If you have any questions about Italian genealogy, Italian vital records, Italian East Harlem, or the history of Italian immigration to New York City, just ask me! If I can help, It would be my pleasure!

184 Comments on “ASK ANGELA”

  1. mariel marrano says:

    Hi Angela,
    My name is Mariel Marrano. My grandparents grew up in East Harlem and my grandfather owned a Mens clothing store in East Harlem for 17 yrs. I t was called Vito’s Mens Shop. The first address was 2393 first ave and he was there for 1yr in 1948 then he moved to 2314 first ave and was there from 1949-1966. He then moved the store to the Pelham bay section of the Bronx where is still is open. I have been looking online to see if there are any pictures of the stores in Harlem online but I have not been able to find any. I was wondering if you knew where I could find a picture of the part of first ave to see if I can catch a glimpse of the store back then . Do you have any idea where I might find a picture?
    Thank you so much for your time

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Mariel,
      Of course I know Vito’s Mens Shop. My dad, Albert, and your dad, Vito, were childhood friends! Your dad worked for my great-grandmother, Teresina, in her 2nd hand shop, on East 110th Street. I don’t have a photo of your dad’s shop, but perhaps, someone who visits my website and reads this message, will have a photo to share with us. The NYC tax photos would be a great source to find a photo of the building, but these photos were taken circa 1939-1941, which was before Vito opened his shop. I will put out a request for photos with my Italian Harlem contacts, with the hope that someone has a photo to share! How is your dad? I’ve been meaning to go to the shop to visit, but time keep passing me by! My dad passed away(a buon anima) on the 15th of January, 2013. Yesterday was his 1st anniversary. So sad, as he was such a special person-so vibrant and full of optimism and life! I’m the youngest of his 5 children. I have recorded his recollections from the days of his youth in East Harlem. So many memories! Dad and his brothers were regular customers of Vito’s menshop, as was I, and the rest of my family. I recall many occasions when I bought my dad gifts from Vito’s. Especially the Kangol hats! He loved them. I have 3 of them, which I am saving as a memento of my dad for my 3 children. I think of him every day-almost every moment. He missed his 89th birthday by 3 days! He often said that he was going to live to 110! In fact, the day the ambulance took him to Einstein Hospital was the 10th of January-110!
      Mariel, I will keep an eye out for photos of 1st Avenue, within the area where your dad had the store. I will be in touch!
      My very best regards,
      Angela Puco

      • Phyllis Viar says:

        Hi Angela,
        I am responding for my husband. His name is Amado Viar, who came from East Harlem. He is the youngest of 6. He wanted to mention that his brother Albert worked at Vito’s on 2 nd Ave, don’t know what years, and his brother Alfred and his wife Marie were good friends of Vito. We don’t have any pictures, sorry. We even visited Vito in his Bronx store, when Alfred & Marie were visiting from Texas. Sad to say my husband is the last of the Viar brothers left.
        Amado Viar

  2. Joe Bove says:

    Hi Angela, I’ve once again renewed my search of family history, using mostly family remembrances and sites like Ellis Island Records and Ancestry but have not had much luck in finding immigration records, not to mention the difficulty in finding marriage and birth records from Italy. Any advice or help in these areas would be greatly appreciated. Loved the site and the photos; was looking for a picture of my grandfather’s barber shop. We lived on 119th Street between 1st and Pleasant Avenue ( I think your dig took place on Paladino Avenue,
    if I’m not mistaken. Best, Joe

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Joe,
      You mentioned that you were having difficulty in researching your families immigration records. Give me the surnames, first names, and the town where they once lived in Italy. Any information that you feel is important to the search, such as their parents first names, mother’s maiden name, spouse’s first and maiden name, date of birth,occupation. I am confident that I can help you out, if I had this information at hand.
      Thanks for reaching out!
      Best regards,

  3. Fred Bisogno says:

    Angela….. I am trying to find info (ie ,newspaper articles) regarding an uncle who was run over and killed in 1923 at east 109 st and 2nd ave. I have gotten a death certificate from the archives but have been unable to find a newspaper articles. Tried Italian papers such il Progresso but since they are not published and old copies difficult to find. Any ideas.? Also grandparents owned an Italian bakery possibly on 114 st or on 109 st. Anyway to check business records to find some info. Thanks for any advice.

    • Angela Bella says:

      I’ll look into this for you. I’ll be in touch.

    • Angela Bella says:

      Give me your uncle’s first and last name, who was killed in 1923. I also lost a great aunt, who was only 10 years old when she was hit by a car, in 1925. Give me the date of death as well. Also, give me the first and last name of your grandparents, who owned a bakery in East Harlem. Approximately which years did they own this bakery? My great grandfather owned an Italian Bakery on Pleasant Avenue, back in the day. Their photo is on my webpage.
      Get back to me with that info, and I will be happy to look into it for you.

      • Fred Bisogno says:

        Hi Angela…. I wrote the above post to you in 2014 and due to some unforeseen circumstances never got back to you. I hope it’s not to late. I have some info that you requested. My uncles name was Mateo Bisogno, he was 4 years old when he was killed by an auto at the intersection of East 109 St and 2nd Ave. This was on May 16,1924.
        My grandparents Nicola and Anna Bisogno were living at 323 East 109 st . Nicola was a baker and owned a bakery on East 109 st. I have discovered that there was a bakery and horse barn at 318 Eas 109 st.,which would be across the street from their residence. This bakery was once owned by the infamous Gesue Gallucci who was dubbed the “King of East Harlem”. He and his son were gunned down and killed at 336 east 109 St. I am interested to know if my grandfather purchased this bakery from the Gallucci family. After Matteo was killed the family moved to the Bronx where they opened a bakery on Unionport Rd. The bakery under another owner is still there and baking bread. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
        Thank you for all the help that you give.

      • Angela Bella says:

        No worries, Fred. As soon as I have a chance, I will look into this, and get back to you with a response. Thanks for reaching out!

        Best regards,

  4. Ida McKeown says:

    Hi Angela,

    I’m 2nd generation Italian, too. My grandfather was from Atella, Italy. My family(Acolia, Sacco, Maddalena, Salvitore, DiMuro) lived on 2164 Second Avenue in !900. They immigrated around 1887and moved to Trenton, NJ. I’m trying to find their church to see if I can locate their marriage certificate. Any ideas?

    Thank you,

  5. Joe Bove says:

    Hi Angela,
    Thanks for offering to help in my genealogy search. My maternal grandfather’s name was Arcangelo (only Angelo shows up on later bits of information) Fucci and he may have made more than one trip to America. My best guess is 1899 for his last crossing. He came from Arpaia, Italy, as did his brother Domenico and sister Angela Maria (married name, Esposito) and was a barber by trade. His birth date was June 17, 1876-77. His mother’s name may have been Rosa. He may have resided at 1892 2nd Avenue and 99th Street around the turn of the century. My maternal grandmother, Marianna or just Anna DeSimone, came to this country around 1901 with her daughter Rosa who would have been around 4years old. She was from the city of Naples, not it’s surrounding areas. She was born on May 7, 1876-77, in Naples were she may have worked as a seamstress. I believe her father’s name was Rocco and her mother’s, Maddalena.
    What with all the vagaries of name spelling and hand writing, I’ve had no luck finding them on any ship manifests. I faxed a letter to the mayor of Arpaia, whose last name was Fucci, asking for advice on researching the family background in Italy but never received a reply. Any and all help or advice would be appreciated.
    Just recently learned from one of my cousins about a documentary entitled “Pleasant Days” which is about East Harlem. Have you heard of it?

    Once again, thanks for your offer of help.

    Kind regards,

    • Angela Bella says:

      Yes, Joe. I have heard of “Pleasant Days.” :-)In fact, I am the historical consultant for the movie. When this film is released, you will see me being interviewed about immigration history. Joe Mileto produced and directed it. I am hopeful that this film will be seen by the public, in the very near future. It’s a wonderful documentary about our old neighborhood. I know you will enjoy it!

      Best wishes,

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Joe,
      I’ve researched the Ellis Island files, and this is what I’ve found. Your grandfather, Angelo,arrived in New York on May 16th,1900. His ship was named the S.S. Victoria. It was built in 1872 and was run by Anchor Line. It was scrapped in 1905, so your grandfather traveled on an old ship. This wasn’t his first trip to America. According to the manifest, his first trip was in 1890. While traveling in 1900,it took him 22 days to get from Naples to New York. He was traveling with many sailors, so my guess would be that the ship made a few stops along the way before it sailed for New York- across the Atlantic. I found some photos of the ship, and I managed to copy a part of his manifest for you to see. Please email me at so that I can send you what I found. I also found the rest of the family members that you mentioned in your original message to me. Email me!

  6. Rosemarie Cuomo says:

    Hi Angela,
    I lived in harlem till 1969. I recently found out some information that I can’t research. I’m at a dead end. My mother had a child before she married my father. Both parents are deceased now, but I would like to know if I still have a half brother or sister or is it a dead end.
    Rosemarie C.

  7. Joe Carozza says:

    Angela, I’m doing a book on great iconic restaurants of NYC and Rao’s gets a large part of the coverage. I’m good friends with Frank and Ron and am in the process of getting info from their recollections.Unfortunately they only go back to the 50’s. I’ve pieced together info on the early years and wonder if you have any old photos of Inside Rao’s (or even outside) from 1900-1950. Sample menus and clippings or advertisements would also help.

