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Cultural Neighborhoods of New England

Cultural Neighborhoods of New England
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From Armenian and Italian to Polish and Portuguese, New England is home to a variety of cultural neighborhoods.

modern pastry north end
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Modern Pastry in Boston’s Italian North End.

POLISH, Broad Street, New Britain, CT
Within just a few blocks, you can eat lunch, shop for groceries, buy a loaf of bread, consult a lawyer, get a haircut, and do your banking, all in Polish. A large settlement since 1890, this community hosts weekly picnics with live Polish music at Polanka-Falcon Field, plus an annual harvest festival of food and crafts.

CARIBBEAN, Albany Avenue (Route 44), Hartford, CT
Bakeries, markets, and take-out eateries with Jamaican and West Indian food are plentiful and fascinating: goat-head or chicken-foot soup; peanut or banana porridge; jerk pork or chicken; sorrel juice or peanut punch; ginger tea or coconut cookies.

ARMENIAN, Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA
Several sprawling Armenian markets compete along a three-block strip that also includes Middle Eastern eateries. You’ll find house-made versions of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, babaganoush, and many other cold salads and spreads, plus many kinds of feta and string cheeses, and several varieties of cookies.

ITALIAN, Federal Hill, Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI
One of the most densely populated Italian neighborhoods in the country in the early 20th century, Federal Hill is still dominated by Italian markets, delis, bakeries, and restaurants. In warm months, De Pasquale Square has outdoor tables and flowers everywhere–even a large European-style fountain and opera concerts.

ITALIAN. North End, Hanover and Salem Streets, Boston, MA
More than 75 Italian eateries, bakeries, and markets cluster along these two byways and their smaller cross streets. From cafes to gelaterias, family restaurants to upscale dining, choices for Italian cuisine are unlimited.

PORTUGUESE, Columbia Street Cultural District, Fall River, MA
Revitalized over the past three decades, this enclave is home to Portuguese grocery stores, bakeries, markets, cafes, and restaurants, with fado music on the weekends. Nearby are Santo Cristo Square, St. Anne Shrine, and Kennedy Park, where the Great Feast of the Holy Ghost of New England celebrates Azorean culture each August.

CHINESE, Chinatown, Beach Street, Boston, MA
You enter Beach Street, gateway to the largest settlement of Chinese in New England, through an impressive green-topped portal. Stepping through it, you’re surrounded by bakeries, dumpling houses, dim sum eateries, curio shops, and cafes. Take home some colorful pastries or linger over soup and noodles. Many restaurants also offer Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai food.

View a list of popular ethnic heritage festivals around New England.

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Updated Monday, April 20th, 2009

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