Kenneth Jackson: NYC's history explains its immigrant tradition, historian says

Historians in the News

A long time before Lady Liberty appeared, New York was welcoming immigrants like no other American city.

And the reason dates back centuries, historian Kenneth Jackson said in a lecture Friday night. While other cities were established by groups looking to protect their religious beliefs, New Amsterdam began as a center of trade. Founded by the Dutch in 1624, the city quickly attracted diverse nationalities. The driving force, then as now, is a pursuit of prosperity, Jackson said. The prevailing attitude: "We don't care who your grandfather was. Can you get this job done for me?"

More than its size and density, its wealth and industry, that outlook is Gotham's true distinction, Jackson said.

"The ultimate unusual characteristic of New York," he said, "is that it's never had a majority culture."

Jackson, a Columbia University professor and editor of "The Encyclopedia of New York City," gave the first in a series of three fall lectures that will raise money for the Neighbors Link center in Mount Kisco. The center replaced its usual fall gala with the three events featuring Northern Westchester neighbors. The "Latin Links" series is meant to generate discussion about the influence of immigrants over time. Jackson spoke at the Katonah Museum of Art.
Read entire article at Journal News (Westchester)

comments powered by Disqus