    • john carozza says:

      I was just browsing thru the various messages from 2014,
      I know I am a little late this being 2016, but my name is
      also John Carozza. I lived in east harlem in 40’s and 50’s.
      I do not think we are relatives or maybe we are. My fathers
      name was john also and he had two brothers, Alfred and Tony.
      could you be a relative.

  8. michael golia says:

    Michael Golia I would like to find who posted the video of East Harlem Gang 1950’s and if there is any more video

  9. mike says:

    Hey Angela…love the site! I am looking for any information on the Saporito family. They lived on East 107 Street from 1900 until about 1930. I have found some baptism certificates at Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Does this name sound familiar to you in your research? I know Filippo Saporito had a fruit and vegetable store somewhere in the area. Any help would be appreciated..keep up the good work.

  10. Tom Saltarelli says:

    Hi Angela,My name is Tom Saltarelli. Born and raised on east 119th and Pleasant.
    I just wanted to put something out there for all the Italians who read your post.
    We are trying to get Land mark status for Holy Rosary church. This church has been a part of East Harlem history for more then 100 years.
    If you want to see this church saved….please write to the landmarks commission and plead our case. We can’t let Holy Rosay fall.
    If anyone has any questions please contact me at or call Holy Rosary and ask for Teresa Maria.
    Please…YOUR help is needed in saving this church..

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Tom,
      Thank you for your message. I will write a letter to the landmarks commission, and I will do my best to get the word out to save Holy Rosary. I was baptized in Holy Rosary, as was 3 of my older siblings. My family lived at 505 E. 118, from 1950-1966. I’ll pass your message on to my East Harlem contacts on facebook.
      Best regards,

      • Bernard M. Porzio says:

        I too was baptized at Holly Rosasy. Please let me know if you have any luck . We lived at 221 E.123rd between 2nd and 3rd Ave.

  11. Frank says:

    Hi Angela- I grew up in the 1970’s on 1st and pleasant ave. My mom is still there right down the street from Raos! Loved the picture of Morrone’s and Delightful. We used to hang out there! There was another bakery on 2nd ave on 116st…we used to steal bread from them!!! do you recall them? Do you have any pictures of the old Cosmo theatre? Keep up the great work and thanks for bringing me back….BTW: true story: I was a little late getting back when they filmed the scene with Sonny Corleone beating up Carlo in Harlem. I may have been one of the kids in the background splashing around the fire hydrant:)

  12. Susannah says:

    Hi Angela! I am doing research on a great great uncle who lived in Harlem 1900-1918 before he moved to Cuba. He wasn’t Italian, he was Danish. It seems that the Danes assimilate to wherever they live! But, it is difficult for me to find much information before the Harlem Renaissance. His name was Edward Hansen Terp or Ivar Hansen Terp (sometimes E. H. Terp or I. H. Terp or just plain Ed or Eddie). He owned a saloon/café near the Pologrounds (at 8th (now Frederick Douglass Blvd) and lived in an apartment at the same address. THe actual address was 2861 8th (or Frederick Douglass) / 300 W 153rd St. In the papers it was simply called Terp’s Café. Not sure if it was the real name. He was the the “President” of the Knights of the Round Table baseball rooters club. I guess many of the sports writers hung out there. He also kept company with John McGraw. Do you know any thing about this establishment? I can find very little. Thanks!

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Susannah, Your great great uncle lived in Harlem proper, which is west of Central Park. I specialize in the history of Italian East Harlem, which spanned the East River, to Lexington Avenue. I will look on to see if your ancestor’s name comes up in a search, and I’ll let you know what I find! Thanks for visiting my site!

  13. Paul says:

    Hi Angela,
    I grew up on 117th Street and 2nd Ave in the 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s. I attended Mt Carmel for 8 years, 1949-1957. We hung out in Joe Becks Candy Store on 2nd Ave., another candy store on 117th St. between 1st. and 2nd., and The Harlem House on 116th St. in the evenings. We spent our days playing stick ball off of the walls of Myer’s Soda Co. and stoop ball in front of Dyke’s Lumber Yard. We played “crack top”, handball, and plenty of baseball in Jefferson Park, usually on the 111th St. field. When we were older, we spent many an hour sipping cokes at The Delightful.
    I still remember smells from the Mt. Carmel Feast, which when I was very young, covered many more blocks than it did as the years passed. It also had the bandstand set up right in front of Benjamin Franklin High School where the band would play and there would be singing. My favorite was the sausage, pepper, and onion sandwiches on Italian bread. My mother was a fantastic cook, but there was something about those sandwiches that couldn’t be duplicated indoors. I won’t even go into the Italian pastries and lemon ices sold around the neighborhood.
    To make a long story short, I have many memories of East Harlem, some bad, but mostly good. I joined the USAF in the 60’s, got married, and never returned to New York State. My parents retired in 1969, bought a house in the Catskill Mountains, my sister married and moved to Queens, so when I was discharged in 1970, I had no reason to even return to the old neighborhood. By the way, does anyone know why “The Old Neighborhood On Line” website is gone? I used to enjoy going to that website and reading the posts.

    • Angela Bella says:

      I’m not sure what happened to Charlie’s website. I know him, and will reach out and ask him when his site will be up again. Perhaps, he’s revamping it. I hope so, as it was a great forum to converse with people from the old neighborhood! I’m sorry to see it offline.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you Angela, I hope Charlie’s website will return, but it’s been down for quite a while now so I’m thinking it’s something more than revamping. According to the Internet Archives Wayback Machine, the last ability to log on to the website was Feb. 10, 2014. Anyway, I appreciate your help in checking into the website no matter the outcome. Thanks again, Paul

    • Paul I think we know each other seems the same time period your last name Paul Gerani ?
      graduated in 57 OLMC

  14. Dante Salerno says:

    Hi Angela,
    My paternal grandparents, William Salerno and Rachel Marine grew up somewhere around 116th and Pleasant Avenue and I’d love to find out exactly where. They met as kids. My grandpa was born in 1904 or ’05 and my grandma in ’05 or ’06. Is there any way to find out any information about them and their parents and also to trace their immigration from Italy. My grandma’s family, Marino, or Marini, was from Trieste.My grandma’s father was a jeweler for Cartier. My grandfather’s family, Salerno, was from Calabria.
    If you can assist me in making some discoveries about my family, I would so appreciate it!


    Dante Salerno

  15. Lou Vespasian says:

    my paternal grandfather, Umberto Vespaziani, immigrated from Supino, Italy in the late1890’s. at some point he owned & operated a bar in what i was told was Harlem but what i now think was Italian Harlem. I used to have more specifics including the bar address & a newspaper article describing a murder in his bar. all was lost when my pc crashed.
    can you point me in directions to find more about Umberto’s life in NYC. He was 48 when he died in 1917.

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Lou, I have done a bit of research on your grandfather, Umberto. I found some documents on for you. According to the records I found, your grandfather was living in East Harlem from circa 1903 until he died in 1917. His address was 324 East 115th Street. Unfortunately, the building is no longer there, as the Jefferson Housing Project is located on that block. There might be a photo of the building on the Municipal Archives website. Also, I would check out the LaGuardia Wagner Archives. Here’s the link:
      Also, I found that in 1903, Umberto gave another East Harlem address, which I am guessing may have been his saloon. The address is 2240 1st Avenue. This makes sense, as he lived right down the block between 1st and 2nd Avenue. That building is still in existence. It is a corner building on East 115th Street and 1st Avenue. I found this information on I will email you the files, which include the 1910 Census, NYC directory files from various years, and a 1903 passport application. I tried to find an article about the saloon murder, but Umberto’s name was not attached to the articles. There were many saloons located in Italian Harlem, back in the day, and so many murders as well! If I find anything else, I will let you know! Thank you for your interest in my site.
      Best regards,

    • Maria P says:

      Hi Lou,
      Here is a link to the article about your grandfather’s bar and the murder that happened there, as published on 12/6/1913 via the NYT.

      I have done some research on your grandfather because my grandfather came from Supino in June 1905 and lists your grandfather as the “friend” he is staying with at 324 E. 115th St., NY. Your grandfather is also listed as the uncle of Pietro Battisti, arriving with my grandfather. I believe that Pietro is my grandfather’s brother-in-law. Do you know of the Battisti family from Supino?

      I have found the following information on your grandfather:
      1892 January 30 – Umberto Vespasiano (Vespaziano) (22 yrs.) arrives in U.S. on SS Massilia
      1905 April 13 – Umberto Vespasiano (and son) arrive in New York – he is now a U.S. citizen
      1910 – Federal Census (April 23rd) of New York, NY has Umberto Vespasiano (Vasfazano)
      • Umberto is 41 years old (means born in 1869) – immigrated in 1892
      • living at 324 E. 115th St in Manhattan
      • wife is Mary (31 yrs. old), immigrated in 1898
      • children are Louisa (9 yrs), Louis (8 yrs), Carmine (6 yrs), Marianna (3 yrs.)
      • is a “proprietor of a saloon”
      • no boarders are listed as living there
      • found under Manhattan Ward 12> ED#0324> Sheet #19 A or 37/55


      • Angela Bella says:

        Wow! Thank you, Maria, for helping Lou with his ancestral journey. I’m sure he will be very happy to hear that you, so graciously, researched his heritage for him. You are a true genealogy angel! Grazie Mille! 🙂

      • hutchmaster1984 says:

        Hi Maria! My grandfather came from Supino Italy as well in 1905. His name was Guiseppe Tomei (Age 17, and once in USA, Then changed it to Joseph Tomi) and like your Grandfather, mine also says he was staying with “relation” : Umberto Vespaziani @ 324 East 115t, New York. Do you know about any connections to the Tomei family? Trying to figure out if the Vespasianos are family friends or family? Thanks!

