar to the proportion of those of

Italian ancestry throughout New York City. Bill Tonelli of New York magazine

contrasted Little Italy with the Manhattan Chinatown. In 2000, of residents of the

portions of Chinatown south of Grand Street, 81% were of Chinese origins.


In 2004, Tonelli said "Little Italy may always endure as an open-air theme park of

nineteenth and twentieth-century European immigration to the Lower East Side... But you’ll spend a long time in the neighbourhood before you hear anyone speak Italian, and then the speaker will be a tourist from Milan." Tonelli added "You have to slow your gaze to find the neighbours in this neighbourhood, because they’re so overwhelmed and outnumbered by the tourists. But once you focus, you can see them, standing (or sitting) in the interstices, taking in the scene, like the group of men, mostly senior citizens, loitering contentedly under an awning on Mulberry Street."


Little Italy was home to dozens of restaurants that serve authentic  Italian cuisine,  but between March 2013 and March

2014, eight eateries closed down. Since 2004, Sorrento Lactalis funds neighbourhood cultural events in Little Italy.


The  Feast of San Gennaro  originally was once only a one-day religious commemoration. It began in September 1926 with the new arrival of immigrants from Naples. The Italian immigrants congregated along Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Little Italy to celebrate San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. The Feast of San Gennaro is a large street fair, lasting 11

days, that takes place every September along Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal Streets. The festival is an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community. In 1995 Mort Berkowitz became the professional manager of a community group that had been formed to take over management of the San Gennaro feast. Since then, Berkowitz became involved in other recreational activities in Little Italy, including the summer, Carnevale, Columbus Day, and Christmas events.


Richard Alba, a sociologist and professor at University at Albany,  SUNY,  said "The fascinating part here is the way in which ethnic tourism not only by Italian-Americans but by people who want to see an authentic urban village—keeps these neighbourhoods going."

real nyc designer market fashion art design
crimes in little italy nyc


Little Italy residents have seen organized crime since the early 1900s.

Powerful members of the Italian Mafia operated in Little Italy.


  •  Ignazio "The Wolf" Lupo  (a Morello crime family boss

      operated in Little Italy from late 1890s-1920s).

  •  Michele "Big Mike" Miranda  (a Capo in the Genovese crime

      family operated in the neighbourhood from the 1950s in the late


  •  Peter DeFeo  (a Genovese crime family capo who operated an

      illegal Italian lottery in the 1960s into the 1970s)

  •  Matthew "Matty the Horse"  Ianniello (a Genovese crime

      family capo operated from his restaurant Umberto's Clam House

      in the 1970s)

  •  John Gotti  (boss of the Gambino crime family operated from

      the Ravenite Social Club in the late 1980s into the early 1990s)


Little Italy was the locale of the fictional Corleone crime family

depicted in the novel  The Godfather  and the three movies based on

it. Little Italy also appears as a small district in Liberty City in

Grand Theft Auto 4. This district also has presence of the Italian

Mafia. It is likely that the Little Italy in Grand Theft Auto 4 was based

on this one due to the facts that Manhattan is in New York and Liberty

City is based on New York.

 Ignazio Lupo  (March 19th, 1877 – January 13th, 1947), also known as Ignazio Saietta and Lupo the Wolf, was a Sicilian-American Black Hand leader in New York City during the early 1900s. His business was centered in Little Italy, Manhattan, where he ran large extortion operations and committed other crimes including robberies, loan-sharking, and murder. By the start of the 20th century, Lupo merged his crew with others in the South Bronx and East Harlem to form the Morello crime family, which became the leading Mafia family in New York City. Suspected of at least 60 murders he was not caught by authorities until 1910, when the Secret Service arrested him for running a large scale counterfeiting ring in the  Catskills.  After serving 10 years of a 30-year sentence he was forced into retirement by the emerging National Crime Syndicate.


 Michele "Big Mike" Miranda  (July 6th, 1896 - July 16th, 1973) was a long time member and eventual  consigliere  of the Genovese crime family and one of the most powerful New York gangsters in the 1950s and 1960s.

 Peter De Feo  (March 4th, 1902 – April 6th, 1993), also known as "Philie Aquilino", was a New York mobster who became a capo regime with the Genovese crime family.


 Matthew Joseph "Matty the Horse" Ianniello  (June 18th, 1920 – August 15th, 2012) was a New York  mobster  with the Genovese crime family who was once the acting boss of the Genovese Crime Family. During the 1960s and 70's, Ianniello controlled the lucrative adult entertainment business that were then centered in the Times Square section of Manhattan.


 John Joseph Gotti Jr  (October 27th, 1940 – June 10th, 2002) was an American mobster who became the boss of the  Gambino  crime family in New York City. Gotti and his brothers grew up in poverty and turned to a life of crime at an early age. Operating out of the Ozone Park neighbourhood of Queens, Gotti quickly rose to prominence, becoming one of the crime family's biggest earners and a protégé of Gambino family under boss Aniello Dellacroce.


The American Mafia, commonly known as the Mafia, Italian Mafia, Italian Mob, or the Mob in the United States, is a confederation of Italian American criminal societies. Similar to the Sicilian Mafia, the Italian-American Mafia is a secret criminal society without a formal name. Its members usually refer to it as  Cosa Nostra  (Italian pronunciation: kɔza nɔstra), a phrase which literally translates to "our thing," but can be more accurately paraphrased as "our work" or "our operation." The press also coined the name "National Crime Syndicate" to refer to the entire network of U.S. organised crime, which included the Jewish Mafia elements and the Italian-American Mafia.


As revealed by the findings of a U.S. Senate Special Committee in the 1950s chaired by  Estes Kefauver,  it was described as a confederation of mainly Italian and Jewish-American organized crime groups throughout the U.S.




















The Mafia is currently most active in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Detroit, and Chicago; with smaller families, associates and crews in places such as Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Cleveland. There have been at least 26 cities around the United States with Cosa Nostra families, with many more offshoots, splinter groups and associates in other cities. There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families:

                                                                                                                                               the Gambino, Lucchese,

Genovese, Bonanno and  Colombo families. .are Mafia dominated organised crime in the U.S. While each crime family operates independently, nationwide coordination is provided by the Commission, which consists of the bosses of each of the strongest families.


Law enforcement still considers the  Mafia  the largest organised crime group in the United States. It has maintained control over much of the organised crime activity in the United States and certain parts of Canada.


Today most of the Mafia's activities are contained to the North eastern United States and Chicago where they continue to dominate organised crime despite the increasing numbers of street gangs and other organisations that are not of Italian origin.

$ $ $ $  There’s no such thing as good money or bad money. There’s just money.  $ $ $ $


 ~ Lucky luciano 


godfather gonna make him a offer he cannot refuse
Mafia Banner
usa italy flag
goodfellas never rat on your freinds
godfather gangster al pacino
nyc john gotti gangster
mean streets 1973
casino robert de nero
Cosa Nostra

 The material on this site does not necessarily reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

 The material on this site does not reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

bottom of page