During the forties and fifties of the last century it was mainly German and Irish people who immigrated.Around 1900 most of the immigrants were Russians Jews and Italians.
When the Irish abandoned their traditional stronghold their place was immediately taken by Italians.The old German neighbourhoods were taken over by the Russian and Polish Jews.
The Amish and German Immigration
Germans had been present in America from the early colonial times- by 1683 they had formed their own community, Germantown, near Philadelphia- but teh bulk of their immigration came in two relatively short bursts.
The first, numbering some 90,000 happened mostly in the five years from 1749 to 1754 and was completed by the time of the American revolution.
From 1830-50 there was a second larger wave.
With war waging in Europe, Germans flocked to America around 1710, many of them settling in Pennsylvania, where William Penn had established a colony with religious tolerance. Calling themselves \"Deutsch,\" German for \"German,\" the name was shortened to \"Dutch\" and they became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. They worked hard and developed a reputation as being great farmers.
In the 1720s, Swiss religious leader Jakob Ammann brought his people to Pennsylvania. They became known as the Amish, after Ammann. Believing that plain living brings people closer to God, the Amish today do not drive cars, have television, or wear modern clothes.
In the 1830s and between 1860 and 1892, there were two more large waves of German immigration. These Germans left home due to overpopulation, the desire to own their own land, and a search for political freedom. Many of this second and third wave of Germans had enough money to travel to the Midwest and buy land. They settled near Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Some also settled in farming regions of Texas.
The 1980 Census listed Germans as the second largest ethnic group in America.
The Irish Immigration
The Irish began coming to America in the 1820s, when the lack of jobs and poverty motivated them to seek better opportunities abroad.
Then between 1845 and 1847, a terrible disease struck Ireland\'s potato crop, upon which many people depended for food. Potato crops died, causing a terrible famine and about 750,000 starved to death. This lack of food caused huge numbers of people to leave Ireland. As a result, about one-and-a-half million Irish came to America during the 1840s and 1850s.
Many of the Irish who came to America were poor. They remained in areas where they disembarked from the boats, such as New York and Boston. Later, a sizable Irish-American population developed in Chicago. Today, these three cities still have huge Irish-American populations, in which they established solid political bases. According to the 1980 census, the Irish and their descendants form the third-largest ethnic group in America today.
Many Italians who came to America settled in East Coast cities, like Philadelphia and New York. Here they opened stores and restaurants featuring foods from home. An Italian neighborhood was often called \"Little Italy.\" These neighborhoods still exist in many cities today.
In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi owned an Italian restaurant in New York\'s Little Italy. He started to serve a food from Naples, Italy, and people loved it. Made from a flat, yeast bread baked with melted cheeses and tomatoes, the dish was called \"pizza.\" Today, pizza is delivered to the doors of American homes throughout the country, but back then it was a way for immigrants to have a slice of home in their new country.
The first Italian immigrant to America was Christopher Columbus. Columbus has been credited with discovering America, although he actually never set foot on mainland America. It is unknown if he ever ate pizza.
Italy never colonized parts of America as did their neighbors Spain, France, and England. Instead, many Italians started coming to America in the 1880s to escape from the poverty at home. Besides pizza, Italians introduced America to opera and pasta.
Most people\'s image of Russian immigrants is probably of women wearing babushkas arriving at Ellis Island in the late 1800s. While this picture is accurate of a huge wave of Russian immigration, the first Russians to venture to America did so on the other side of the continent almost 100 years earlier.
Russian expansion into northwest America began in 1725, as part of that country\'s search for new areas in which to trap furs, a profitable Russian business.
The next wave of Russian immigrants came through New York in the late 1800s, when government pogroms attacked Jewish villages and the 1891 famine sent native Russians to America.
The Russian Revolution in 1917 also sent people running for shelter in America, as did the subsequent establishment of the Communist Party in Russia. Soon it became difficult to get permission to leave Russia. Many yearned for political, artistic, and intellectual freedom
World Wars I and II added to the desire to immigrate as standards of living in Russia lagged far behind those of America. Still, dreaming of leaving Russia for America has always been easier than doing it. Leaving one\'s homeland, family, and friends -- perhaps never to see them again -- is a difficult choice to make, as is getting the money and necessary papers for leaving Russia.