      • Maria says:

        Hi Hutchmaster1984,
        I am not sure of any connection between Vespasianos and Tomei. However I have a 2x great-grandmother who is a Tomei! If you want to provide your email, we can exchange information.

      • Darleen Hutchins says:

        Awesome. Darleen.hutchins @ Thanks!

    • hutchmaster1984 says:

      Hi Lou! My grandfather came from Supino Italy as well in 1905. His name was Guiseppe Tomei (Age 17) His passenger records indicate he came over to stay with “relation” : Umberto Vespaziani @ 324 East 115t, New York. This must have been your grandfather!? Do you know about any connections to the Tomei family? Thanks!

    • Amy Westpy says:

      My husband paternal grandfather, Cataldo Vespaziani, and his twin brother, Feruccio (sons of Rocco Vespaziani) emigrated to the US in the early 1900s. My father in law, also Rocco, spoke of Umberto Vespaziani as “The Man”! He said that Umberto was the one to see if you needed help upon your arrival to the US. He helped a lot of people get here by being the point of contact in the US. Umberto was highly revered and respected.
      Cataldo changed his name to Guy and Feruccio became Frank and they both changed the surname to Westpy. So in some generation way back you are related to my husband. My husband is also Guy Westpy. There are many Westpy’s in NJ. A lot of the Vespazinis settled in PA, particularly in the Aliquippa area.
      Amy Westpy

  16. Susannah says:

    Thanks, Angela. I think, though, I’ve exhausted the resources on Ancestry and online newspapers. 🙂 Can you suggest any other local resources I can contact?

  17. Theresa says:

    Angela …are there any tours of the area and its Italian/Italian American History?

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Theresa,
      Not any that I am aware of. But, you can visit the neighborhood during the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in July. Also, in August, the Giglio Festival is a wonderful tradition to see. Overall, as long as the weather is nice, you can visit the old neighborhood any time you wish. Pleasant Avenue looks nice in the Spring, when the trees are blooming. Do you live near NYC? There is a huge shopping area off Pleasant Ave. and E.117th Street. You can park in that public garage, and visit the shops there. Target, Costco, etc.
      Thanks for visiting my website on the history of Italian East Harlem!
      Best wishes,

  18. Vita (Coviello) Lamperti says:

    Hi Angela,

    My maiden name is Vita Coviello. My father, Vito Coviello was Leonardo Covello’s cousin. My grandfather was also Leonardo Coviello. He died when was father was 9 months old. They also were from the same little town in Italy as well as all of my Mother’s family. I grew up in the Bronx but we would still travel by train to Harlem to visit two of my Mother’s brothers and their family especially when it was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. My parents were married in that church in 1933. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article about Leonard. My mother was a great admirer of his

  19. Trevor Miele says:

    HI Angela,
    My name is Trevor Miele and my great grandfather was Lorenzo Miele (his wife was Angelina). According to his WWI draft card and 1920 census, he lived at 2123 1st Avenue and owned a bakery in the same building. Do you have any info on the bakery or him?

    I have found a lot of info on Lorenzo and Angelina via but it would it be cool to learn more.

  20. Bill Caravetta says:

    My name is Bill Caravetta.grew up at 445 E 120st. Went to PS 78 and PS 80.went to Holy Rosery church.Scottys candy store,Patsey pizza the lemon ice store next door we had our Boy Scout meetings in one of the social clubs on pleasant ave. I remember Mike the cop,who help us be safe playing stick ball,and the red wing gang who watched me be safe,my Dad paid them $5 a week to take me to school and back home

    • Frances Angelino says:

      MY name was Frances Angelino. I lived 2334 First 120th St. I remember Patsy,s Pizza. Went to PS78 then Holy Rosary. I had a friend on Pleasant Ave. Had a lot of fun,

  21. I grew up at 304 East 116th st and moved to 120th st between 2nd and third ave across from the school. I had a part time job at Royal Grocery store on corner of 2nd ave and my mother had the beauty shop next door. LOUISE D’ coiffure.

  22. Richard Fata says:

    Hi Angela,
    Wondering if you can dig out some pics of my Pop, Robert Fata, with him and his pals, when he was a teenager. I know he only has a few pics but not much and I want to surprise him. Was wondering if there was any of my Grandparents Fritzy and Anna Nuccio also. My Pop and his family lived in East Harlem from 1942 until around 1960. Obviously my grandparents were there before ’42. Any help would be appreciated. All the best, Richard

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Richard, I wish I had pics of your dad, but perhaps, with any luck, one of my readers will see your post request, and they may have a group photo with your dad in it! If you are on facebook, there is a group page for people from East Harlem. Just type in the words “East Harlem, or Italian Harlem” in the search box on facebook to find the group page. Also, get in touch with Bobby Maida, as he may know your dad, or know people who knew your dad. Bobby is on facebook as well. Richard, when was your dad born? That would give me an idea of who to reach out to for you. Got my fingers crossed for you! Best of Luck! Angela 🙂

  23. Frank Budano says:

    hi Angela I was wondering if u could find anything about the 2 footballs teams that Ponzo coached from the 60s to the late 70s or early 80s we called ourselves Mt Carmel.One was the younger team & the other was the older, both were winning teams.we both went undefeated & unscored upon .thank u.

    • brenda says:

      Frank, are you Nicky’s younger brother?

    • Vincent Ponzo says:

      I played football for Cardinal Hayes 1954-1956. Then played semi pro for Mt Carmel for 5 years. I think we won three championships. I do know we played against the Jets the year before they became the Jets. They were called the Titans. Ponzo [not his real name] played at the same time. My last name really is Ponzo. No relation at all…his was a nick name. Our coach was Zooch?? from 116 st. Mike Lentini was our quarter back and I played half back. We at one time played a team from from Queens. They had 45 boys in perfect white uniforms while we did not have any two matching uniforms. At the end of the game we beat them 14 to 13. they could not believe it and started a fight. We left in a hurry….I think we had a total of 16 players. Great fun…..and better memories……..

  24. Paul says:

    Hi Angela, did you ever find out why Charlie’s website, “The Old Neighborhood On Line”, is gone?

  25. Alan says:

    Hello Angela,
    According to a 1925 census, my grandfather, Charles Genuardo (surnames aka Genard,Genardi,Gerard) was son to Francesco and Josephine. Lived at 311 Pleasant Ave. Born around 1901. Younger siblings included Jasper, Michael, Mary. Maybe another girl born after 1925. Apparently my grandfather had a few run-ins with the law. I would be interested if there were anyone in your network who might have known, or known of, my grandfathers family. It’s so long ago, I can’t imagine it, except maybe someone who was young at the time and is still around today. Or a descendant who might read your webpage.
    Anyway, all the best.
    Alan C.

  26. Alan says:

    Hello Angela,
    According to a 1925 census, my grandfather, Charles Genard (aka Genuardo,Genardi,Gerard) was son to Francesco and Josephine. Lived at 311 Pleasant Ave. Born around 1901. Younger siblings included Jasper, Michael, Mary. Maybe another girl born after 1925. Apparently my grandfather had a few run-ins with the law. I would be interested if there were anyone in your network who might have known, or known of, my grandfathers family. It’s so long ago, I can’t imagine it, except maybe someone who was young at the time and is still around today. Or a descendant who might read your webpage.
    Anyway, all the best.
    Alan C.

  27. Louis Puccio says:

    hello Angela
    yesterday I signed up to this beautiful site. I wrote some comments. I noticed as of today my comments aren’t posted. I’m wondering did I forget to include something.
    I want to thank you for creating this wonderful site and for all you do for our proud Italian heritage. ciao

    • Angela Bella says:

      Dear Louis,
      Thank you so very much for your kind words, and for your wonderful comments. You are welcome to share more memories of growing up in the old neighborhood. Which years did you live there?

  28. Melissa says:

    Hi Angela,

    So hoping your can help because I’m at my wits end. I have a vintage dress form and half the label is missing. The address says e126th st. Nowhere can I find a company at anytime on e126th st. That made model forms. I have a picture if that would help.
    Thank you in advance,

  29. Claudia Manm says:

    My name is Claudia, I am from Florence and I am studying photography at NYU and I am interested in photographing the Italian community in east harlem, would you know a good place to start, any suggestions? Families I could photograph and interview?

