The Immigrant Experience

In the 1860s there was a wave of immigration to America from Italy and Sicily, and an even larger one in the 1890s. While some immigrants came through cities like New Orleans and Los Angeles, an overwhelming majority of them took their first look at America by gazing up at the Statue of Liberty and the neighboring Ellis Island. It was through the immigration office at Ellis that millions of Italian Americans' ancestors came through processing and on their way to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa, or Newark. There they settled into tight-knit ethnic enclaves. “Little Italys” sprang up across the country, letting the newcomers enjoy the comforts of their birthplace while making their way in their adopted homeland.

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