New York City's Cultural Neighborhoods

New York City is a cultural hub, a melting pot, the result of bright energy from all over the world. In this town that so many call home, there are pockets of concentrated culture tucked away in neighborhoods all over the city. These areas have become culinary landmarks, top tourist destinations, and proof that the combination of unique perspectives is what truly defines the beauty of one of the most iconic cities in the world.

Little Italy, Manhattan

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Perhaps one of the most well known cultural areas of NYC, Little Italy got its start when immigrants from Naples and Sicily came to the area in the late 1800s. It grew quickly, soon spanning over 50 blocks in its most crowded years, but it currently occupies around 14 blocks. Tourists and locals alike can be found walking through small and winding cobblestone streets to indulge in gelato and cannoli. Amble down Mulberry Street in September to witness the Feast of San Gennaro. This festival remains one of the largest celebrations of Italian heritage in the United States and is of course hugely remembered by the members of the New York Italian community.

Chinatown, Manhattan

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This bustling section of Manhattan is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States. Chinatown is one enclave with the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Take part in the frequent street fairs or enjoy some traditional and delicious Chinese foods in one of the many restaurants. The fruit stands here are filled with exotic flavors and the large crowds of people leave this part of town buzzing long after sunset.

Little Poland, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

While walking through Greenpoint, you will be surrounded by pairs engaged in conversations in Polish and tempted by the warm smells of pierogis and kiełbasa. Signs are printed in Polish, advertising traditional baked good and delicacies. This northern section of NYC is beginning to see a rise in hipster culture as well, as the feel here is much more intimate and quiet than other parts of the city. Creativity flourishes in Greenpoint, along with the ever present pride of the Polish culture.

Little India, Jackson Heights, Queens

Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse sections of the city. You will find food here from countries all over the globe, including India, Mexico, the Middle East, and others in South Asia, where most of Jackson Heights' residents are originally from. Wander through markets and food stalls to see colorful fabrics, Bollywood DVDs, and curries. An explosion of sound, sight, and taste, this lively neighborhood will leave you reeling with the colors and sounds of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Koreatown, West 32nd Street, Manhattan

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Known by most as “K-Town,” Koreatown in Manhattan is another area dominated by rich culture and locally owned businesses. Here, even the street signs are written in Korean to accommodate the large number of tourists. Koreatown is a small area in the city, but packs a big punch with its colorful restaurants and Korean-brand department stores. Fans of the K-pop culture will find something at every corner and fans of Korean food will be sure not to go hungry.

Little Odessa, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

As the home to one of the largest population of Russians outside Russia itself, Little Odessa dishes out traditional delicacies and promotes daily sales on signs written in Russian. When the New York winter winds hit, you’ll be sure to see people walking down the street in full fur coats and munching on a warm Soviet baked goods. If you’re lucky, you may even see some locals enjoying some vodka – no matter what time of day it is. A unique and fun place to explore, Little Odessa on Brighton Beach remains one of the most interesting parts of the city, and a must see for anyone wanting to get a taste of a new culture.

New York’s vibrancy can be attributed to the all the cultural experiences that the city has to offer. While walking around, it’s easy to feel like you’ve just come back from a whirlwind trip around the world. Whether you are relocating or simply visiting, be sure to carve out some time in New York to see all it has to offer. The food, the sights, the sounds, the traditions – they keep New Yorkers awake long enough to see how little their city sleeps.

Kim Hill