"Little Italy"

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Tue Dec 4 16:03:44 UTC 2001

Merriam-Webster's earliest cite for "Little Italy" doesn't go quite as
far back as the 1890s, but it comes pretty close.  This one refers
to the NYC neighborhood:

When at last the heavy wagons start to leave the pier and the
"specked" potatoes are turned out on the boards these Italians
squat about the gift, draw out from somewhere long, sharp knives
ground at the sidewalk mills of "Little Italy," and begin to slash, cut
and peel.  Such are their manners -- long years of training have
developed an ideal etiquette for these occasions -- that they make
no rude grabs for the largest and best speciments, but take the
poor and the less poor as they come, all the time preserving that
silence which the women of Mulberry-st. [sic] deem the height of
good taste at gatherings like these.

N.J. Trib. Sup.
Feb. 11, 1900

Here's our earliest for the generic use:

In the mews round about the Potteries are the remnants of the
Italian colony that drifted here some years ago, when Little Italy in
Clerkenwell began to be encroached upon by the modern builder.

The Strand
No. 161 (1909)
Page 549

Joanne Despres

More information about the Ads-l mailing list