    Let me know.
    Grazie mille

    • Angela Bella says:

      Ciao, Claudia! Thank you for visiting my site. Italian Harlem is no longer in existence, sadly. I created this website to preserve the memories of a once vibrant and highly populated Italian community. The neighborhood known as East Harlem, was predominantly Italian from circa 1880’s through the 1960’s and early 1970’s. After that time period, there were still some Italians in the area, but year after year, the Italian Americans drifted away from this urban neighborhood to other environs. Today, there are still some Italian Americans living there, but not many. In answer to your question, you can start by walking on Pleasant Avenue. There, you will find some historical brownstones. You can visit the church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, located on East 115th Street, between Pleasant Ave. and 1st Ave. Also, the church of St. Ann’s on East 110th Street is a beautiful church as well. There is Rao’s restaurant, located on Pleasant Ave. and East 114th Street. Oh, and you can stop in to interview Claudio, the barber on East 116th Street, between Pleasant Ave. and 1st Avenue. Claudio has been a barber in the neighborhood for over 50 years! In July, you can take photos at the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It takes place on Pleasant Ave. and inside the church. July 16th! That is a date not to be missed! Great photo opportunity to photograph former residents of East Harlem, when it was known as Italian Harlem! Also, in early August, there is the Festa di Giglio. This is another wonderful chance to photograph Pleasant Avenue, filled with former residents of the old neighborhood! Well, I hope this helps you. Ciao! 🙂

  30. Maria Scalisi says:

    Where exactly was the Harlem Italian Sanitarium located?

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Maria,
      According to the 1920 US Federal Census, the Harlem Italian Sanitarium was located here: Enumeration District
      District 1354 Manhattan borough, Assembly District 20, Tract 178 (part) including Harlem Italian Sanitarium bounded by E 116th, Pleasant Ave, E 115th, 1st Ave
      Also, according to a detailed map of this area of Pleasant Ave., which I found in a book named:
      Immigrants in the Lands of Promise: Italians in Buenos Aires and New York City, 1870-1914 (Cornell Studies in Comparative History) by Samuel L. Baily, on page 164, you will find a detailed map,(Map 9) which shows that the Harlem Italian Sanitarium was located on Pleasant Avenue, on the South Western corner of East 115th St.
      Thanks for your question!

  31. Matthew Small says:

    Hi, my name is Matthew Small, I’m a reporter for Harlem Focus a newsite site dedicated to Harlem, and I’m writing an article about Italian harlem could i interview you for the article.

  32. John Trezza says:

    By accident found this site. I was Born 289 Pleasent Ave in 1940 the building owned by my father Americus (Gus) Trezza. The basement floor was a Radio and Television repair shop called A&G( Alice & Gus) era late 30’S TO 1948. During the war the shop was moved to a store on Pleasant Av. the corner of 115th adjacent to Shep’s Candy Store I believe it was called. My father would set up the speaker systems in preparation for Mt. Carmel Church. I have photos of the house, Jefforson Park, my family and have written stories of my youth growing up there for my grandchildren(9). My grandfather originally bought the house but eventially died of the Influenza that effected E. harlem by the Hundreds according to my fathers memory when he was only ten. How I remember the aroma of peppers and onions with saugage, as a boy walking along Pleasent Ave, taking in the sights during the feast days.
    I’m proud of my heritage,over-coming being poo, and retired recently in Florida having worked as an Aero Space Engineer for 40 plus years. including work on the Shuttle and Viking lander to Mars. I ‘m an ordained Minister, and volunteer in the Pinellas County Jail. I would love to visit the Feast in August and exchange my History with others . Do you have a contact that could help me even with nearby accomodations. I do have a cousin that lives in Throgs Neck, in the Bronx, that I visited about 4 years ago and need to see her again.
    Sincerely and Please reply

  33. Mickey Andrews says:

    Angela, I’m curious to know if you have any information on any of the popular Italian-American social clubs which were in the neighborhood. A great uncle of mine named Arthur Massimiano, of the East Bronx, used to frequent an Italian-American club which was either on 1st Avenue or Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem well into the 1980’s, and possibly the early 1990’s, as well. Unfortunately, he passed away about thirteen or fourteen years ago, so I can’t ask him, but I thought perhaps you may know of any Italian-American social clubs round Pleasant Avenue or 1st Avenue which were still functioning into the 1980’s, and perhaps the 1990’s.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Mickey, Sorry, but I don’t have any info about the East Harlem social clubs. I know that there were some around Pleasant Avenue, but I don’t know anyone who would have frequented these clubs.
      Thanks for viewing my site! Maybe someone who reads this thread, will be able to help you out. Just to clarify, what exactly are you looking for? I’m not sure what info you need.

      • John Trezza says:

        I was born at 289 Pleasant Ave 1940, the building was owned by my father Americus Trezza. He had a Radio TV repair next to a Candy Store Called Sheps as I recall. I attended Mt Carmel School. Have photos and many stories passed down by him, which I intend to publish. Is there any info on his shop and interest in this history. Also want to find the name of the present owner to make contact .

        Regards John Trezza

      • Angela Bella says:

        Hi John, Coincidentally, My dad had a TV repair shop on east side of Pleasant Avenue, between 118 and 119th St. He ran the shop in the 1960’s. It was next door to a liquor store. People called him Al TV! 🙂

      • Chantal Gailloux says:

        Hi Angela,

        Your website is fantastic. Thank you! Was your father’s TV repair shop where Pleasant Village Community Garden is actually located? I’m trying to understand what happened to the buildings that used to be there. I heard rumors of fire on the upper floors of some buildings located on Pleasant Ave between 118th and 119th, but couldn’t find a year or pictures or any kind of archives. Were there other shops than the Night Hawks club, the candy stores and TV repair shop at the time?

      • Angela Bella says:

        Hi Chantal,
        Thank you so much for visiting my site. Yes, my dad’s TV repair shop was next to the Liquor store, on the right, if you are facing the buildings. The Community Garden is there now. As far as I can recall, the last time I saw the buildings intact, it was around the late 1980’s. In 2004, when my dad and I went back to visit the old neighborhood, the building where his repair shop once was, was no longer there. A garden was in its place. That puts the demolition timeline somewhere around the 1990’s. In fact, the building where my family once lived, was located around the corner, 505 E. 118. That building was razed some time around the 1990’s as well. I remember seeing it as an abandoned building, during the 1980’s.
        My very best regards to you,

      • Generoso aka Jerry Raimo says:

        on the cornerof 120st pleasant ave was Cheech,s social club and the midnight dreamers on 123rd street Jraimo1@yahoo.comJraimo

  34. John Trezza says:

    Eventually my father located his shop from the house to a store a few houses down next to Shep’s candy store on the corner. I remember the work preparing the store with his friends in particular Skinny Joe and Uncle Sam my God Parent, an old boyhood friend of my father. The year he moved was during the war, setting up shop in the freshly painted store.The store had a wood counter with a half door that led to his shop. It was strictly repair with no finances to stock merchandise. Income was meager, maybe about $20 dollars a week, and because of this he sold his 36 Olds sedan to a local guy who I would see hot rodding it around the area a number of times.The album has a picture of us in the car over Aunt Mary’s house, my mothers sister, who lived in the Bronx. My dad also repaired car radios as well. He told me a time when a guy with a 41 Buick, a local punk, came by to get his set fixed, He only recalled this because I had bought a 41 Buick in Minnesota in 1967, eventually bringing it down to Fl. and showing it to him.The story goes on that my dad had to pull the set from the car for repair. Apparently when the guy came to pay he complained and threatened my father saying it was too expensive. After the guy paid by half throwing the money on the counter he left . My dad said he went next door to the Stutzes and recounted the story. Don’t worry about him Gus we’ll take care of it. Later that afternoon my dad’s friends brought in the punk and asked is this the guy ? He said yes and told him to get on his knees and apologize for which he quickly did. After a good couple kicks he was told to stay out of our neighborhood if he knew what was good for him. He never came back!

  35. Carolyn says:

    Hi Angela,
    Can you tell us the status of the documentary Pleasant Days, and if it was ever released? The only thing I could find was the trailer on YouTube.
    Many thanks!

  36. Christine Tralongo says:

    Hi Angela,

    My father was born in Italian East Harlem in 1920, the son of Sicilian immigrants, and he grew up in the neighborhood. As a boy he apparently was sent to a sanatorium for pleurisy, a TB-like condition. He never talked about it so I never knew where he went or for how long. In recent years, as I’ve done genealogical research on my family, I’ve tried to find out more information. I’ve learned that there was a NYC Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Otisville (Orange County) NY. It was also known as Mount Hope. It was established by the city in 1906 and remained a facility for TB patients until 1955. I’ve contacted the NYC Dept. of Health a number of times to see if they had records of patients to see if this was where my father was sent, but I never receive a reply. I wondered if you had ever come across Italian East Harlem residents from this era who were sent to a sanatorium for TB which was rampant at the time due to the poor conditions in which the immigrants lived. Any information you might have would be greatly appreciated.

  37. AC says:

    Hi. I’m looking for pictures from the 1920s or 1930s from around Lexington and 126th. Any idea where I might find some?

  38. Pete Zinzi says:

    Hi Angela!

    By any chance did you know of the Zinzi family? They owned a junk shop on 127th street. Any information would mean so much to my family and I.


  39. J McIntyre says:

    Hi Angela, I lived at 311 Pleasant Ave in the early 1970s. There used to be an Italian bar with a club upstairs- a sort of men’s club really- almost opposite 311 . I was wondering if you knew it’s name. I remember it from about 1973.

    • John Zinzi says:


      I stumbled on this site while reading about Joseph Zinzi Place (Arthur Avenue and E. 187th Street is now also known as Joseph Zinzi Place).

