Columbus Day and the Great Italian-American Arrival

Oct 07, 2018 1779

Columbus Day has become synonymous with Italian Heritage Day, a time in which Italian Americans remember the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents, and the contributions Italian Americans have made in the U.S. The time-honored Columbus Day parades began in the late 1800s as Italian immigrants strived to create a sense of self-esteem and dignity during a period where they were subjected to bigotry and prejudice throughout the country.

The vast majority of first generation Italian immigrants took their first steps on U.S. soil at Ellis Island, following a grueling Atlantic voyage. In the 1880s, they numbered 300,000; in the 1890s, 600,000; and through the turn of the century, more than two million. By 1920, when waves of migration began to taper off, more than 4 million Italians had come to the United States, which represented more than 10 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population.

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