Where do Poles live in the USA;
Part I, Poles in NYC
Less and less Poles live in the traditional Polish centers.
Is it good or bad?
Poles live predominantly in Northeast and in Chicago but there is no place in
the USA where they can not be found. I recently moved to Idaho Falls (January
2001) Eastern Idaho. Our town - the gate to Yellowstone is located near the
boarder with Utah. This area is strongly influenced by LDS (Mormon) community
of Western European descend. Nevertheless I was able to become a friend with
several Polish families and my next door neighbor quite by accident, happened
to be a Polish woman of second generation (her parents were Polish immigrants
Lets go back to statistics, Census 2000 shows a slight decrease in a number
of people claiming Polish nationality as compared to Census 1990 from 9.35
millions people down to 9.05 millions. Poles are the 7th after Germans,
English, Irish, Italians etc. Number of Poles is decreasing in traditional
Polish centers like NYC or Chicago but increasing in the regions were Poles
were underrepresented like the American West. This means that Poles leave
traditionally Polish centers and ghettos and spread out to different regions.
This phenomenon has good and bad consequences. It is good that people of
Polish descend explore new territories spreading Polish culture and tradition
but on the other hand this may lead to the fall of traditionally Polish
centers with Polish schools, shops and Polish cultural life. Poles surrounded
by people of other descend will easier mingle and be absorbed into typical
American life but on the other hand their children will probably easier
forget about their origin not being able to attend Polish schools, listen to
Polish TV or communicate with other people of the same descend.
According to the census the biggest amount of Poles can be found in New York
state, especially in New York City. How is it that we do not really hear
about these Poles as much as about Poles in Chicago? NYC is like a small
world, one can find there representatives of any nations, Poles although
numerous are outnumbered by other ethnic groups like Jews, Chinese and
Italians. NYC guidebooks do not contain any special information about Polish
oasis of Brooklyn in New York called Greenpoint. It is a pity because
Greenpoint looks like a small and calm place not far from the NYC easily
reached by a subway (green line, Nassau Av.). Greenbelt has Polish groceries,
bakeries, shops with Polish music records, tapes, CDs and restaurants. It has
of course the big Polish Catholic Church. The food is very good and not
expensive in NYC standards. But people are living sometimes in difficult
conditions and the rent is expensive like everywhere in NYC.
Chicago is the most known center of Polish immigration. Poles in Chicago are
a more visible and spectacular group than the Poles in NYC. Even on the
airport O'Hare in Chicago one can hear announcements in Polish quite often.
Many custom officers are caring the badges with the information "Mowimy po
Polsku" (We are speaking Polish).