      The junk shop you are describing sounds like my grandfather Tom’s. My name is John Zinzi.
      Son of Pat Zinzi (Tom’s son).

      Are you related to Tom or family friend?

      Thank you!

  40. Linda Jordan says:

    HI Angela, I just found this website and I am amazed when I read the comments…it brings back many memories of East Harlem. I lived on 119th and Pleasant Avenue next to a candy store (I don’t remember the name) and a Catholic church. We moved to New Jersey when I was about 8 years old, but my cousins stayed in the city. My maiden name was Zambrano. My cousins last name was Simmons. Do you happen to know anyone with those last names? Or do you know the name of the church and/or candy store.

  41. Joe Bove says:

    I lived at 447, across the street from the Cadet’s building, Rectory and Holy Rosary Church. The small grocery and attached candy and soda store was known as Charlie Ding Ding’s for some unknown reason. Hope this helps.

  42. Joe Bove says:

    Scotty’s candy store would have been on Pleasant Avenue, correct?

  43. Linda Jordan says:

    Thank you. PS 78 was my school…sure does bring back great memories. Thanks again

    • Joe Bove says:

      Anyone up for an Italian Harlem reunion? Patsy’s might be a good spot to have it.

      • Bill caravetta says:

        That would be great..I live in Florida.but I do go there often for pizza and walk around.sit in front of my old Apt.

    • John Trezza says:

      Hi Linda I’m a retired Aero Engr living in Clearwater Fl. I have comments under John Trezza above dated May 15 &16 th 2016. The Candy store ane radio shop my father had may interest you. Appreciate a response… John

      • Linda Jordan says:

        Hi John, Thank you for your response. I just read your comments above…very interesting. I’m a bit confused though because I have not been back to Harlem in years, however, my Mom passed away last week…she had dementia and so for many years could not tell me about those years in Harlem, but I feel like I have so many great memories and remember so much of what everyone mentions in their posts, stoop ball, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, PS 78, the candy store, church, etc. I need to take a trip there to see all of the different places that I remember and see if I can figure it all out. Thanks again for the information.

      • John Trezza says:

        Thanks…and sorry for your loss. Visited my house 289 Pleasent about 5 yrs ago. You may friend me on FACEBOOK and stay in touch.. Blessings John

  44. Joe Bove says:

    If you know the address of the store you can get a photo from nyc.records (think that’s the correct email but if not I can look it up.) The city took photos of every building in 1940 or so for tax purposes (God bless them.) I’ve used this source twice and while not inexpensive it’s worth it to have a visual record.

    • John Trezza says:

      Thanks Joe I’m trying to find the name of my Grandfather who purchased the house at 289 Plesant Ave around 1916 I think. He died of the great Influenza in 1918 according to my father Americus Trezza who sold the building in 1948

  45. John Trezza says:

    THE RUNAWAY by J.Trezza
    This occurred in 1945 -46 as my first introduction to Pre- school at Holy Rosary Church. The school was located the opposite direction from Jefferson Park about 4 blocks up Pleasant Ave probably located on 119 St. East Harlem NYC. The day was in September, cloudy and chilly as I remember. I knew I was going to a school, having dreamed of it as most children do, but not knowing what it looked like. The building was enormous to me, being a dark grey stone building with an iron wrought fence in the front. The door was large, and led into a hallway where my jacket was hung by my mother, then led to a open class room with Catholic Sisters seating the children on small chairs next to small tables. I don’t remember anything on the tables but may have had a page to color on with a few crayons. My attention now on the room, tables and chairs, did not notice the absence of my mother. Time came when we were told we were going to take a nap on the floor on small mats. I was now fearful as I did not want to be there. I faked sleeping when all the nuns had left, then crawled through the partially open door to the hallway, now empty. I snuck to the coat rack, pulled my jacket then quietly went to the large wooden door that was unlocked. Finally outside I was met by the high Iron Gate that was locked! I noticed two men placing a large console radio in the trunk of a car and called to them. They looked and I believe one said I think that’s Gus kid! I pleaded “Please lift me up I have to go home, please.” They came over half laughing, saying “lets get him out” as they lifted me over the gate, and off I ran, never looking back nor wanting to go back to that place again. I remember entering my house and going in the back yard to play, not seeing my mom. When she saw me, she became alarmed and said slowly “How did you get here?” I only sobbed as much as I could in her apron, sobbing convincingly, please don’t let me go back there. She never did.

  46. Linda Jordan says:

    That is a great story. What school did you end up going to? I think you confirmed what I was remembering that the church was on 119th street a couple doors down from where I lived. I went there every Sunday.

  47. John Trezza says:

    Linda Happy u enjoyed the story,I have many and plan to author them soon. To answer your question is another page of history. “The day finally came when mom started me in Parochial School, Mt Carmel Church located on 116 th St. around the block from our house. Being very poor my mother must have begged the Mother to allow me to enter on a hardship basis. I can still remember the church bell gong, counting the hour every morning for early Mass. We had to wear a uniform of a white shirt, red tie and blue or black pants. Apparently I missed my tie one morning of the first week and along with about 4 other boys. After inspection by the Sister I was told to stand in front of the class. My thoughts were I must have done something good to be called out special. Then On the other end she told the first boy to hold out his hand and wacked it, hard! Then the next on down the line to me. I was a little daring but not stupid as I held out my hand she swung, as I moved my hand causing her to miss to the up-rough of the class. They were actually cheering, as I smiled at her red face bulging from her white and black habit. She relinquished with a smile and commanded sit down I will see your mother! I don’t remember much that came from the incident, but never forgot my tie again. In 1948 my father sold the house at 289 Plesant A. and we moved to my aunts house in New Hyde Park, another story. Regards

    • Joe Bove says:

      Funny story, John. I also had an escape experience but not nearly as daring as yours. Of course, we attended Holy Rosary Church were my father was a very active parishioner, as well as, being an officer in the Holy Rosary Cadets. Even though, when it came time for me to register for kindergarten, my mother took me to P.S.78 where I immediately scoped out the situation, found it not to my liking and proceeded to run out the front door. It was a successful escape; I remember looking out my kitchen window early in September, as all the kids marched off to school, while I was safe and sound at home. The jig was up the following year, when I started first grade at Holy Rosary School where I was apparently too scared to make another breakout. I’ve always felt as if I’ve been a year behind everyone else since then!

  48. Joe Bove says:

    I know there was a men’s social club on the corner of East 119th Street and Pleasant Avenue called the Night Hawks. My parents had their wedding reception there in 1936.

  49. John Trezza says:

    JOE.. About what time frame did you live in the neighborhood, and when did you make the Great Escape???

  50. Joe Bove says:

    John: I was born in our apartment on E.119th St., between Pleasant and First Avenues, in 1946 and made my Great Escape to the wilds of New Jersey, some 10 years later. Still vividly remember the gas station on the corner of 119th St and First Avenue, as well as, the bread store across First Avenue, the bakery with the best Italian ices I’ve ever tasted on First and 120th, and Frank’s the butcher on First Ave, between 118th and 119th. Almost forgot the Half Moon restaurant were I invariably ordered ravioli!

  51. John Trezza says:

    Joe I now remember that station on the corner, my father would fill up our 37 Olds. Such were the times. By the way I found a photo on this site of Holy Rosary Church. The doors and gate I escaped from are still there. I have added the photo to the story. We may be going to a family reunion in Sag Harbor this Summer, and maybe we can meet up. Please stay in touch. Regards John

  52. Joe Bove says:


    If I remember correctly, the corner station was run by Esso. I remember a time when the postman gave me a ride in his truck (I was standing up next to him) down to the corner of 119th and First Avenue. It was like going to the ends of the earth to almost leave your block!

    Was your preschool class held in the basement of the church or did you go to Holy Rosary School on Pleasant Avenue?

    It would be great to visit the old neighborhood with you and anyone else who reads these pages, as well.

    Best wishes,

  53. John Trezza says:

    From my memory as stated above March 2017 “The RUNAWAY” it was the Church building with the large doors and gate out front.
    Most times I spent across the street in front of Benjamine Franklin H.S. my mom letting me cross to ride my 3 wheel bike. Then she would take me to the River Drive, in back of the school where I would ride. Also my grandmother, during the Summer, hand in hers, would take me around the corner to visit Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, located on East 115th Street.
    If you wish we could exchange info as my E-Mail is I would love to meet up. Regards John

  54. Joe Bove says:


    The East River Drive was a popular walking destination for me too. If I remember correctly there was a flight of stairs that lead to a crossover of the river with Randall’s Island on the other side. There was also a small park along the Drive on a 119th Street, another popular destination.
    I’m surprised your mother took you to Holy Rosary for preschool since you lived several blocks away, almost another world then, and closer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Just exactly where did you live and where did you go to school after you were captured?

