Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Last April, during one of my walks around the neighborhood of Bensonhurst (or Bath Beach or Gravesend, whatever it was), I was pleasantly surprised to see the sign, "Societa di Licodia Eubea - Established 1929 - Donated by Chieto Family" on the building (above) tucked between a Chinese Super Box Buffet and Nails 86, probably a Vietnamese or Korean owned business. With "always in my bag" camera, I took a few photos because I did not wish to take a chance that the next time I visit this neighborhood again whether this "Licodiesi Brotherhood Society" would be around, or most likely would be taken over by another Asian or non-Italian business.

I understand that neighborhoods, particularly in New York or any big cities, are in constant changing as new immigrants are moving into the area. Walking along 86th Street, you will see various cultures such as Russian, Hispanic and most prominently Asians by looking at the storefronts, listening to the languages being spoken by the shoppers, you witness the living history of Bensonhurst being written, just like the Italians and the Jewish people when they settled in this community in early 1900s.
According to Wikimapia, "Bensonhurst (also known as "Brooklyn's Little Italy") is a neighborhood located in the south-central part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Bensonhurst runs from about 14th Avenue to 25th Avenue and from Gravesend Bay to 53rd Street, encompassing Bath Beach, New Utrecht, and part of Dyker Heights and bordered by the Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Gravesend, and Borough Park sections. For many generations of Jewish and Italian residents, Bensonhurst's geographic boundaries have been defined by the streets where the ethnic mix of Bensonhurst begins to fray. Interestingly, since about 1993, the rapid expansion of the population of Orthodox Jews in neighboring Borough Park, has encroached deeply into Bensonhurst, such that the ethnic geographic boundaries now begin from about 18th Avenue to 25th Avenue and from Gravesend Bay to 60th Street. This 1.4 square mile change represents an expansion of Borough Park and a shrinkage of Bensonhurst, as defined by traditional ethnic boundaries. It represents a historical parallel to the shrinkage of Manhattan's Little Italy as a result of the expansion and encroachment of neighboring Chinatown."
The first time we attended St. Mary, we realized that 9:30 a.m. Mass was entirely in Italian. Just like when we attended Mass at Our Lady of Paris - Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) and last year at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, we loved the structure of the Roman Catholics Rite of Mass. No matter where we are and what language is being spoken, the universal sense of belonging, of being connected in our faith, we always know what to expect of the celebration. The traditional Mass begins with Introductory Rites, then Liturgy of the Word, next is Liturgy of the Eucharist, Holy Communion Rite and ending with Concluding Rite. The only time we might feel out of place would be if the presiding priest told something funny during his Homily and we would be the only people who did not even crack a smile or looking around wondering why other people are laughing! Also, we would be reciting The Lord's Prayer in English instead of French or Italian!

According to Wikipedia, "Today, the Italian American community numbers over 50,000, or more than one-third of the population. Despite increasing diversity, Bensonhurst is heavily Italian-American, as its Italian-speaking community remains over 20,000 strong, according to the census of 2000. However, the Italian-speaking community is becoming "increasingly elderly and isolated, with the small, tight-knit enclaves they built around the city slowly disappearing as they give way to demographic changes." [3]".


QaptainQwerty said...

FYI, as confirmed by our brother with better memory for these things, the buffet place itself went out of business, some other place opened up and it too went kaput. The place is now occupied by a sushi/Thai restaurant.

Top-of-the-Arch said...

Is Societa Di Licodia still there? Perhaps you could post the photos of the latest changes.


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