The New York Arab American Community
Arab Americans are not officially recognized as a federal minority group and because of this, reporting numbers are almost never exact. Reports of the population of Arab Americans are estimated from 160,000 in New York City alone to 405,000 in the state with adjustment for underreporting. Arab-American immigration to the New York area can be traced back to two distinct waves of immigration from the Arab world. In New York, Lebanese and Syrian Americans comprise 40% of the Arab-American community.
Diversity in the Arab-American Population
There are 22 Arab countries, including Palestine, which are members of the Arab League and share a common history, language and culture-the immigrants who migrated to America are from a select group of Arab countries.
The first wave of immigrants to New York occurred during the 1870s and the 1920s. This wave, like the wave in Chicago, included many Arabs from Syria and what is now Lebanon. These immigrants had been comprised mostly of Syrian Christians – Maronite, Melchite, and Syrian Orthodox – and Syrian Jews.
The early Syrian immigrants settled on Washington Street, Manhattan’s Little Syria, and were bankers, publishers, peddlers, manufacturers and importers of lace, linen, embroideries and lingerie.
The second wave of immigration occurred after 1965 with the change of immigration laws. “Little Syria” moved to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn once the immigrants became more affluent. There, they organized churches, organizations and businesses.
This second wave of immigration also found more and more Arab Muslim immigrants to the area, causing the rise of 130 mosques in the city and the ready availability of halal butcher shops and 14 private schools.
Arab Americans now live in a variety of different enclaves in the city, spreading across the various neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but also the other boroughs.
Arab Americans are not officially recognized as a federal minority group and because of this, reporting numbers are almost never exact. Reports of the population of Arab Americans are estimated from 160,000 in New York City alone to 405,000 in the state with adjustment for underreporting.
Arab Americans in New York
- According to the Arab American Institute, the New York population of those identifying as Arab in the U.S. Census grew by almost 23% between 2000 and 2008.
Arab American Origins
- The Arab World includes 22 countries stretching from North Africa in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east.
- Arabs are ethnically, religiously and politically diverse but descend from a common linguistic and cultural heritage.
- Not all Arabs are Muslim.
- Not all Muslims are Arab.
- Arab Americans began arriving to the United States during the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Arab American Population
- Today there are over 3.5 million Arab Americans in the U.S.
- About one of every three Arab Americans lives in one of the nation’s six largest metropolitan areas.
- About 90 percent live in urban areas.
- 66 percent of Arab Americans live in 10 states.
- 33 percent live in California, Michigan and New York/New Jersey.
- The cities with largest Arab American populations are Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
U.S. Arab American Population
- “Detailed State Profiles.” The Arab American Institute.
- Gotham Gazette — History Of Arab New York.” Gotham Gazette – the Place for New York City Policy and Politics.
- “Arab Americans in New York City.” Allied Media Corp.