New York Final Destination

As Ever, the City Is the Ultimate Melting Pot

When Henry James sailed out of New York harbor for Europe in 1875, Ellis Island, to his right, was just an empty rock, and the city he left behind was ethnically familiar. When he returned for a visit three decades later, everything had changed. Into the city had come millions of people from Ireland and Italy, Jews from all over Europe, Danes, Swedes, Finns and the rest. James was astonished at the polyglot place his old New York had become, at the "hotch-potch of racial ingredients" on the city's streets.

James saw the very crest of the great immigrant wave. At...

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