Colombia

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The corner of 82nd Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, which has one of the most highly concentrated Colombian populations, was nicknamed "Calle Colombia," or Colombia Street because of the variety of Colombian restaurants and stores that extend in all directions.

The corner of 82nd Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, which has one of the most highly concentrated Colombian populations, was nicknamed "Calle Colombia," or Colombia Street because of the variety of Colombian restaurants and stores that extend in all directions.

Population 80,985 people living in New York City were born in Colombia
Source: 2006 American Community Survey
Neighborhoods Jackson Heights: 11,420
Elmhurst: 8,992
Source: “The Newest New Yorkers Briefing Booklet” (2000), http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/nny_briefing_booklet.pdf
Religion(s) Catholic
Language(s) Spanish
History
Social and political factors are the driving forces behind Colombian immigration trends. Colombians fleeing the bloody civil war of the 1950s called “La Violencia” ignited the initial wave of migration in the 1950s that turned Jackson Heights in what was called “Little Bogota.” Through the 1990s (and the primary reason for the 76 percent jump in population between 1980 and 1990) the social unrest in Colombia drove many to a safer place to live, New York City. Also, the influx in Colombians was also in part due to the amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act. The law favored refugees and those seeking asylum, and many cases Colombians qualified. Sources: “Nueva York: The Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs” by Carolina Gonzalez and Seth Kugel, and “Latinos in New York: Communities in Transition,” Edited by Gabriel Haslip-Viera and Sherrie L. Baver

Population Facts:

  • The sex ratio for Colombians, 75 males to 100 females, is slightly lower than the average of 90 males but significantly lower than 18 of the top 20 foreign born groups. Source: “The Newest New Yorkers Briefing Booklet” (2000), http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/nny_briefing_booklet.pdf
  • The 42.3 percent of married households skews slightly to the lower end among foreign groups (avg is 48.2 percent) and the number of female head households, no spouse, at 24.3 percent is higher than most averages (18.7 percent for all foreign born). Source: “The Newest New Yorkers Briefing Booklet” (2000), http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/nny_briefing_booklet.pdf
  • At 34.9 percent of households overcrowded, it is 7th among the top 20 foreign born groups. Colombians are the fourth lowest (and lowest among Hispanic countries) of births to foreign mothers. Source: “The Newest New Yorkers Briefing Booklet” (2000), http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/nny_briefing_booklet.pdf

Fun Facts:

  • Portions of the Oscar-nominated film “Maria Full of Grace” was filmed in Jackson Heights, and several of the community members were cast in the movie. The movie is about a young Colombian woman becomes a drug mule to escape poverty. She swallows cocaine pouches and smuggles them into the U.S. via John F. Kennedy International Airport. Source: “Nueva York: The Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs” by Carolina Gonzalez and Seth Kugel.
  • It is a New Year’s tradition to buy yellow underwear at the end of the year, and on Dec. 31, take a shower in the morning and put on a pair of yellow underwear inside out. At midnight, the tradition calls for you to go to the bathroom and put them on again the right side out. According to Mayo de la Rosa, owner of one of the biggest Colombian lingerie shops in Jackson Heights, her shops turns yellow with panties to meet the demand at the end of the year.
  • The TV show Ugly Betty, about an awkward Latina executive assistant from Jackson Heights, was originally adapted from a Colombian telenovela called Betty La Fea.