Irish Immigrants into New York: Waterfront Irish

This New York blog launched 17 March 2010 with an account of 6 groups of Irish immigrants:

  1. Merchant Irish
  2. Canal Irish
  3. Garment Irish
  4. Famine Irish
  5. Railroad Irish
  6. Settlement Irish

See the blog posted on 17 March 2010 for a description and  study bibliography for these six groups.  I want to add number 7:

7.  The Waterfront Irish.  Brooklyn, New Jersey, Westside New York made up the Irish waterfront in New York City.  It was the busiest waterfront in the world for many years until the use of cargo containers changed the shipping industry.  Under the control of the International Longshoreman’s Association, bosses ruled the workers with an iron fist.

Add to your summer reading list:

  1. James Fisher, On the Irish Waterfront. Cornell University Press, 2009.  See review written by Jane Berger,
  2. Nathan Ward, Dark Harbor:  The War for the New York Waterfront. Picador Paperback, 2011.

The academy-award winning movie, On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando depicts events and scenes of life from this environment.  Without the historical background.  Without the locations.  Without the many ancestors and their descendants involved and directly impacted by this environment.

Although concentrated on New York City and its New Jersey neighbors, similar scenes can be found in Boston, Providence, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago.

Tracing ancestors in the vacuum of a pedigree chart and a few family group sheets presents a sterile, lifeless existence.  Your immigrant ancestors gave you all they had to offer.

Time to learn just what that awesome gift really means.  Your favorite New York genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  My favorite place to be–in the Library.  Any Library.  Every day brings new discoveries which I can hardly wait to share with you, gentle reader.

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