Von Diaz

What’s in a Street Name? New York City’s Immigrant History

Maija Garcia and Armando Batista on Juan Rodriguez Way. (Photo: Von Diaz)


By Von Diaz

Originally broadcast on PRI’s The World on June 11, 2013.

On a recent evening in New York City, artist Maija García gears up for a night of theater. First, she stands on stage and asks the audience a question.

“Who knows who New York City’s first immigrant was?” Garcia says.

“Juan Rodríguez!” the crowd responds.

Juan Rodríguez was the first non-Indian immigrant to settle in Manhattan. Be he wasn’t Dutch or English. Rather, he was from what is now the Dominican Republic.

García and her collaborator, Armando Batista, are bringing Rodríguez’s little-known story to the stage. But it is not the only tribute he is getting in New York. Juan Rodríguez Way is the new name for three miles of Broadway, the part that runs through heavily Dominican neighborhoods like Washington Heights and Inwood.

Read the full story on PRI’s The World.