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Throughout the Ages
A Visual Document Resource

History | Yonkers | Latino Communities

Image. Puerto Rican Parade, Yonkers, 2000.
A multicultural crowd waits for the Puerto Rican Parade in Yonkers, circa 2000. Photo courtesy of Javier Roman.

The rhythmic strains of Latino music cascades from doorways as the aroma of pasteles, fajitas, or arepas fills the air. One is likely to hear the rapid, impassioned pattern of Spanish conversation. This is Southwest Yonkers, where a lively mix of Latino cultures is bringing new life to a depressed urban area. The 2000 Census counted 51,852 Hispanic or Latino residents in Yonkers, New York, a growth of nearly 62 percent over 1990 population figures. While the latest Census count reveals that Hispanics are the largest minority population in the city, the number is sure to be a low estimation, because many immigrant newcomers do not return the census questionnaire out of fear, or possibly a misunderstanding of its importance.

History has not recorded the names of the first Latino families who settled in Yonkers, but we know from the 1900 census that a small number had already arrived in the city by the beginning of the century. The listing of two Mexicans, two South Americans, two Spaniards, two Central Americans, and eight Cubans living in Yonkers that year is very likely the first recorded history of Latinos in the city.

Vocabulary

Pasteles: A Puerto Rican dish made of a mixture of plantains and spiced pork, wrapped in banana leaves.
Fajitas:
A Mexican dish with meat, chicken or fish, seasoned and wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Arepas:
A Colombian corn patty, filled with cheese and grilled or fried.

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