Strangers in the West: The Syrian Colony of New York City, 1880-1900 by Linda K Jacobs
Strangers in the West is the never-before-told story of the Arab immigrants who settled in New York City, beginning in 1880. They came primarily from what was then known as "Greater Syria," and settled in tenements on the lower west side of Manhattan, founding an Arabic-speaking enclave just south of the future site of the World Trade Center. Arriving in the New World with little more than their resourcefulness and business acumen, these immigrants quickly built a thriving "colony" that was the cultural and economic center of the Syrian diaspora in America.
Dr. Jacobs paints a vivid portrait of life in this early immigrant community, and the people who founded it. They were peddlers and merchants, midwives and doctors, priests and journalists, performers and impresarios. They capitalized on the orientalist craze sweeping the United States by opening Turkish smoking parlors, presenting belly dancers on vaudeville stages, and performing across the country in native costume. They learned English, built businesses, and became an important thread in the rich tapestry of the immigrant culture of 19th century New York. This is their story.
Strangers In the West is the first and only comprehensive study of America's most important Syrian colony. Through exhaustive archival and demographic research, Dr. Jacobs has captured the identities of virtually every member of this 19th century community. In doing so, she has created an invaluable resource for historians, scholars, and others interested in the history of Arabs in America.