    Best wishes,

  55. John Trezza says:

    The stories to answer your questions are listed above April 16th and May 16th 2016. I don’t think Mt.Carmel had a pre school but I spent my 1st yr there. I had agarden in Jefferson park and have many photos my mom took of me and my sister. In 1947 a race riot erupted at B.Franklin with hundreds surrounding the entrance. My father stood with his close friends in front of his Radio Shop armed with bats in case. My mother pressured my father to move after the conflicts selling the building 289 and we moved to New Hyde Park in 1948 to my mothers sisters house. Regards John

  56. Joe Bove says:


    Went on-line to find out about the incident you described. The following is just a very small part of an article that thoroughly explained the situation.
    New York City’s worst racial incident in the immediate postwar period erupted on September 27, 1945 at Benjamin Franklin High School, an all-boys school located on Pleasant Avenue between East 114th and East 116th Streets in Italian Harlem. This, the most Italian Little Italy, which in 1940 had approximately sixty thousand Italian Americans, occupied an area of East Harlem from East 96th Street to East 125th Street from Madison Avenue to the East River. Its enrollment included 1,162 students, 37 percent of whom were Italian American, 13 percent African American, 9 percent Puerto Rican, and 41 percent “Other” that included a large number of Jewish students. Over a span of two months, this incident generated over eighty articles and editorials in New York City’s press as well as mention in the Black press outside of New York City. Some of these newspaper accounts, and the accompanying photographs, gave the impression that a full-scale riot had occurred and that the Italian community was populated by violent racists. By implication, these reports communicated that Benjamin Franklin, its principal, and its underlying educational philosophy had failed. BFHS, which had gained a national reputation as a center of intercultural and interracial education, so of all of New York City’s eighty high schools it was the least likely high school where a racial incident would occur. This paper presents the remarkable campaign (that concluded on October 23, when America’s most famous Italian American, Frank Sinatra, visited the school) that healed the racial breach caused by this incident and restored the reputation of the school, it s principal, and the Italian community.

    By the way, I tied using your email address and got a notice that it was not accurate for some reason.

    Enjoy the day.

    • Vito Claps says:

      As an aside to your story, the late Dr Leonard Covello was my second cousin and first principal of Benjamin Franklin HS. The incident that you speak of took place around September, 1945. Dr. Covello had invited Frank Sinatra to visit the school in his efforts to remove the racial tension that was being experienced. Mr. Sinatra sang “Aren’t You Glad You’re You?”

      I was born and grew up on 114th St between First and Pleasant Ave. Went to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and later graduated from Franklin. Our family originally comes from Avigliano, Italy. I left the neighborhood in 1967 after joining the USAF and returned for four years from 1971-1976. And if I may state that Coppola’s Pizza was the best in the neighborhood next to Patsy s. My cousin Vinny Coppola had a part in Godfather II.

      Buona fortuna e felice anno nuovo!

      Vito Claps

      • Angela Bella says:

        Thanks so much for your comment. What years was Coppola Pizza in operation, and where was it located? (What street address?) Thank you!

      • Bob Bracilano says:

        Hi There…
        I lived on East 114Street between first and second Ave.
        My mom had a variety store on 114Street “Lee’s Variety” and I had the hobby shop dept. in her store.

  57. John Trezza says:

    I Don’t remember the Sinatra visit but I witnessed before the riot, a number of whites beating up on a black in the back of the H. School, visible from where we were seated on the Drive. I told my mom to look, who told me to mind my business. I believe the cause of the riot was because of an interracial incident, according to my father, during a previous dance.
    I remember the hundreds of police trying to restore peace, ushering rioters some with chains, on to buses. I was on my way home from Mt. Carmel School when my mother ran to greet me and rush me inside the house, dissapointed because I wanted to see the fights. I checked the address again it S/B all lower case and no spaces. Your Info above is very inciteful and matches my notes. Regards John

  58. Michele LaValle says:

    I would like to say THANK YOU to Angela and all of your here. I have been going through this site with my father (who will be 84 this year). He grew up on 123rd Street, then 120th by elementary school (PS 80). I wrote down some of his stories, and many are similar to yours, but it’s been tremendous for me. He has dementia, but can remember the old days still!

    Dad went to the Dump (the Palace) theater as a kid. He also went to the RKO (he says was on 125th between Lex and Park – and the train was at Park and 125th). Across the street he says was the Grand (not sure if that’s across from the RKO or not). He said on Saturdays they would turn the house lights up and have gifts on stage. You saved your ticket and you could win a gfit. He also enjoyed going to the Sun theater on 119th and 3rd Avenue. He said most theaters showed a double feature, but the Sun showed 3 movies, plus shorts, previews, and episodes. He said he never went to the movies without seeing at least a double feature in those days and that when you went to the movies, you were there for the day! Coming home from the Sun, the said he always stopped at the hot dog stand on 124th & 3rd Avenue.Also, Dad says there was an Italian cinema (the Rialto?) off 2nd Avenue on 125th Street that showed Italian movies.

    He went to James Otis Jr. High, which was on the 2nd floor of the Benjamin Franklin HS (1st floor). Our uncle, Phil Arangio, was one of the builders of the school. Across from the school on Pleasant Avenue, was Shep’s, the candy store.

    Dad used to love to go to the Thomas Jefferson Pool on 114th Street, off Pleasant Avenue, as a kid and teen. He talked about the plot they were assigned during WWII in the park there – they were turned into a Victory Garden.

    Dad went to church at Holy Rosary on 119th Street. He remembers the nun’s house from Holy Rosary was across the street from PS 78 on Pleasant Ave.

    He has fond memories of the ice cream shop, Delightful, Mondelo’s bakery (Sal Mondelo was in Dad’s class at school), and Patsy’s pizza joint on 1st Avenue.

    He said you knew the kids from your school, but that even though Italian Harlem was relatively small, you didn’t really know kids from a few blocks away – he said that was like another state. You knew everyone on your block.

    Dad moved to Park Avenue between 122nd & 123rd for a while, across from Mr. Morris park. They lived in a brownstone there with a front yard and a back garden. He said he’s like to know what that would cost in today’s market (as they weren’t wealthy people)!

    Thanks for letting me share about a world that I never knew, and for giving me the opportunity to let my father talk about his childhood.

  59. Joe Raimo says:

    Hi Angela,your stories bring back such pleasant memories,East Harlem was a Italian American Village a great place to grow up in. I am 88 years young and lived in 437 pleasant ave living on pleasant ave. with agreat view of the east river, randalls island the tri boro bridge I thought we were rich.some of my buddyswere Carmine Rea from 123rd st Jim Louisi who became a movie star on the Rockford File Jimmy Black also 123rd we called JIM Louisi Totsie again Angela thanks for the memories Joe Raimo

  60. Joan Quilter says:

    I, thoroughly, enjoy reading this website, and can relate to many people’s experiences, too. I, often, think that my old neighborhood only exists in my memory, now. It was completely demolished by Commissioner Moses, etc. On my street (E.122nd), there was Pippolo’s candy store, and on both ends of the street, there were beer taverns (one on Pleasant Ave and the other on First Ave). The druggist Mr. Grillo used to quote Dante, while my friends and I would fool around in the phone booths. Commissioner Moses never understood the meaning of “community” where each neighborhood was like a world unto itself.

  61. Lenny says:

    I am loving reading these comments which bring up so many memories!! I lived at 273 Pleasant Avenue from 1947 to 1972 when I got married and moved to the Bronx. My neighbor was Rao’s just two houses down and I had a short walk around the corner to Mt. Carmwl School. I also agree with your comments on Robert Moses —- just ask the people of Brooklyn who lost the Dodgers because Bob Moses would not give them a new ballpark!

    I still pay a visit once in a while but each year I see fewer and fewer faces that I remember.

    • John Trezza says:

      I was born at 289 Pleasant Ave in 1940, the building was owned by my father Americus Trezza. He had a Radio TV repair next to a Candy Store Called Sheps. The building next to us was occupied by a family called the Stutzes, probably not their real name, named I was told by my father after the brothers that owned a Stutz in the 30,s… I attended Mt Carmel School. We moved in 1947-48 to L. I.because of the race riot at B Franklin H S,, Was the family called the Stutzes actually the Rao’s ???? The old man who ventured out his stoop every morning,well dressed was from my father description a powerful man on Pleasant Ave!!!
      Regards John

    • Lenny – 2nd try!
      I was born at 289 Pleasant Ave in 1940, the building was owned by my father Americus Trezza. He had a Radio TV repair next to a Candy Store Called Sheps. The building next to us was occupied by a family called the Stutzes, probably not their real name, named I was told by my father after the brothers that owned a Stutz in the 30,s… I attended Mt Carmel School. We moved in 1947-48 to L. I.because of the race riot at B Franklin H S,, Was the family called the Stutzes actually the Rao’s ???? The old man who ventured out his stoop every morning,well dressed was from my father description a powerful man on Pleasant Ave!!!
      Regards John

      • Vito Claps says:

        The people who lived next to Shep (Joseph) Tuffaro were the Tortorece’s and DiLorenzo’s. Joe Stuz was a heavy weight in the neighborhood. Vince Rao lived next to his Bar and Grill on 114th St.. He was always well dressed in two tone sports jacket and pants. My father went to school with him.


  62. John Monet says:

    Hi Angela My, Name is John , I’m a independent historian and would like to know more about/ get in touch with a E 114th St and Pleasant St long time Resident name Tony? He has lived in the same Apartment he grew up in and never left the neighborhood. He would talk to people like my self that where interested in The old days of Italian Harlem. Not sure if he is still living or not ?But all I know is he would only give his name as Tony, and that he took care his mother for many years in the same 2 floor apartment he grew up in, and that his Father Came from Naples and he was born 1932. P.S If you or anyone could be of help in finding this man I would appreciate it and would like to talk to him.

