Italian Culture in New Orleans

Mar 05, 2020 5519

The majority of Italian immigrants in New Orleans were from Sicily and started to arrive in large numbers in the 1880s to escape a homeland that had fallen into a corrupt, dangerous, and unlawful state. They arrived in a city where previous Italian immigrants had established a decent-sized community, dating back to the French era. In fact, the Italian-born Henri de Tonti, as part of a French expedition, explored Louisiana even before New Orleans existed and later became a leader in the fledgling colony. A street named after Tonti is still here.

As the Sicilian population grew in New Orleans, iconic social clubs and benevolent organizations sprung up. The oldest group began before the Civil War, but more formed with the wave of Sicilian immigrants during the last part of the 19th century. These organizations were often linked to a specific region in Italy to preserve customs among members and helped provide a support network for new arrivals. Many Italians settled in run-down apartments in the lower French Quarter, which came to be known as “Little Palermo.”

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SOURCE: https://www.neworleans.com

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