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Crusin’ The 50s in a Volatile East Harlem
The 1950s were the most important, productive, and important years in American history. Many important social and technological changes profoundly changed American society during the Golden Age. World War II ended. The American economy grew. Industrialization reached its peak. There was an expansion of higher education, rural areas and government aid to veterans after World War II. These conditions provided good reasons for economic development. For the purpose of urban workers, who often wanted a better life, the construction of many houses began. These country houses represent the new home of post-war success. Not only was it a year of many gifts, it was also the decade that rock and roll was born, a decade in which young players like James Dean, Marlon Brando, Sal Mineo, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis became beloved and played a major role. examples among young people. Pictures of America.
So while great changes and economic reforms were taking place throughout the United States, what was happening in East Harlem, New York? In the 1940s and 1950s, the East Harlem neighborhood was mixed with Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican and a small Jewish community. There were also a few African American families and other races, but they were few. However, it was enough to create tension, especially after the years of the Great Depression and World War II. This tension gradually grew in the various ethnic groups. East Harlem had the largest established Italian community, a community that flourished in the 1920s through the 30s and 40s.
With the introduction of commercial air travel in 1945, a one-way ticket from San Juan to New York suddenly cost less than $50, thus the continuous immigration of Puerto Ricans that began during World War I reached a high level. population; About 70,000 to 250,000 people during the years 1940-1950. As the Puerto Ricans continued to move to East Harlem they entered the areas that had already been established, and began to create their own neighborhoods, establishing their own customs, traditions and cuisine. By the 1950s, Italians and Puerto Ricans dominated East Harlem. Puerto Ricans became important and visible in East Harlem in the 50s, so much so that the area became known as “Spanish Harlem”. At the same time, Puerto Ricans began to populate the East Harlem neighborhood. Both Italians and Puerto Ricans found themselves at constant war, competing for housing as well as education and jobs.
Young Puerto Ricans hesitated to enter the workforce, not only when they saw their parents being discriminated against, but also when they saw their parents being frustrated. It was important that the applicants had a good command of English, even if they were in an unskilled occupation. Unemployed parents also force their teenage son to help them. These boys knew from experience that if they followed in their father’s footsteps, it would only encourage more of the same results to happen in their lives. They end up working low-paying unskilled jobs with no opportunity for advancement.
“Hell no man, that’s not for me!” they would say.
It was easy to join a gang or organize it, which gave them a sense of belonging, worth, and respect, something that many of them could not find at home. A life of crime meant solidarity and resilience in a tough, racist environment.
Gang violence was rampant in the 40’s and 50’s. East Harlem’s edge began to explode. The shuffle between the Black Dragons, the Italian Dukes, the Puerto Rican Viceroys and the Italian Redwings was a daily occurrence. Widespread, endless battles were fought to establish and maintain space and respect between Puerto Ricans and young Italians. They dominated the once troubled neighborhood of East Harlem. The noise was made by any group that asked for a fight, whether it was overstepping the boundaries of their territory, starting arguments in the streets, parks, testing their men or, more commonly, small things like humming their women.
The girls had the support of a terrorist group, and if one of them was insulted, which was usually the case to start a war, his honor would be protected. Even criminals know that she is a whore. The Greasers, anywhere from fourteen to nineteen years of age, would be rocking their chests, zip guns in hand, baseball bats ready to fire and switchblades at the ready. It made them feel like real men, smart and strong, boasting that they were ready to be understood, knowing that no matter how scared they were, they wouldn’t admit it. Inter-tribal conflict often erupted into fights, often resulting in death or hospitalization, broken heads and severe, crippling injuries. Boys cut with switchblades, beaten with tire chains or shot with bullets. Some of the group would pile up piles of milk bottles filled with stones, bricks, bricks, iron bars and anything else they could find to use as arrows and hide them on the roof before the battle. Everything was fair without rules.
The familiar sound of raucous Latin music blasting through the open windows and doors of Spanish Harlem apartments can reach the ears of unwitting passers-by. Puerto Ricans have always loved their music. For many Puerto Ricans in “El Barrio”, dancing was a distraction from the frustrations of their daily lives. It didn’t matter how tired they were or how miserable their lives were, as soon as their bodies began to shake, they would wake up, literally dance until they dropped.
Weekends were their time to go to local clubs. As the musicians played their instruments to the greatest songs in Latino music, lovers, sweaty skins, swirled around the dance floor, circling each other. Their hips and shoulders swayed as their feet danced to the beat of the music. Young busty Latin women heat up the air as they move seductively, swinging their curvaceous hips to the sound of drums. In some cases, flirting with a drunken male dancer can lead to a verbal altercation between the two men. This can lead to a street fight full of switches and broken bottles, as others rush to protect it.
Those who did not go to the night clubs stayed at home and had their own violent and noisy parties. The parties continued until the early hours of the morning, much to the dismay of the neighbors who wanted to sleep.
It was especially difficult for Jewish and Italian merchants, while Puerto Rican grocery stores, barbershops, religious shops and restaurants began to populate East Harlem. The conflict grew as disaffected Jewish and Italian merchants saw their customers change, who were now attracting others. After several fights with words and fighting, including a riot, many of the Jewish merchants decided to keep their shops, but they got used to the new citizens, eager to accept Puerto Rican merchants, even learning Spanish. As a result of these projects, East Harlem changed, with a growing African American and Latino population. On the other hand, the removal of 1500 shops left 4,500 people unemployed. Thus, a steady migration of Italian Indians began to move out of East Harlem, moving to private properties in the suburbs of New York City.
Despite their intense hostility, and in the defense of racial identity in the 1920s and 1950s, these two distinct groups, Italians and Puerto Ricans, remained intermingled, but in different ways, in the form of East Harlem.
In comparison, East Harlem is now a mere shadow of what it was in the 50s. With the arrival of many new, diverse immigrants who have made East Harlem their home, can we say without a doubt that this once chaotic area has reached a peak of stability and peaceful coexistence? ? Or will other prejudices replace the old ones? What are your thoughts?
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