Top Latino ‘Hoods
For generations, the Latino population of the United States has had a major impact on America, especially with communities all over the country, from the South to the Midwest to the East Coast and to the West Coast. By bordering Latin America, from Central America to the Caribbean to South America, it should not be a surprise that Latinos account for the second largest racial group in the United States. The following list will briefly showcase the top Latino hoods, from hoods in California to Chicago to New York to communities in places that most would not expect.
1. East Los Angeles
One of the country’s most iconic Mexican communities is East Los Angeles. An area that has been part of popular culture for years, while pioneering Cholo and Chicano cultures and being one of the first neighborhoods in the country to have Hispanic gangs embedded in its community.
The history of East Los Angeles reflects the multi-cultural growth pattern of the city of Los Angeles. East Los Angeles debuted as a popular immigrant destination at the beginning of the 1900s. Today, the vast majority of East Los Angeles’ population is Hispanic, primarily of Mexican descent, as around the late 1940s and 1950s the community slowly began to transition into becoming predominantly Hispanic during a time when each race of Los Angeles began to establish their own separate sections of the city.
2. South Bronx
A former European immigrant community home to Germans, Irish, and Jewish immigrants changed during the 1950s as Puerto Ricans, followed by Dominicans, move into the area. Over the years the South Bronx became one of the country’s most reputable communities, as far as street and illicit activities, especially between the 1970s and 1990s. From the local gangs and drug kingpins to the poverty and dilapidated housing, the South Bronx area was one of the most broadcasted communities in the country during a dark time in American history.
3. Little Village
With the heart of this West Side Chicago neighborhood being centered around 26th Street the Little Village is one of the city’s most popular communities and maybe the largest Mexican neighborhood of the Midwest as Hispanics have been in the area since the late 1960s and 1970s. The Little Village, or South Lawndale neighborhood, is home to a few Chicago gangs, Gangster 2-6, who was birthed at the corner of 26th and Sawyer, and the Latin Kings.
Pilsen, the mecca of Chicago’s Mexican population, has been part of the city’s Hispanic community since the 1950s. A former hotbed of some of Chicago’s most notorious Hispanic gangs, gangs like La Raza, Satan Disciples, Ambrose, Latin Counts, and Bishops. Gangs in Pilsen started as early as the 1950s as many of the newly arrived Hispanics created their own gangs for a sense of protection, due to constant attacks and abuse by the local white gangs.
5. Northeast Philadelphia (Kensington)
In a section of North Philly known as the “Low Numbers”, the Kensington area is the most known community in the other half of North Philly, Northeast Philadelphia. Northeast Philadelphia was one of the first major Puerto Rican communities in the country, a community that dates back to the 1940s and 1950s. With over 100,000 Latinos residing in Northeast Philadelphia, as well other sections of the city, Philly has created the country’s large Puerto Rican population outside of New York City.
6. Humboldt Park
Humboldt Park, located on the West Side is the mecca of Chicago’s Puerto Rican population and the motherland of national gangs like the Latin Kings, the Maniac Latin Disciples, and a few others. Centered around Division Street, Humboldt Park has been a major part of Puerto Rican community since the 1960s.
7. Washington Heights
A northern Manhattan community was home to one of the country’s largest Dominican populations, with many arriving during the 1960s and 1970s. Washington Heights was notorious during the 1980s and 1990s, at a time when New York City itself was at its most dangerous by being plagued with drugs and crime.
8. Little Havana
The largest Cuban community in the United States is in the city of Miami with the heart of the population being within the historic Little Havana neighborhood. As Cuban refugees fled Cuba during the late 1950s and 1960s many came to claim Miami as their new home, which eventually made way for Little Havana to become Miami’s most iconic neighborhood.
9. North Jersey
As North New Jersey is often referred as the 6th borough of New York City, it would only make sense that there is a large population of Latinos in northern New Jersey. What stands out is the diversity as Latinos from all over the world call this section of New Jersey home. Every demographic ranging from Puerto Ricans to Mexicans to Colombians to Brazilians, all residing in communities in places like Paterson, Elizabeth, Newark’s North and East Ward, Perth Amboy, Passaic, Plainfield, the Union City-West New York-North Bergen area, and small sections of Bergen County.
Latinos have been flourishing in North Jersey for years, Brazilians creating a large community in Newark’s East Ward/Ironbound neighborhood, Colombians making a way for themselves in places like Elizabeth, Cubans having the two cities of Union City and West New York to be referred as “Havana on the Hudson”, Bergenline Avenue’s “Miracle Mile” becoming a mecca for North New Jersey’s and the New York area’s Latino population by serving the community since the 1960s.
10. Mission District
Even though there are numerous Hispanic and Latino areas of the Bay Area San Francisco’s Mission District is the oldest and the most traditional Latino neighborhood of the Bay. While back in the day there was a strong Norteno gang presence, along with being home to reputable blocks and housing projects like Valencia Gardens and Army Street, gentrification has almost completely transformed the neighborhood.
