Latinos are an indispensable part of the borough,
totaling 551,004 in Queens, according to 2000
Census figures. The four main groups within the
Latino community are Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians
and Colombians. There are 69,875 Dominicans; 60,298
Colombians; 57,716 Ecuadorians and 55,418 Mexicans.
Each of those numbers is roughly the size of the
population of Southampton, Long Island (55,000).
Different groups of Latinos are dotted throughout
Queens. They hold strong ties to family, country
and language. In most Latino communities, residents
are very comfortable speaking among each other
in their native tongue. Many Dominicans have settled
in Corona and Woodside. Colombians are very easy
to find in the Jackson Heights area, specifically
down Roosevelt Avenue. The number of Mexicans
in Queens has soared since 2000; the folks from
south of the Rio Grande settle in places like
Jackson Heights and Corona.
They Got There
Latino immigrants are often drawn to Queens because
they can get jobs easily-and because they’re
turned off by high rent prices in Manhattan. The
economic downturn suffered by Mexico and Colombia
in the 1980s and early ‘90s lured many to
the US seeking work. Colombia’s civil war,
also in the ‘80s, was another big reason
Makes Them Who They Are
Latinos in Queens are still very much in touch
with homeland cultures. Just like many minorities
working hard to become Americanized and gain acceptance
in their communities, Latinos are becoming stronger
by the year within Queens.
Queens, including the section of Jackson
Heights, has a large Latino population.Tribune
photo by Ira Cohen
the guys I know are doing great, going to universities
and getting Master’s Degrees,” says
Gonzado Salvatore, a Bolivian man who has been
living in Queens for 7 years.
Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15th,
the anniversary of independence for five Latin
American countries: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador,
Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Politicians like Assemblyman Jose Peralta of District
39 and Councilman Hiram Monserrate of District
21 are prime examples of Latinos moving up in
Queens. There are also many clubs and restaurants
that hold plenty of Salsa flavor. Some hot spots
in Queens are Club Casablanca on Queens Boulevard,
Club Casino in Woodside, Club Melao in Long Island
City, and Ilusiones in Astoria.
“We have made incremental steps,”
says Councilman Monserrate of a Latino representation
in government equal to the ever-increasing populations.
“[But] we are still working towards adequate
representation as far as numbers. We are the largest
and fastest growing ethnic group in the city,
and the numbers of elected officials do not specifically
correspond to that growth we are working this
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