The first Jews arrived in New Amsterdam, present-day New York, in 1654 from Brazil, where the Catholic Church\'s Inquisition was underway.
The first large wave of Jewish immigration, however, began in 1882, when Russians blamed the assassination of their czar, Alexander II, on Jews. This was the start of many pogroms, planned persecutions, against the Jews.
Jews throughout Russia tried to escape to Europe and America. Many arrived in New York and settled there, finding work in the garment industry.
The second large wave of Jewish immigration came during and after World War II. At the start of the war, many German and Austrian Jews who felt Hitler\'s threat, escaped to America. Some of these people were the top thinkers and scientists of Europe. Among them were scientist Albert Einstein and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Their leaving Europe was called a \"Brain Drain,\" because so much intellectual power was leaving the country.
During the war, American laws limiting Jewish immigration prevented many from escaping Europe and emphasized the need for Israel. Later, the Displaced Person Act of 1948 and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, opened America to the Jews who had managed to survive the war and the concentration camps.
The third big wave of Jewish immigration came in 1989 when Russia relaxed its laws prohibiting Jews from leaving the country. These people came to America and to Israel.
Chinese Immigration: Looking For Gold Mountain
About the same time gold was discovered in California, famine hit the Guangdong Province in southeast China. Hearing about California\'s Gim San, Gold Mountain, many Chinese men left for America hoping to make a fortune and return home a few years later to their loved ones. Few struck it rich and the rest fought to survive.
The Gold Rush in California and the Pacific Northwest increased the demand for railroads to connect these remote parts of America. Building railroads required lots of low-paid labor, which hungry immigrant Chinese provided. By 1880, there were about 300,000 Chinese in America, but few were warmly welcomed by Americans once the railroads were completed. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first time in American history that immigration restrictions were aimed at one ethnic group.
In the mid-1880s, America was in a post-Civil War depression and the Chinese became a target for American frustrations. In some Western towns, mobs attacked Chinese. In 1885, 28 Chinese were killed in Rock Springs; in 1887, seven white men killed 31 Chinese miners in northeast Oregon.
Some Chinese were forced onto boats returning to China and some left on their own. America\'s racist frenzy then subsided and the remaining Chinese settled into towns and cities to become productive citizens.
Discriminatory practices by real estate agents and homeowners prompted strong Chinatowns to develop, especially in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. While most Chinese provided the base labor for fishing, canning, and laundry businesses, a few became doctors, entrepreneurs, clergy, and other higher-status professionals.
In 1943, immigration law changed and the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed. Now, resident Chinese-American men could bring their women from home; their population until this time had been mostly male.
Wartime alliances in World War II benefited the Chinese. The Walter-McCarran Act, passed in 1952, allowed first-generation Asian-Americans to apply for U.S. citizenship. More Chinese entered fields that had been closed to them: medicine, corporate business, and politics. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act eliminated blatant anti-Asian bias in U.S. immigration.
Authoritarian political crackdowns in contemporary China and political uncertainty in Taiwan and Hong Kong have increased Chinese immigration to America. Today, strong Chinese communities exist in the West, especially in Los Angeles, which has become a contemporary Ellis Island for the Pacific Rim. Descendants of the first wave of Chinese immigrants now excel in such fields as engineering, fields from which their forebears were barred.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 brought political and economic instability to Mexico, prompting about 700,000 people to migrate to America over the next 20 years. Most recently, another wave of immigration from Mexico has occurred, beginning in the 1950s and continuing today. During this time, millions of Mexicans left poverty and high unemployment in Mexico in hopes of better jobs and wages in America.
Finally, there is the issue of America\'s shared border with Mexico, a border that invites much illegal crossing by Mexican day laborers and those seeking to permanently resettle in America. In border cities like San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas, customs officers and the Border Patrol work to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
This is a large issue in the Southwest as illegal immigrants, who are undocumented, often drive without license or insurance, work for very low wages leaving employers to make huge illegal profits, and sometimes seek health care and other services from publicly funded agencies.
Today much of the Southwest has a large Mexican population, which is forming an important political group as they wield their votes. So large is this population that many Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and Phoenix offer bilingual services at government agencies and bilingual education in public schools.
Many people believe that Mexican immigrants and their offspring are still subject to discrimination in America. This results in difficulty getting good jobs. But this is changing, as Mexican descendants gain political office and create legislation that benefit their people.