Map showing Journey to New York City

Journey to New York City

Immigration from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean shaped the New York music scene, especially following the 1898 Spanish-American War. Cuban musicians made an early impact with the rumba, mambo and cha cha chá. Puerto Ricans, who became U.S. citizens in 1917 and came to New York in the largest numbers, were innovators in mambo, salsa and hip-hop. In the late 20th century arrivals of people and music from the Dominican Republic surged.

Concentrated Latino populations in The Barrio (also called Spanish Harlem) and the South Bronx encouraged cultural solidarity. Leading Latino musicians during the eras of mambo, salsa, and hip-hop often lived close to one another.

  1. Early 1900s: Cuban musicians travel the Havana-New York entertainment circuit, and some make New York their home by the 1930s.
  2. 1917: Puerto Ricans become U.S. citizens, following the 1898 Spanish American war. Economic pressure and freedom to travel make Puerto Ricans the largest Latino group in New York by the 1940s.
  3. 1980s to present: Dominican immigration to New York swells
  4. The Barrio:
    Latino musicians who played together often lived close to one another in neighborhoods like Spanish Harlem (The Barrio) and the South Bronx

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Migration Part 1: Carmen Void "And, among all of those things, I often wondered why we came here."