Little Italy Immigration History Tour

Hard-working Immigrants often over-shadowed by the Mafia’s criminal reputation
From US$337 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral
  • Little Italy
  • New York City Police Headquarters
Photos & Highlights
  • Exploring the historical context of Little Italy’s Italian-American community
  • Led by an Urban Historian or an expert on American Migration
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Tour Description
With nearly two million residents of Italian descent, New York is the largest capital for Italian Americans in the United States. Italians helped shape the city of New York on many levels – impacting local politics, cultural arts, labor laws, and of course cuisine. NYC landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central terminal were created by the dedicated efforts of Italian immigrants. 

However, as so many American newcomers did, Italians faced discrimination and banded together into cultural clubs and organizations.  From these groups grew the “Casa Nostra” crime ring, which we know today as the Italian Mafia. Our tour will contextualize the story of how this small group came to dominate the stereotypical idea of Italian-American culture. 

Tour Itinerary

Our journey begins from the Basilica of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral – a landmark that has witnessed so many incredible moments of Italian-American culture since its inception. Together we'll stroll deeper into Little Italy as we bring to light stories of the nation's first Italian immigrants and the Tenement buildings where they were housed. 

We'll encounter several of the city's oldest and most famous restaurants, which have housed their fair shares of family dinners and business meetings over the centuries. We'll discover the favored hangouts and haunts of the alleged mafia members – cross-referencing many documentaries and famous photographs which have been taken in this neighborhood. 

The Italian-American influence on the nation's early history is critical to understand in its original context. As we stroll along Mulberry and Mott Streets, we'll be able to retrace the footsteps of several key players in the battle for immigrant's rights and fair treatment under the law. As we view the 14th Ward Industrial School, we'll consider the fight for public education as well. Together we'll also pause at the exterior of the former New York Police headquarters–where many members of the mafia have been held overnight. 

Our tour concludes at the former Lupo Grocery Store – a popular social spot and market for the neighborhood –as we discuss its storied relationship with the famous Spaghetti Restaurant across the way, which belonged to Giuseppe “The Clutch Hand” Morello. 


What if it rains? 
In New York, we experience all climates. This tour will run in the rain, snow, and unfavorable weather. Dress appropriately as most of the tour and tastings are spent outside.

Can we do this tour without walking? 
This is a walking-only tour. Please expect to cover 1 mile more or less and have comfortable shoes on.

Can I learn more about the Italian Mafia before I go?
Yes, Context offer's several online learning seminars all about Italian history and culture. For additional details, click here. 

Where You'll Start
(4.4) 6 Reviews

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There was a little information at the beginning of the tour about the Mafia which was informative. However, the second half of the tour was mainly walking through without too much information. In fact the last hour was almost walking with no information at all. In the past we have found they Context Tour guides are exceptionally knowledgable. This tour was not as detailed as the tour guide at the Meteopolitan Museum. This is as our last tour with you
Absolutely fine. Not outstanding, lacking a bit of detail here and there, probably better off for 90 minutes than three hours. But fine really
We enjoyed the tour content—making the connection between Italian immigration and the mafia. Michelle is an excellent guide as she makes the history come alive!