Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls to the neighborhood of Jackson Heights, where apartments are a plenty and the immigrants too. This 20th century neighborhood has evolved over the years since its first development. Today the diversity among the immigrant population currently residing in the area reflects the multiethnic culture of Queens. But enough of that, you’re interested in Jackson Heights and our first stop is the Delgado Travel Agency.

Overall tour:

Walking Tour Route - Jackson Heights

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Jackson Heights, Queens

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Delgado Travel: 40.748438, -73.878209
El Canelazo Restaurante Ecuatoriano: 40.747218, -73.885508
Jackson Heights Roosevelt Ave Train Station: 40.746509, -73.890696
Ecuadorian International Consulate (EIC): 40.747801, -73.889437
Garden Apartments: The Robert Morris Apartments: 40.749471, -73.886893
The Renaissance Charter School: 40.750061, -73.885213
Community Methodist Church: 40.751730, -73.885102
Travers Park: 40.753796, -73.889317
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Delgado Travel

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To get to the travel agency take the 7 train to 90th Street. There are different stairs down from the elevated platform of the 7. If you take the stairs from the Manhattan bound side, face towards Roosevelt Avenue, turn right and walk to 88th Street. If you take the stairs from the Queens bound side, face towards Roosevelt Avenue and, turn left and walk to 88th Street. On the corner of 88th Street and Roosevelt stands Delgado travels with its red awning and word arted “D” and “T”.

This particular location takes up a substantial amount of space on the block. Many of the workers at this location, and their location in Elmhurst are Ecuadorian natives like the residents of this part of Queens. Although there are many places along the avenue that offer similar services, Delgado Travel seems to be among the most trusted in the area.

Founded in 1976, its services originally consisted of organizing money transfers and travel to Latin America. It now offers this and more, including, tourism, Latin American newspapers and magazines, and radio and telephone services. So if you’re interested in going on a vacation in Latin America, you’d definitely love to check this spot out!
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El Canelazo Restaurante Ecuatoriano
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Feeling hungry? Don’t worry the next stop is El Canelazo Restaurante Ecuatoriano, a local restaurant known for its authentic Ecuadorian cuisine menu. To reach the restaurant from Delgado Travels you have two choices: you can go back and take a Manhattan bound 7 train to 82nd Street and walk to 80th Street or you can simply walk from 88th Street to 80th Street. Choose the latter if you want more cardio.

Ecuadorian cuisine is incredibly diverse as signature dishes varies across the country's three continental regions: the coast (Costa), mountains (Sierras), and the Orient (Amazons). Although dishes inevitably overlap between each geographic region and/or adjacent countries, the specialties of each region are heavily dependent on their natural surroundings and resources. Coastal areas are known for their Ceviche, a mix of raw seafood cured with lemon or citrus juices which may be seasoned with optional additional spices such as chili peppers, onions, and coriander while whereas more urban areas such as the city of Cuencas are famous for Cuy, guinea pig, a greasy delicacy cooked whole on a skewer.

Be adventurous and order a bold dish such as Librillo, cooked and diced cow stomach usually accompanied by rice which is popular in the mountainous regions or stick with classic, sure to please favorites such as Llapingachos, potato patties fried on a griddle with cheese often served as a side dish alongside chorizos, salads, or eggs. Don't forget to down the meal with Canelazo, an warm alcoholic drink made with anise flavored Aguardiente liquor with notes of lemon and cinnamon which is popular in the Sierra regions.
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Jackson Heights Roosevelt Ave Train Station

Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue Terminal

Next up is a major transit hub for residents in the area: the Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue subway terminal. To get to the subway terminal you once again have two choices: you can either walk down Roosevelt Avenue to the station or you can take the Manhattan bound 7 train to the station. Walk to keep your body nice and healthy!

The Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue station is the major location for residents of Queens. The station is vital stop for multiple buses such as the Q47, Q49 and Q70. The Q47 and the Q70 also both go to LaGuardia airport providing a shuttle type service for airline passengers. The bus terminal connects directly to the train station and provides an easy transfer from the buses to the trains. The 7, E, F, M and R trains are all joined together by a triangular half dome like structure, the main subway station. Ease of transfer and access to different subways makes it one of the most used stations in New York City. In 2012, the MTA ranked the Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue terminal as the 14th busiest station in the city.

