#371 A Visit to Little Syria: An Immigrant Story


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Just south of the World Trade Center district sits the location of a forgotten Manhattan immigrant community. Curious outsiders called it "Little Syria" although the residents themselves would have known it as the Syrian Colony.

Starting in the 1880s people from the Middle East began arriving at New York's immigrant processing station -- immigrants from Greater Syria which at that time was a part of the Ottoman Empire.

The Syrians of Old New York were mostly Christians who brought their trades, culture and cuisine to the streets of lower Manhattan. And many headed over to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well, creating another district for Middle Eastern American culture which would outlast the older Manhattan area.

Who were these Syrian immigrants who made their home here in New York? Why did they arrive? What were their lives like? And although Little Syria truly is long gone, what buildings remain of this extraordinary district?

PLUS: A visit to Sahadi's, a fine food shop that anchors today's remaining Middle Eastern scene in Brooklyn. Greg and Tom head to their warehouse in Sunset Park to get some insight on the shop's historic connections to the first Syrian immigrants.


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