    • John Monet says:

      Sorry It was E 114th St and Pleasant Ave

    • Bob Bracilano says:

      Hi John,
      MY family lived on East 114 Street between first and second Ave.and my mom had “Lee’s Variety Store” on that block
      As I grew up I attended PS 102 on 113 Street and later went to James Otis Jr. High School.

  63. Carole Maggiore Matthews says:

    Hi Angela,
    My father Henry (Enrico) Maggiore his father Joe Maggiore owned a grocery store in Harlem in the 1940’s. I believe it was around 102 md and Lenox ave. There was a printing shop next door owned by a man named Chester. There was also a movie theater around the corner on Lenox. Do you know anything about it?
    Thank you very much.


    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Carole,
      Thank you for reaching out. I’m not familiar with the area around Lenox Avenue. Sorry I couldn’t help you out, but perhaps, one of my readers will see your comment, and will be able to shed some light on your query.
      Best regards,

  64. Hi Angela,

    Are there any residents in East Harlem with recent inspiring stories that you can share? Would you consider East Harlem as an Italian neighborhood or has another ethnicity become the majority in this neighborhood? And what are three go-to spots in East Harlem to fully appreciate the area?

  65. Rosemaria says:

    Hi! I am the granddaughter of Rosie and Anthony (Gigi ) Castaldo. My grandfathers mom was Josie SALERNO who was married to Joe Castaldo aka Mushkie. My dad was Gaetano Corrado, everyone knew him as Lefty and my mom as Ossie. I’m looking for any information on the Corrado’s Castaldo sides. Does anyone recognize this any if the names?
    Thank you!!!

  66. Hi Angela or Anyone
    I have stories written above such as:
    ” I was born at 289 Pleasant Ave in 1940, the building was owned by my father Americus Trezza. He had a Radio TV repair next to a Candy Store Called Sheps. The building next to us was occupied by a family called the Stutzes, probably not their real name, named I was told by my father after the brothers that owned a Stutz in the 30,s… I attended Mt Carmel School.”
    My question is this ; The house next to us( looking towards 114th St Pleasent Ave) was occupied by a family we called the Stutzes as described above. I believe it was occupied by the Rayo family that owns Rayo’s and Specialty Foods which we buy down here in Clearwater Fla.
    As a boy, a well dressed older man would make his appearence on his stoop next door and greet me almost every morning in Italian.He called me Migael”. I sometimes would go next door to see him since he was always kind and friendly. Could this gentleman be the elder Rayo who was my childhood friend?????
    Hope you are doind well, John

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi John,
      I hope someone can help you with your query. I am sorry, but I do not know the man you are describing. Maybe someone will read your comment, and know who this mystery man was!
      Best of luck to you!
      Angela 🙂

      • Angela
        But did the Rayo’s occupy the address adjacent to 289 Pleasant Ave. Isn’t there a Pleasant Ave Historical phone # or member I could ask? Thanks for your patience…John

  67. Linda Jordan says:

    HI Angela, I lived on 119th Street and I attended P.S. 78. My maiden name was Zambrano. My Grandfather was Natale Zambrano and my father’s name was Giuseppe but changed to Joseph. My cousins, lived, I believe on 120th street and their last name was Simmons. Do you happen to know anyone with the last names of Zambrano or Simmons? I have been on Ancestry, but no luck at all finding anything about my Dad’s family. Thank you for your help, Linda

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Linda,
      My father knew a man with the last name Simmons. I believe his first name was Charlie. I recall going to their house, in Country Club (Bronx) back around 1980. I think they lived on Stadium Avenue, in the Country Club section of the Bronx. My dad knew him from East Harlem. He may have worked in the construction trade.
      Hope that helps!
      Angela 🙂

  68. Angela Bella says:

    Hi John,
    I wish I can help to answer your question. If I ever come across a census record, with the Rao family name, I will let you know where they lived on Pleasant Ave.
    Also, if you are on Facebook, there are a few groups that you can join, related to East Harlem. Look up “Harlem Italians, Italian Harlem” group. Perhaps someone in that group knows the Rao family. Another group that might be helpful is “ East Harlem’s Memorial Page.”
    Hope that helps!
    Best regards,

    • Thanks for the leads , your great.
      Regards John

      • Vito Claps says:


        Joe and Vince Rao owned all the property from the empty lot that was on Pleasant Ave between 114th and 115th Streets, just short of Dr. Montelli’s residence. He had a son Lenny and a daughter (Annie). Vince lived in a building right next to his Bar and Grill on 114th St.Now the buildings that starts on 114th St and go up on Pleasant Ave are now very expensive Condo’s.

        Hope this helps you.


    • Vito Claps says:

      The Rao’s Vince and Joe, owned all the buildings from the empty lot on Pleasant Ave between 114th and 115th St, just prior to Dr. Montelli who had a son Lenny and a daughter Annie.) Today you will find these buildings as very expensive Condo’s. Hope this helps John.


      • Bob Bracilano says:

        Hi Vito,
        I went to the Jefferson Park Methodist Church on114Street
        I lived on 114th Street between 1st and 2nd Ave.

  69. whitehjohn says:

    I’m trying to research, my grandmother, who lived near 116th street and attended Fashion Institute of Technology in the 40’s. Her name was Flora Giannantioni.



  70. Generoso aka Jerry Raimo says:

    Angela thank you for keeping memory lane alive

  71. Generoso aka Jerry Raimo says:

    Thank You

  72. Idan Solon says:

    My grandparents met on V-J Day in 1945 outside of the Bonicoro Bar & Grill at 127th and Lexington. My Grandpa was there because his fellow soldier wanted the free beer Patsy Bonicoro was giving to soldiers that night. Grandpa passed away last night and I’m writing a eulogy for him. What else can I find about the Patsy Bonicoro or the Bonicoro Bar & Grill? Thank you very much.

  73. Richard Conte says:

    Hi Angela…. my name is Richard Conte and I have a photo you might find very interesting. Please email me at Thanks!

  74. Hi Angela! My family is about to move into a condo at Magnolia Mansion. When researching this amazing building’s history, I found out it was originally the Luigi Galvani Junior High School. I can find no information about this school online. It has been fascinating, however, to learn a bit about Mr. Galvani and his experiments. I am hoping you can shed some light on some of the history of this school. Perhaps you know where I can access some information (i.e., articles, photos, etc.). Thanks so much in advance for any guidance! Paul

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Paul,
      Thank you for your comment. I don’t know much about Luigi Galvani, but you can google his name, and this Wikipedia article came up.
      Also, when googling the building’s address, I stumbled upon this realty site, which gave some pertinent info on the history of the building.

      I am familiar with the location, as my dad went to Junior High School there, back in the 1930’s. It was called JHS 172, later named James Otis JHS, in the 1940’s. JHS 172 and Benjamin Franklin High School were housed within the same building, located at 309 E. 108th St. It was the first High School that East Harlem ever had! Leonard Covello was the acting Principal of that school, and in 1942, a brand new “Greek Revival” building was erected near the FDR drive, between E. 114th and E. 116th Street. (adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Park.) It cost over 3 million dollars to build! Today, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, is housed in the former Benjamin Franklin HS/James Otis JHS.
      The building located at 309 E. 108th Street became Benjamin Franklin High School/JHS 172, around 1934. Before 1934, it was Junior High School 172. I’m not sure what happened to that building after the new high school was built, after 1942. However, I am so happy that this old building still exists! So many buildings from the old neighborhood have been destroyed due to public housing, that it is refreshing to know that this lovely building has been re-purposed!
      Also, I know that as early as 1909, Junior High school 172 was located at 309 E. 108th Street. I would guess that this building was erected in the late 1800-s to early 1900’s. I would need to do more research to look into more detail. I hope this helps!
      Best regards,

  75. Tom Wigginton says:

    Is it possible to know where in Italy a relative came from in relation to where they lived in Italian Harlem? My relative lived at 224 East 110th Street around 1896. I have read that many times the streets matched the villages from Italy. Thank you!

    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Tom,
      I really don’t believe that the majority of East Harlem streets were matched by the villages that the immigrants came from. I’ll tell you why. My dad’s family lived on the 300 block of E. 110th Street. His dad came from a town about 10 miles due north of Naples. (Sant’Antimo) On their street, located between First and Second Avenue, there were people from many different regions of Southern Italy. My dad’s best friend’s parents were from a town south of Salerno. Although, they considered themselves Neapolitan, just the same. My grandmother was from Benevento, which is an hour and a half from Naples proper. She married my grandfather, who was from that town due north of Naples proper. They were neighbors on East 108th Street. They lived next door to each other. However, my grandmother considered herself a “Neapolitan.” I hope this helps.
      Best regards,

  76. Doug says:

    Good evening, Great site. My grandfather was from E116th st. I was wondering if anyone knew of anyone there that gives tours of the old neighborhood. Would love to bring my son there to learn his roots. Thanks

  77. Joseph Fiore says:

    Please notify me on any new comments to my new email, Thank You, Joey

  78. Marvin Hoshino says:


    I have a question maybe you can answer. In my NYC neighborhood (not East Harlem) we played a game of tag using flour, an old nylon stocking (and a small rock). You swung it like a sling and tried to hit people and tag them with flour. The only reference I can find online is from Christian summer camp sites where it is called flour sock tag or flour bombs.