The station would not have even existed a decade ago. Way back at the start of the 20th century, residents of Queens rode trolleys instead of trains. The trolleys would take passengers to Long Island City where ferries brought them to Manhattan. However the construction of the Queensboro bridge in 1909 changed the transportation of Queens residents forever. The new bridge resulted in the elevated 7 train that replaced the ferries and in turn lead to the rapid growth of the borough itself. Multiple immigrant groups settled along the 7 train route and can be seen to this day. Another train line for the E and F trains was later added for express services at the intersection of Roosevelt and Broadway. Local train service was provided by the R, V and G (V no longer exists and the G no longer goes to Roosevelt Avenue). In 1933 the opening of the municipal subway system extended train routes all the way to Jamaica, Queens further increasing growth and immigrant population expansion. The Spanish speaking immigrant population, in particular, have opened up businesses on Roosevelt Avenue extending all the way down to Citi Field. The Ecuadorians have settled down in the surrounding Jackson Heights area with their population bordering the Mexicans at Junction Boulevard. The station serves as a gateway to Manhattan for a majority of the immigrants who use mass transit.
The most recent changes to the station took place between 2003 and 2004. The station was in a state of disrepair from ages of use. Therefore the city prepared a new project to change the face of the station’s entrance at Roosevelt and 74th street. Other aspects of remodeling the station provided easier transfers. The Victor Moore bus terminal was included to make transfers between buses and trains easier. The 7 train stairwell was simplified and expanded to serve more passengers especially during rush hour. In 2005 the new station was completed and appears as seen above.
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Ecuadorian International Center (EIC)

37-47th Street, Jackson Heights NY 11372

EIC

This time we are moving away from the crowded main street of Jackson Heights and going to more residential areas. Starting from the train station move up Roosevelt Avenue to 76th Street. You can easily tell if you are on Roosevelt Avenue by the overhead 7 train bridge. On 76th Street move north two blocks and on the second block will be the Ecuadorian International Consulate

This nonprofit organization was established in 1999, which is pretty recent, and makes sense as well because the ecuadorians in this area have only recently established themselves. The programs here are developed to help the Spanish speaking immigrant community, not just the Ecuadorians, to learn how to adjust to life in the States and reach their full potential.

The center helps people with their immigration papers, the deportation system and also their passports. It’s recently been working with DACA- the “Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals”, which protects individuals from deportation and gives work permits to people who immigrated at the age of 15 years or younger. To further the well-being and progress of the Spanish immigrants, the center offers programs such as Employment Information and Training, English language and Training, Youth development, Cultural Activities, Public Health Education and Information and Referrals.

The center relies on volunteers to carry out the programs, as it has a very small staff. It has strong partnerships with local leaders, such as Radio Delgado, Elmhurst Hospital Center and other local businesses.

The organization is struggling under the burden of bureaucracy and lack of monetary aid. There is also a shortage of labor and feedback from the youth of the community. If anyone would like to volunteer or aid the organization in its efforts please contact EIC through its email: ecuadorianinternationalinc@yahoo.com or phone: (718) 651-8630.
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Robert Morris Apartments

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The next attractions are the Robert Morris Apartments on 37th Avenue, part of the many Garden Apartments in the vicinity, and just walking distance from Ecuadorian dominated area of Roosevelt Ave.  From the EIC walk up 76th Street to 37th Street, turn right and walk to 79th Street. You will pass a Starbucks Cafe and a US Postal office before reaching 79th Street. At 79th Street turn right and you’ll be facing the Robert Morris apartments.

