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Old 11-20-2013, 05:46 PM
 
Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
11 posts, read 107,815 times
Reputation: 33

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Does anyone have any information on Birmingham's "Little Italy" district around the turn of the 20th century? It was just a fraction of the districts found in the bigger cities up north but I feel like it is a somewhat forgotten part of Birmingham's history. I didn't find much on Google but did find this great article.

Birmingham, Alabama’s “Little Italy” | jovinacooksitalian

District is long gone but I wonder if there are any building still standing that were part of it.
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Old 11-20-2013, 07:54 PM
 
1,892 posts, read 2,498,854 times
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Originally Posted by prbobo View Post
Does anyone have any information on Birmingham's "Little Italy" district around the turn of the 20th century? It was just a fraction of the districts found in the bigger cities up north but I feel like it is a somewhat forgotten part of Birmingham's history. I didn't find much on Google but did find this great article.

Birmingham, Alabama’s “Little Italy” | jovinacooksitalian

District is long gone but I wonder if there are any building still standing that were part of it.
I really don't know of a specific district. There were many areas that contained multiple Italian owned/run businesses.
Before there were the plethora of restaurants there were the many small neighborhood groceries. Ultimately, of course, the Bruno family brought us our premiere local grocery.

The areas where the businesses would most likely be found spread from Ensley across the northern sweep of the city. Especially North Birmingham, and Norwood most of all. Schools such as Phillips High School were about one third Italian Catholic in the fifties and sixties. They were humorously referred to, within the schools, as the other Catholic schools. (a reference to John Carroll High, then just across downtown from Phillips)
In the seventies most families moved to areas like Vestavia Hills and Homewood and Hoover.

It would be hard to remember a time when Italians were not an integral part of the city and its character just as they are today.

Perhaps this is why it would be hard to find an area that one could call Little Italy. There is a little of Italy all over town, and we are the better for it.

raj
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:35 AM
 
1,892 posts, read 2,498,854 times
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Originally Posted by TheJollyOx View Post
They were concentrated very early on in Ensley. They were dispersed much later on when they could buy houses "over the Mountain". Others were found in and around "North Birmingham" and had small grocery stores that even served some smaller black communities (Ferlisi).Discrimination was de rigueur for Italians and Sicilians and Lebanese and Syrians/Arabs in Birmingham. Good ole White folks didn't like them moving in.Years ago I had a long conversation with the elder Simonetti who owned the Texaco station across the street from the Parisian plaza in Vestavia - he told me some horrible stories of agents refusing to sell him property in Vestavia Hills ! I was not shocked. he was pissed about that well into the later years of his life....puffing on a big cigar sitting outside of his Station.Go talk to the descendants of Simonetti, Sam Ferlisi , and Greeks like Grammas. If the elder Joe Bruno were still alive, he could tell you some horror stories, but he shielded his family from that crap so the descendants may know less - I do, because Joe knew my family well.Syrian/Arab families were congregated on the Southside all the way east of the old George Ward park....whether they were the Salems, Zadens or a number of other families.Later on, some of the "connected" families migrated with the first push to north Shelby County.There is lots of Italian history around Birmingham but it is also intertwined with other non-white minority groups who also know the "tale". White folks in Birmingham never had a history of liking Italians, Syrians/Arabs, Greeks, Lebanese, Jews or Blacks - they hated Blacks and tolerated some of the other "visibly non-Anglo" groups.Go talk to some of these descendants about what their parents went through...such as the Shaia's.The story is not pretty.....another reason why Birmingham is a laggard.

You are a sick racist. I only write that because you chose to make this a race issue.
Why didn't you just answer the OP's question. Why come here and add all this. Italians are white people you fool. So are the others you mentioned.

Look at my name; you offend me...............

I know most of the families you mentioned and they aren't in the dirt like you.

raj
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:44 AM
 
178 posts, read 265,572 times
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That's a pretty trollish post raj. And I say that as someone who greatly appreciates your typically informed take on issues even where we disagree.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:15 AM
 
2,449 posts, read 4,811,207 times
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Italians, Irish, and pretty much Catholics used to not be considered white. Whiteness is not a static quality, and the definition has changed over time. Look up the original "know-nothings".
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 13,354,247 times
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Im pretty sure Ox is just another new SN for a past poster who is just taking another pass on dumping on Birmingham ever chance he gets. This time hes starting out a little more sly and veiled but eventually he'll bring it full force. Just wait...
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:47 AM
 
2,449 posts, read 4,811,207 times
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Originally Posted by Tourian View Post
Im pretty sure Ox is just another new SN for a past poster who is just taking another pass on dumping on Birmingham ever chance he gets. This time hes starting out a little more sly and veiled but eventually he'll bring it full force. Just wait...
Good point. Disengage.
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Old 11-21-2013, 01:42 PM
 
28,905 posts, read 46,712,118 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tourian View Post
Im pretty sure Ox is just another new SN for a past poster who is just taking another pass on dumping on Birmingham ever chance he gets. This time hes starting out a little more sly and veiled but eventually he'll bring it full force. Just wait...
Yeah. The gratuitous name dropping is a tipoff.
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:09 PM
 
49 posts, read 50,607 times
Reputation: 193
Blue beard is absolutely correct in that Italians used to not be considered white as most of the immigration from Italy was from the southern portion of Italy and that portion of Italy is browner than the northern portion of Italy. My great grandparents were from Sicily and immigrated to the USA in the 1920's and were in the Ensley area. There was a thriving immigrant population with a grocer, etc. my relatives had a speed shop on 1st Ave- Rocco and Cheaters. My grandparents moved to Homewood in the 1970s.
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 13,354,247 times
Reputation: 10020
Ah... I remember Rocco and Cheaters. Claimed to be the south's oldest speed shop right? Or something like that. Too bad by the time I had my own ride I didn't have any real American muscle and the place closed down.
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