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#176: Miami vs. New York? : Averill comments

From: Gage Averill <gage.averill@nyu.edu>

I have worked off and on in Miami for a decade and it has always been one
of my very favorite cities anywhere.  A couple of things I've noticed about
Miami might help to answer Anne Fuller's question about migrant settlement
patterns vis a vis NYC: 1) The immigrant communities in Miami are much more
narrowly based in Latin American and Caribbean countries of origin, and
this is unlike NYC which, despite the great numbers of Haitians,
Dominicans, Puertorricans, etc. attracts even larger numbers of Russians,
Irish, Chinese, West Africans, and the list goes on. . .  2) The
extraordinary growth of the Latin (primarily Cuban at first) community with
its initial middle-class composition (Latinos now account for over 50% of
Dade County) made for a vocal and organized immigrant community that
colonized the building trades (among others) and participated visibly in
politics.  The Cubans helped to put pressure on institutions like the press
to be responsive, and that has served subsequent immigrant groups.  3) City
geography.  New York, with its five boroughs and history of ethnic
displacement and internal mobility has identifiable ethnic neighborhoods
for sure, but these are much more fluid, porous, and scattered than Miami's
tidy immigrant districts.  In practice, Miami migrants has become much more
dispersed, moving north and south, but the downtown districts (Calle Ocho,
Little Haiti, Overtown, etc.) remain as obviously Balkanized remnants of a
semi-stable ethnic pattern of settlement and commerce.  On a more general
level, Miami is smaller, more concentrated, newer, and more heavily
dominated by immigrants. . . all factors that would help to make for a high
visibility of ethnic groups in the city.  And the model set by the Cubans
has helped all successive waves of immigrants to organize (Chambers of
Commerce, businesses, union membership, political representation. . .)