The dark colored brick building you see before you is just one of the many garden apartments in the area. Dating back to the 1920’s, these apartments are clearly unlike others in the amount of green space located around the building. In regards to the interior, the appearance still reflects the time period of it's construction, with its high ceilings and fireplaces; needless to say, they are quite pricey to live in. Hawthorne Court, located a few blocks over on 76th street and 37th Ave, has a similar look, and inside the perimeters, the residents have beautified the space with walkways, park benches, and lots of greenery. These and other such apartments are part of the Jackson Heights Historic District, considered landmarks to the area.
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The Renaissance Charter School

Renaissance Charter School 35-59 81st Street, Jackson Heights
Renaissance Charter School
35-59 81st Street, Jackson Heights

The Renaissance Charter School, located on 81st street in Jackson Heights, in New York City's first K-12 public school. In 1993, the idea of the school was conceived by a group of fifteen parents and educators who called themselves the Committee of Concerned Educators. The school prides itself on building a "Renaissance" curriculum revolving around New York City, on building a curriculum that focused on the culture, geography, and history of New York.

In its first year, the school only comprised of grades 4-8 and shared a building with another school in Long Island City. In 1996, the school received its own building in Jackson Heights. In 2000, the school applied for and was granted its first charter.

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The Renaissance Charter School currently has 548 students, the majority of whom are considered minorities. The student body is indicative of the residents living in Jackson Heights. The student body is 54% Hispanic, 12% Black, 20% Asian, and 13% White. 76% of its students receive free or reduced lunch.

Being a school that prides itself on its diversity, it offers a great variety of special programs for the student body. TREA, Teens for Racial and Ethnic Awakening, was founded after 9/11 to teach students how to navigate in a culturally diverse city. In addition, the middle school initiative was started in 2005, which offers after school tutoring and activities for middle schoolers. Renaissance Charter takes pride in the fact that 93-100% of their graduating seniors get accepted into college, with almost all of them choosing to go. This is significant in the Hispanic community specifically, because a higher education usually leads to better jobs, which are harder to come by since the economy of Ecuador took a downturn after the recession.
Current students of the Renaissance School

The Renaissance Charter School is very much integrated into the lives of the residents of Jackson Heights; it serves a large Hispanic community, as the majority of the school's students are Hispanic. Not only does the school offer a intimate learning experience in a large city like New York for its students, it also gives parents the chance to give back to the community. Parents enjoy contributing as much as they can to the school; In fact, a mural of Central Park was painted in its recess area by a parent. The Renaissance Charter School is an anchor of Jackson Heights; it offers a great education to children and accurately represents the city it resides in.
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Community Methodist Church
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For a place of local worship, the Community Methodist Church serves the area’s Christians. The church is just up 81st Street towards 35th Avenue. Even if you are not a Christian the church performs many community events so be sure to drop by.

Founded shortly before the Great Depression, the Community United Methodist Church strives to unite and bridge together the ethnically and culturally diverse Jackson Heights population; its mission is evident in its services which is conducted in a wide array of languages ranging from Spanish and Chinese to English and Hindi. The church has 3 separate established ministries (Chinese, Spanish, and Korean) with their own respective reverends and service schedules (although, occasionally conjunct services are held). Its lengthy and illustrious history even as many surrounding churches have closed down is a testament to its role and importance in the community.

The church also reaches out to the community by offering academic programs such as successful after school, summer programs, ESL classes, bible study groups, and pre-K programs targeting the area's youth. The church also accommodates weddings, concerts, and luncheons in addition to hosting charity events to fundraise for victims of natural disasters.Through these programs and services, the church aims to create a cohesive community connected by the common thread of faith.
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Travers Park
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Finally, we’re going to the fresh open spaces of Travers Park. Walking north pass the church on 81st Street, continue on till you reach the double lane 34th Avenue. At 34th turn left and walk down the avenue until you reach 78th Street. There you will see Travers Park.

This park was established in 1949 by the City of New York and was named after Jackson heights community leader Thomas J. Travers. Today, it is surrounded by the Spanish speaking community, With Ecuadorians being a majority.

The park features play equipment for younger children and a variety of athletic facilities for shuffleboard, softball, basketball, volleyball, paddle tennis, and handball. However, the park doesn’t have many patches of green grass.

