New York City: A Visit to the United Nations and its Living Counterpart
Experience ethnic and cultural diversity in NYC's popular landmark as well as everywhere else.The 152-foot-tall Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor still beckons immigrants just like it did in 1886, when it was erected after being shipped in pieces from Paris -- a gift to the United States by the people of France. The words written at the base of Lady Liberty by poet Emma Lazarus read: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free ... I lift my lamp beside the golden door" are still as heartfelt for today's immigrants as they were for the 12 million immigrants who came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau report about NYC revealed an increasingly diverse and dynamic city with immigrants making up the majority of the residents in some neighborhoods. All five boroughs illustrate this melting pot of cultures through activities, museums, stores and restaurants, where you can meet people of different countries, sample exotic cuisine and products, listen to international music and watch foreign films.
INTERNATIONAL PARADES REFLECTING NYC’S DIVERSITY
The Annual International Cultures Parade
June, Midtown Manhattan
The international combustion engine that is New York City is reflected in the many ethnic parades that happen throughout the year. One of the best examples of NYC as a living United Nations is the Annual International Cultures Parade which is organized and sponsored by the International Immigrants Foundation, a non-governmental organization at the United Nations.
This is the only parade in New York City that showcases the multicultural heritage of over 100 world communities at once. The Regional Tibetan Women's Association of New York and New Jersey has coordinated the parade for the last six years. Along with a contingent of colorful Tibetans, thousands of people -- from Morocco to Mexico, Egypt to Ecuador, ranging from young children to their great-grandparents -- join in the festivities. Some walk through the streets of midtown New York while others ride floats, dance, play music and perform in native costumes.
Of course, you can find a parade celebrating the heritage of practically any ethnic group. Here are some of the biggest:
- Chinese New Year Parade
First full moon between Jan 21 and Feb 19, 212-431-9740
The parade usually winds throughout Chinatown along Mott, Canal and Bayard streets, and along East Broadway.
- St Patrick's Day Parade
March 17, 212-484-1222
Celebrating an impromptu march through the streets by Irish militiamen on St. Patrick's Day in 1762, this has become a draw for every Irish band and organization in the U.S. and Ireland. Usually starting just before noon, it heads up Fifth Avenue between 44th and 86th streets.
- Puerto Rican Day Parade
A traditional celebration of the heritage, culture and history of more than 800,000 New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent. Runs along Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 86th Street.
- West Indian-American Day Parade
Labor Day, 718-467-1797 or 212-484-1222
Brooklyn's largest parade, modeled after the carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago, features music, food and dance. The parade route begins at the corner of Rochester and Eastern Parkway and ends near the Grand Army Plaza.
- African-American Day Parade
Late September, 212-348-3080
Runs from 111th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard to 142nd Street, then east toward Fifth Avenue in Harlem.
- Columbus Day Parade
One of NYC’s largest, this parade pays tribute to the city's Italian heritage and commemorates the day America was put on the map. Runs along Fifth Avenue from 44th to 79th streets.
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC AT ITS BEST
World Music Institute (WMI), 212-545-7536
WMI supports and promotes both U.S.-resident artists as well international masters. The group presents 60 concerts a year at theaters throughout the city. Performances include acts from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East as well as regional music from throughout North America.
With one of the most diverse artist rosters and audiences, WMI plays an important role in presenting under-recognized dance and music traditions from more than 100 countries and ethnic minorities from around the world. WMI celebrates the culture of the many immigrant communities in New York, while exposing New Yorkers to musical traditions that include Afro-Peruvian, American Gospel, New York Flamenco, Soul music from Mali and Indian dancers.
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALS
In addition to being one of the most filmed cities in the world, New York City hosts international film festivals throughout the year. At almost any given time, there's a film festival where you can see the latest cinema from around the globe. Here are three to know about:
- Tribeca Film Festival, April/May
- Brooklyn International Film Festival, June
- Queens International Film Festival, November