The designation honors the Dominican communities of Washington Heights and Inwood that built up the neighborhoods.
By Brendan Krisel, Patch National Staff | Sep 7, 2018 4:25 pm ET
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS-INWOOD, NY — Elected officials, community leaders and activist groups gathered Friday on the Plaza de Las Americas in Washington Heights to announced the official designation of the world’s first “Little Dominican Republic.”
The Little Dominican Republic — a commercial and cultural designation — will span much of the Washington Heigths and Inwood neighborhoods starting from West 145th Street to West 220th Street. The designated area features cultural and historical landmarks such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the Met Cloisters, The City College of New York and the George Washington Bridge, officials said.
Officials pushed for the designation as a way to honor the Dominican communities that stayed in Washington Heights and Inwood while the area suffered during the crack epidemic, eventually building them up to the desirable neighborhoods they are today, State Senator Marisol Alacantara said Friday.
“Walking around Upper Manhattan can often feel like walking through the streets of a town in the Dominican Republic… We can finally hold a claim over the incredible contributions Dominicans have made to Upper Manhattan and all of New York City,” Alcantara said in a statement.
Alcantara and other elected officials such as State Assemblywoman Carmen de La Rosa and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said that as gentrification takes its hold on Washington Heights and Inwood, the Little Dominican Republic designation will ensure the contributions of the community are not forgotten as the neighborhood changes.
In many ways, the designation is an affirmation of “what we all knew for years,” Lisette Camilo, commissioner of the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services, said Friday.
“Just as we have Little Italy, Chinatown, and so many other neighborhoods that honor local history, this designation acknowledges how Dominican immigrants, and all Dominican Americans in this neighborhood, have contributed to its identity,” Camilo said in a statement.
The designation was spearheaded by State Senator Alcantara in partnership with an organization called CaribBEING, the Washington Heights Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Catholic Charitiez/Allianca Dominicana and other local stakeholders, officials said.
In the effort to designate Little Dominican Republic, CaribBEING drew on its previous work organizing a designation for the “Little Caribbean” in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The organization plans to provide tours of the Little Dominican Republic starting Oct. 11 that showcase the area’s cultural sites and local businesses.
Photo by Brendan Krisel/Patch