Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordered by Greenpoint to the north; Bedford–Stuyvesant to the south; Bushwick and East Williamsburg to the east; and the East River to the west. As of the 2020 United States census, the neighborhood’s population is 151,308. A significant component of the Italian community on the North Side were immigrants from the city of Nola near Naples. Residents of Nola every summer celebrate the “Festa dei Gigli” (feast of lilies) in honor of St. Paulinus of Nola, who was bishop of Nola in the fifth century, and the immigrants brought this tradition over with them. For two weeks every summer, the streets surrounding Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on Havemeyer and North 8th Streets, are dedicated to a celebration of Italian culture.
The highlights of the feast are the “Giglio Sundays” when a 100-foot (30 m) tall statue, complete with band and a singer, is carried around the streets in honor of St. Paulinus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Clips of this awe-inspiring sight are often featured on NYC news broadcasts. A significant number of Italian-Americans still reside in the area, although the numbers have decreased over the years. The northeastern section of Williamsburg associated with “Italian Williamsburg” retains a significant Italian-American presence and is home to numerous Italian-American families, community centers, social clubs, businesses, and restaurants, such as Bamonte’s, the Fortunato Brothers Cafe, Anthony and Son Panini Shoppe, Emily’s Pork Store, Napoli Bakery, Metropolitan Fish Market, Jr and Son, and Salerno Autobody. Sections of Graham Avenue in the Italian section are named Via Vespucci in honor of Amerigo Vespucci and the Italian character of the neighborhood. Despite the fact that an increasing number of Italian-Americans have moved away, many return each summer for the feast. The Giglio was the subject of a documentary, Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July, narrated by actors John Turturro and Michael Badalucco.

Vintage Photos

Current Photos