Italians

North Beach is widely associated with Italians, who have dominated the area for much of its history and who were primarily responsible for rebuilding the neighborhood after the earthquake and fire of 1906 — the neighborhood that is largely intact today. In this association, North Beach has been called Little Italy. However, North Beach has also been called the Latin Quarter for its mix of people speaking Romance languages — Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and numerous dialects. The changing mix of people that merited the term Latin Quarter ended more or less in the ten years after the earthquake and fire when the Italians overwhelmingly predominated. San Francisco’s Little Italy was one of the largest and most important populations of immigrant Italians in the United States during the principle period of Italian immigration from the 1860s to the 1920s. “Of all cities in the United States, this was the only one in which both northern Italians and southerners were substantially represented.” (Cinel 1982: 13) Most San Francisco immigrants came from provinces in Liguria and Tuscany in the north and Calabria and Sicily in the south. Most were farmers or fishermen at home and tried to find similar work in the U.S.

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