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WE ARE STATEN ISLAND: Surprising Ethnic Diversity

When people think of Staten Island, they tend to assume the borough is a predominantly white, homogeneous community that holds little diversity.

Contrary to this popular image, we discovered that Staten Island is a mosaic of jagged pieces that fit together to create a harmonious fusion of cultures.

We Are Staten Island

We are Indian, Jewish, Italian, Armenian, Russian....

Where We Started

"What's Wrong With This Picture?"; Page 38 of New York Department of City Planning, The Newest New Yorkers, 2000 (

In January 2010, Joseph J. Salvo, a demographer with New York's Office of City Planning, gave a presentation about the peopling of New York City to the students of Macaulay Honors College. He presented map after map showing patterns of settlement of ethnic communities in the city; and on almost every map, there was no mark for an ethnic community located on Staten Island.

Immediately, we noticed Staten Island's lack of representation in the data. As map after map flashed onto the screen, we, as Macaulay CSI students and Staten Island residents, became increasingly distressed; the graphs and charts gave members of the other colleges the impression that our borough houses a homogenous (white, European) population.

While Staten Island is not a cultural hot spot like Jackson Heights or Williamsburg, we are not as uniform as Salvo's presentation and common misconceptions lead people to believe. Just looking around our classroom, we represent various nations and ethnicities of the world.

We wondered: how can we change the misleading perception others have of Staten Island?

What We Did

Together, we researched the various cultural populations of New York City. Upon examining certain cultural communities by borough, we discovered that Staten Island did lack in concentration of certain ethnic groups when compared to the other four boroughs. However, we also found that Staten Island features thriving cultural communities in denser patterns of settlement than in other areas of the city.

Indeed, Staten Island is a mosaic of cultures in and of itself, and we've set out to show the world the rich cultures and communities it offers.