    I am almost sure we did not call it that. The only name I remember was Ringalevio, but the Internet says with was a team capture game, although they do say it has many versions.

    I am interested in what is was called in Italian Harlem in the 1940s and how exactly it was played.


    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Marvin,
      I’ll ask one of the East Harlem “old-timers.” Maybe they can shed some light on this subject! 🙂

    • Hello Marvin
      I have an old pix of my father as a child taken at age about 10 cc 1920 of he carring a sock with what he said was chalk.It may have been flower. HE was wearing a coat with white marks on it, the clothes dipicting the Fall time as around Halloween. When asked he said it was a game they played to tag someone with the sock. The pix was taken in front of 289 Pleasent Ave. The photo is very poor quality and the original lost years ago.
      John Trezza

      • Vito Claps says:


        Yes, this was a game we played during Halloween We used slower or corn starch and chalk. Some guys would put rocks in their socks and we would fight the lids from 115th St. It was fun, as long as you weren’t hit in the face. We would come home like we had just finished work in a bakery.


      • Vincent Ponzo says:

        I knew a Vincent Claps and I think he lived on 116th street. I lived on 115st near Ben Franklin High school. I think he went to school with my sister….Vincent Ponzo.

  79. Michael Sacchitella says:


    My paternal great grandparents came to East Harlem around the turn of the last century. G-GF from Melfi,in 1902, and G-GM from Picerno in 1905, both in Basilicata. They were married at OLMC an Nov 1907, by Fr. Rofrano. Per Ellis Island document, my great grandfather came to 2133 1st Ave. He also lived on E 108th, Pleasant Ave and E114th after his marriage. My grandfather and his siblings were all born on E 114th and lived there until mid to late 1910s when they moved to Rochester, NY.

    I have done extensive genealogy research in both Melfi and Picerno and would be more than happy to assist in locating information from either of these two locations for any members, family, or friends.

    Any information you might have on Sacchitella or Caggiano in East Harlem would be great !

    As an historical note, the infamous Patsy’s Pizzeria, founded in 1933, is connected to Melfi, Italy. Pasty’s founder, Pasquale Lancieri of Rapolla, married Carmela Megale (of Melfi) in 1936 some time after the death of his 1st wife Concetta Delvecchio.

    Feel free to contact me at any time. And thanks for sharing your genealogy and East Harlem passion.

  80. Nancy says:

    Hi Angela, a while back Iviewed an old photo of a group of friends from the old neighborhood attending a wedding which I think your Aunt Columbia was a part of. Can u tell where I can find this photo or possibly repost. I believe my friend’s aunt is a part of the group. Thanking you in advance.

  81. Alan Cohen says:

    Hi Angela, I have been researching to find information about my grandfather, Barthomeo (Charles) Gennardi, born 1901 in Sicily. The family came to New York, I believe in 1901 or 1902. Charles had siblings: Giuseppe, Gasparo, Angelina, Maria, and Michele. Their parents (my great grandparents) were Francesco and Giuseppina who lived at 311 Pleasant Ave, and later moved to Locust Ave in the Bronx. I was wondering if any of your readers would know anything about the family.
    Thank you,

  82. lamarr417 says:

    Hi Angela, I have been a subscriber for awhile now. I have a blog and have recently been writing about growing up in East Harlem. One of my friends recently told me I should write you to let you know about the blog. If you are at all interested, it can be found on The last few blogs I thought you might find interesting.

    I look back on those days and wish it was 1950 again.

  83. Alan Cohen says:

    Hello Angela, I’m researching to find information about my grandfather, Barthomeo (Charles) Genardi, born 1901 in Sicily. The family came from Sicily to NY around the same year (1901,1902?). Charles had siblings: Giuseppe (Joseph), Gasparo (Jasper), Angelina, Maria and Michele (Michael). Their parents were Francesco (Frank) and Giuseppina (Josephine) who lived at some point in Manhattan (311 Pleasant Ave) and later in the Bronx (Locust Ave).
    I didn’t know my grandfather. Everything I know, I learned from research on or old newspaper articles. I am trying to make contact with someone who might know something more about the Gennardi family, and in particular my grandfather Barthomeo (Charles) Gennardi. I know it is a long shot, but I was hoping maybe one of your readers might have a connection to the family. So I hope you don’t mind me contacting you.
    Please feel free to contact me anytime.

  84. MG says:

    You need more old photos of Italian Harlem I have a photo you might be interested in how do I send it ????

  85. Julie Salerno says:

    Hi Angela
    My name is Julie Salerno. I grew up on 104th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenue.
    Are you in contact with anyone from that area?

  86. betsy says:

    Hi Angela – I have tried with no success to find any information on my g-grandparents who lived at 221 East 108th Street in +/- 1904. Luigi & Maria Cannarozzo came over from Italy at some point that I haven’t been able to pinpoint. I have not found any trace of them after 1904. (They gave my grandmother up for adoption at that time, which is why I don’t know about them.) Have you come across this name in any of your research? I also wondered if any mid-wife records exist for that time that you know of. Thank you for any thoughts you may have.


    • Angela Bella says:

      Hi Betsy, I’m very sorry for the late response. Do you have an account? I did a quick look-up of the name Luigi Cannarozzo. I found a manifest from 1903. Luigi was 30 years old in 1903. He came from Bompietro, Sicily. He was married in 1903(no mention of wife’s name.) However, he was headed to Cleveland, Ohio, to see his brother in law. His brother in law’s name was Antonio Calascibella.(Not sure of exact spelling.) Luigi had $20 with him on his journey to America. If I find anything else, I will let you know!

    • Angela Bella says:

      Betsy, perhaps you can call the parish church where you grandmother may have been baptized. If she was born in the early 1900’s, around 1904, the parish church would have been Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is located on East 115th Street. You can call the office to request a records search. By any chance, did your grandfather live in Hoboken, during the 1930’s? Do you know if he divorced Maria? What was Maria’s maiden name, and when was she born? I can look into it further. I found a 1930 Federal census from Hoboken. There is a man named Louis Cannarozzi. Luigi would have been changed to Louis, to sound more American. The only difference is the last name ends with a “i” instead of an “o.” Not sure if it is him, but he had 12 kids, and his wife’s name was Raffaella.

  87. Doug Tummillo says:

    Good afternoon,
    Do you know of any locals that could give a paid tour of the area. I want my son to see how his great grandfather lived. He lived at 326E116th St.!!

  88. Doug T says:

    Hi Angela, I have a cool photo that I’d like to share. I was also wondering if you knew of anyone still living in the neighborhood that would be interested in giving a short walking tour of the neighborhood. I want my son to see where some of his family came from.

  89. Doug says:

    Good afternoon,
    I am heading to East Harlem in a few weeks and would like to show my 5 year old son the streets where great grandfather came from. Does anyone from the old neighborhood give tours?

  90. Kim Paolino-Marston says:

    Hi Angela, My name is Kim Paolino. I personally lived in East Harlem for alittle over a year, between 1957-58. However, my father was the 3rd generation that lived in East Harlem. My father, Angelo “Muzzy” Paolino, last lived on 119th St. And 2nd.Ave. His father, Angelo Michael Paolino was the eldest child of Michele and Teresa Paolino. Michele Paolino migrated to New York in approx. 1900. He married Teresa Chieppa be on October 25, 1900. My grandfather, Angelo Michael Paolino married but my grandmother and fathers mother, Mary Rose Sbarra. I am currently doing the footwork to connect the linkage/blood line of the Paolinos. Once that is established, I plan to do the same with the Sbarras. I am attempting to establish a list but of my great grandfather’s offspring. According to what I have researche;. He had seven children. This is where I run into my first wall. I have met in the past my uncle’s Danny and Nicky Paolino, who I were told were my grandfather’s brothers. Yet, they are not listed as his siblings on the records I checked with the US census. Can u help me?

  91. Bello says:

    Hi Angela

    I lived on 112th Street and 1st Avenue in the early 50’s and went to elementary school nearby. Wondering which school that would have been? Also, I have a first grade class photo I would like to post just to see if any of your readers might recognize any of the kids and teachers. Not sure how or where to post the pic.


  92. Jennie Hallett says:

    Hello there, my Great Grandad Francesco Genesini left his home town (Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Tuscany) to live in England where he met my Great Grandma. They had five children together but for some reason Francesco fled the UK for New York where he lived in Harlem. He set up business as a feather salesman trading in Ostrich feathers. I know he travelled to and from Italy a few times late 1800’s early 1900’s but I can find nothing about him from around 1907. Where do I go with my research? I am in NY in the next few weeks and would love to get more info, a photo or even a death certificate…. Any advice would be so much appreciated.
    Best regards,
    Jen Hallett (Genes, Genesini)

  93. Nicholas says:

    My mother grew up at 455 east 116th street her maiden name was Petrone she was one of 9 children her mother was Antonia and her father was Emidio is it possible to get any information unfortunately all my family died

  94. Betsy says:

    Hi, I’m sure this is a long shot but does anyone remember a family named Cannarozzo? I only know about my g-grandparents, Luigi and Mary, who lived at 221 E 108th around 1904. I wondered if any of their children also stayed or grew up in the same area? Thank you – I love reading all the comments, even if I didn’t live here.

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