In 1995, the park was reconstructed and was dramatically transformed with new spray showers , tress, benches picnic and game tables , security lightings, refurbished basketball courts and repaved hockey courts. Since it serves a neighborhood which has people from so many different cultures, we can safely say that it also serves in bringing them together. The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by three generations of the Travers family: Thomas J. Travers Jr., Thomas J. Travers 3rd, and two-year-old Thomas J. travers the 4th.

Take your time enjoying and relaxing in the park because even though the tour is over you have to walk all the way back to Roosevelt Avenue to get to the train station.

Thank you for traveling with us! Credits to the following people, this walking tour would not be possible without them!

  • Ann Jose
  • Jamie Liang
  • Lisa Ng
  • Sabeena Ramnanan
  • Thomas Saw Aung

Ecuadorians in Jackson Heights:

An Annotated Bibliography

 

Community U.M.C. “History”  Community United Methodist Church.  NYC, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. <http://onechurchnyc.com/history/>.

The Community Church website which has individual pages in different languages catering to its various ethnic groups is a good resource which details the church’s illustrious history and promotes the main mission of the church–to unify the diverse neighborhood of Jackson Heights through faith. The website also announces upcoming events from prayer services to charity fundraising functions color coded according to the language pertinent to the cultural group to which the event is aimed. In addition there are listings the Chinese, English, and Spanish schedules for each respective service.

CUNY Honors Scholar Program. “JACKSON HEIGHTS: HISTORY.” JACKSON HEIGHTS: HISTORY. Jackson Heights Group of the CUNY Honors Scholars Program, 2004. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://macaulay.cuny.edu/student-projects/neighborhoods/jackson_heights/hist_transportation.html>.

The work of previous Macaulay Honors students is the best source possible for cultural studies. Especially since students with the same assignment in the past provide accurate facts in a clear manner. In this case, the student neighborhood website project provides a detailed history of the transportation for Jackson Heights residents. Starting from the early use of trolleys to the development of train extensions, the site continues on until around 2000. At the end of the article the MTA plans to renovate the Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue station to make transferring between the buses and trains easier. This renovation was completed later on in 2005, therefore the site is not up to date on the more recent improvements of the station. Regardless, the site does give a thorough history of the transit system of Jackson Heights.

Brown, Ann and Eileen Pattern. “Hispanics of Ecuadorian Origin in the United States, 2011.” Pew Research Centers Hispanic Trends Project RSS. Pew Research Center, 26 May 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.<http://www.pewhispanic.org/2011/05/26/hispanics-of-ecuadorian-origin-in-the-united-states-2011/>.

The Pew Research Center is a fact tank that informs the public on issues, statistics, trends etc., and has a Hispanic Project as part of their page. In going through the category, there are a lot of statistics, charts, and articles that touch on topics related to Hispanics in the United States. “The Hispanics of Ecuadorian Origin in the United States, 2011” offers both a broad look on the population of Ecuadorians in the United States and also narrows down a bit, mentioning their prominence in New York as well. For example, it is mentions that “65% of Ecuadorians in the U.S. are foreign born”, and about “38% of Ecuadorian immigrants are U.S. citizens”. Also, 64% of Ecuadorians live in the Northeast, and “41% live in New York”.

EIC Inc. “Ecuadorian International Center, Inc.” Ecuadorian International Center, Inc. EIC NYC, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.eicnyc.org/>.

This site is our best source of information about the Consular Agency of Ecuador. It lists the various services that the Centre provides, including but not limited to: English classes, Youth and Development Programs, Cultural Activities, Public Health Education, deportation and passport issues, etc. The Ecuadorians take good advantage of the services that the centre provides and is therefore a very good organization for the further development of the society.

Kasinitz, Philip, Mohamad Bazzi, and Randal Doane. “Chapter 8: Jackson Heights, New York.” 4.2 (1998): 16. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. <http://www.luc.edu/curl/projects/past/documents/cityscpe/vol4num2/ch8.pdf>.

