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Collection Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting

The Cultural Context

The 21st Avenue section is culturally diverse, but may be divided into two main categories: (1) European Americans, many of whom are Italian Americans; and (2) Hispanics. There are also some black-owned businesses along the avenue (a laundromat, a beauty salon, a bar), and some Chinese-owned restaurants. Blacks do not have a significant presence on the avenue or in the surrounding neighborhoods. There is a highly visible and apparently significant Hispanic presence in the surrounding residential area, extending on either side of 21st Avenue from Main Street in the west to McLean Boulevard in the east, though as one heads east the cultural configuration of the neighborhoods is increasingly diverse.

Looking across 21st Avenue from Mari's Hair People towards Tierras Colombianas restaurant and People's Park Hardware.

Spanish-speaking people and their neighborhoods are a strikingly evident feature of contemporary Paterson. Long-time residents and business people characterized the recent history of the 21st Avenue area in terms of transformation: the place is undergoing a transition from European-American cultural dominance to Hispanic cultural dominance. This has interesting implications for much of the "work" that is conducted along the avenue.

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John Granata: "Storewise, Madison Avenue becomes your separation."

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