This article is quite informative in terms of the history of Jackson Heights. It provides statistics from 1960, 1970, and 1990 to show how the demographics of the area has changed between those years and how living in that area changed as well. The article states that in 1960, the area was 98.5% White, in 1970 is was 87.4% White, and by the 1990’s it was 39.8% White, 41.3% Hispanic, and 16% Asian and other. It also provides specific cross-streets so one knows exactly what parts of Jackson Heights they are discussing and see the facts discussed firsthand.

Miyares, Ines M. “From Exclusionary Covenant To Ethnic Hyperdiversity In Jackson Heights, Queens.” Geographical Review 94.4 (2004): 479. Web. 29 Mar. 2014

This article goes into depth about the history of Jackson Heights and its gradual progression towards becoming one of the most commercially diverse places in the country. The development of the community, the housing plans, the garden city developments, and the ethnic transformation are all talked about in detail, which range from the establishment of Jackson Heights to the recent years. The development of churches, along with the The Community Methodist Church which is included in our walking tour is talked about in this article. We are informed that the church was first built to serve the spiritual needs of non-hispanic white Protestant population, but gradually opened its doors to the Hispanic people as well. The author also talks about the Ecuadorian company “The Delgado Travel Agency”, which is one of the largest travel agencies, and which has expanded and opened up offices in several parts of the New York City; as well as the “Casa de Cambio”which facilitates currency exchange for resident and visitors.

Miyares, Ines M. “Recreating Borders? The Geography of Latin Americans in New York City.” Yearbook. Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers 24 (1998): 31-43. JSTOR. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.

This journal focuses on the general immigration of Latin Americans to New York City. The study focuses on the real estate aspects of Hispanic groups as well as the social interactions between the groups. Ecuadorians are often mentioned together with Peruvians and Colombians with only statistical facts in the diagrams and charts separating them into individual groups. However, the journal hints at certain prejudices among different nationalities such as a combine distaste for Mexicans and low class Hispanics. While the source is pretty old and maybe outdated, overall the source does provide a broad study of Latin American immigration.

Mumford, Jeremy. “Countries and Their Cultures.” Ecuadorian Americans. Countries and Their Cultures, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. <http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Du-Ha/Ecuadoran-Americans.html>.

This website contains the history of Ecuadorian immigration to US as a whole. However, it does mention New York specifically, referencing the fact that “60 percent of Ecuadorian immigrants lived in NYC”, according to 1990 census data. Sub headings in this article include: History, Geography, Acculturation and Assimilation, Cuisine, and more. In addition,  all sources are cited and contact information for various Ecuadorian related groups in New York City are listed, such as Comite Civico Ecuatoriana, which is actually located in Jackson Heights.

Queens Gazette. “Officials Applaud Opening Of Renovated Bus Terminal.” Queens Gazette – It’s In Queens. Queens Gazette, 20 July 2005. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.qgazette.com/news/2005-07-20/features/045.html>.

This newspaper feature describes the opening of the new Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue station. While the entire station was getting renovated, this feature story focuses on the visible changes on the exterior of the station, the most important of which is the new bus terminal. The benefits of the new terminal: ease of transfer and handicap accessibility will decrease passenger travel time, a benefit to all. This article focuses on a specific moment of the subway station’s history that is visible today.

Sanjek, Roger. “Color Full  Before Color Blind: The Emergence of Multiracial Neighborhood Politics in Queens, New York City.” American Anthropologist, New Series. American Anthropological Association (2000): 762-772. JSTOR. Web. 1 April. 2014.

The article traces the “majority minority” phenomenon in the United States with the white majority becomes increasingly less influential as population of those with European ancestry is projected to fall below the 50% margin. The author, through  ethnographic fieldwork, focuses especially on the Corona-Elmhurst-Jackson Heights neighborhoods which were notably 98% white in 1960 but progressively became more ethnic and multi-racial as it approached 1990 with the arrival of the Chinese, Latin Americans, and African Americans. The article dedicates paragraphs to this change and the gradual takeover of each individual culture and their mark on the neighborhoods.

Santos, Fernanda. “Consulate for Ecuadorians Reaches Where They Live.” New York Times 21 September 2008: B3. Print.

The article announces the grand opening of the new branch of the Ecuadorian consulate which moved to the Jackson Heights neighborhood where the largest enclave of Ecuadorians reside–more Ecuadorians live in this area than immigrants from any other Latin American country. The consulates unusual schedule (It operates from Sunday to Wednesday) is aimed to accommodate the schedules of those who may seek the services offered. Representatives hope that by removing the imposing, intimidating security guards, unnecessary elevators rides and ID checking, and the elimination of a lengthy subway ride to Manhattan, the Ecuadorian consulate can be of more service and more accessible to their target audience.

Silverstein, Andrew. “Ecuadorians In NYC Mull A Migration Home; Ecuadorian Immigrants Living in New York Weigh Incentives to Return Home amid the City’s Economic Downturn.” City Limits [New York City] 29 June 2009: n. pag. Print.

In prior research, we found that during the economic downturn, immigrants from Ecuador actually returned to Ecuador because there were few jobs available in New York City. In this article, the pros and the cons of return migration to Ecuador are weighed. Although it may be hard for illegal immigrants to find work and money in the US, conditions are worse in Ecuador, where the economy has weakened. However, in the US, immigrants are away from their families. Although some want to return, it is not feasible because they do not have the necessary funds. Through this article, I am able to gain insight into one of the many struggles Ecuadorian immigrants face. In addition, City Limits is a non-profit newspaper based in New York City that focuses investigate reports on urban life, which will give us an insight about the lives of not only Ecuadorians, but all those who live in Jackson Heights.

The City of New York. “Travers Park.” Highlights : NYC Parks. The City of New York, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/traverspark/history>.

This NYC Parks website is a very good source of information about Travers Park and its history as well as its present day influence on the community of Jackson Heights. The transformation that the park underwent in recent years is documented in detail through this website. For Example: new spray showers, trees, benches, picnic and game tables, security lighting, and play equipment for tots and older children were added. The facilities are a good method of bringing the neighboring communities together, including the Ecuadorians, the Indians, as well as the of the HIspanic community since they all live in this neighborhood and are likely to use the park’s facilities.

Trapasso, Clare. “Assemblyman Francisco Moya Organizes Ecuadorian Celebration to Honor Ecuadorian Heritage Month .” NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 08 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/festival-celebrates-ecuadorian-americans-article-1.1421752#ixzz306CEjACI>.

The article only briefly discussed how Ecuadorian heritage month was celebrated last year, with not as many photos, or details as I expected. The celebration occurred at the New York Hall of Science with South American food and dances, “awards to prominent Ecuadorian-Americans. It mentioned the appearance of “Fátima Ptacek, the voice of “Dora the Explorer,” and Susana Cortazar, of the Ecuadorian Consulate in Queens”. Interestingly, the event was put together by the U.S.’s first Ecuadorian-American democrat to be in office, Assemblyman Francisco Moya.  Despite the article’s brief description on the event, it was still a helpful source as I was completely unaware that there was an Ecuadorian History month, or that it was held at the popular New York Hall of Science in  Queens.

Viteri, Maria Amelia. “Nostalgia, Food and Belonging: Ecuadorians in New York City.” Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.<https://www.academia.edu/1421226/Nostalgia_food_and_belonging_Ecuadorians_in_New_York_City>.

This article focuses on the availability of Ecuadorian food and how it relates to nostalgia in the Ecuadorian community, specifically in Queens. In addition, interviews of various Ecuadorian men are included as case studies. According to the Ecuadorian Consulate, the Ecuadorian community in NYC is fluid, and its precise population is unknown, because most immigrants are illegal. With this constant motion, immigrants usually look for staples that remind them of home, such as Zhumir, which is an alcoholic substance that can be used for almost anything in Ecuadorian culture. One man, Roberto, eloquently states there are three types of Ecuadorians: those who assimilate easily, those who can assimilate but with difficulty, and those who cannot assimilate for various reasons. The ones who cannot assimilate seek to find comfort in Ecuadorian food and drink. Since food and language are what makes a culture unique, many people find their roots in their food. This article was enlightening; not only does it reveal quite a lot about Ecuadorian life in NYC, it also reveals a lot about how people in general relate to their cultures in regard to food.