11. Logan Heights
Originally established as early as the 1800s, Logan Heights is one of the most historic and one of the oldest communities in California, . Despite gentrification slowly moving into the neighborhood, Logan Heights is still the heart of San Diego’s urban community and still a prominent Hispanic community. Some of California’s oldest gangs were once founded in Logan Heights, dating back to the 1960s, as Logan Heights’ gangs very respected with some even having ties to the Mexican cartels.
12. King and Story (San Jose)
In the heart of East San Jose resides not only a legendary section of San Jose, but the Bay Area’s most iconic community of all the region’s Latino hoods. With gentrification occurring throughout the metropolitan, King and Story has become the true number one Hispanic neighborhood in the Bay Area. From being a once hotbed for Norteno and Sureno gangs to one of the country’s number one lowrider destinations as the culture of King and Story has been well known from the 1970s to the 2000s for car cruising with lowriders and partying and socializing amongst the Latino communities of northern California. Also, King and Story is the birthplace of Lowrider magazine.
13. West Side Denver
While Hispanics dominate multiple sections of Colorado, the West Side of Denver is the most known. Mexicans have been in Colorado for generations, generations that go back to the 1800s, but Denver’s West Side began to start to become predominantly Hispanic during the 1970s, while sections of Westwood and neighboring communities had a Hispanic presence much earlier. Most of the West Side was developed throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and has truly change since its early days.
14. South Side Oklahoma City
A large community that is the true definition of a neighborhood being its own community, meaning the South Side easily separates itself from the rest of Oklahoma City. After years and years of ups and downs, the Hispanic population of Oklahoma City would eventually create a home on the city’s South Side. From S. Portland Ave. to S High Street and from SW 15th Street to SW 89th Street , this one of the largest Mexican American neighborhoods in the country.
15. West Side San Antonio
While the Hispanic population dominates practically every side and section of San Antonio, the West Side was once the heart of the city’s Mexican community. An area that has most of the city’s housing projects has had a reputation of gangs and street activity since the 1950s, while also being Texas’ most notorious Hispanic community.
16. Corona/Jackson Heights
These two adjacent neighborhoods of Queens have seen many different eras, first with European immigrants, followed by an influx of successful middle-class African-American families, but between the years of the 1970s and the 2000s various nationalities of Latinos moved into the community, nationalities expanding from countries of Central America to countries of South America. When New York City was at its peak with crime, this area was not only one Queens, but was one of New York City’s most reputable communities as the neighborhood saw much activity during the New York’s peak crime wave days.
17. Buffalo West Side
Despite being the smallest section of Buffalo, the West Side has always been a prominent community in the city of Buffalo. Like every other community on the East Coast, the West Side started out as neighborhood for European immigrants, primarily Italians. By the 1950s the demographics of the area started to change. After years of Puerto Ricans coming into the region as migrant workers in the local factories and on the local farms they finally decided to establish a home for themselves, and that home became the West Side of Buffalo.
With too many communities to name and as the state of Connecticut is one of the country’s smallest, the decision has been made to just combined all. From Waterbury to Hartford’s South End to New Haven’s Fair Haven and The Hill to Danbury’s West Side to Bridgeport’s East Side and West End to Norwalk’s South Norwalk, there is a large presence of Latino hoods within Connecticut.
Similar to other surrounding areas, Latinos originally came into Connecticut through New York City. As Puerto Ricans and Dominicans made their way into the NYC, the overcrowding and scarce resources led them to move into places with a little more freedom, with the numerous small towns and cities in Connecticut being some of those places.
19. Southwest Detroit
A very underrated Latino hood as Mexicans have been making their way into the large Michigan city since as early as the beginning of the 1900s. The neighborhood originally started within the Mexicantown community around Vernon Highway, but would later expand from McGraw Avenue to Fort Street.
20. East Orlando
Florida’s largest Puerto Rican community is often overshadowed by other urban areas of the city, like the African American neighborhood of West Orlando, or the numerous attractions in the city, but East Orlando has been around since the 1970s and it lies directly east of Orlando’s downtown and centered around streets like S. Sermoran or Conway Road.
21. South Side Milwaukee
One of the country’s most unknown Latino hoods is in Milwaukee. Puerto Ricans make up and account for a large chunk of the city’s South Side. Following World War II, or into the 1950s, the city of Milwaukee began to gain a reasonable influx of Latinos, primarily Puerto Ricans. Many settled on the South Side in a section that would eventually expand from National Avenue to Oklahoma Avenue, between S. 35th and S. 6th.
22. Gwinnett County, GA
While everyone views Atlanta as the black mecca, or the mecca for the country’s African American population, the North Side, which is mainly within Gwinnett County, has become a mecca for the city’s Latino hoods and Hispanic population, preferably a population of Mexican descent.
23. Cleveland West Side
Originally starting on the city’s East Side as many Puerto Ricans arrived during the 1950s, the population would eventually make its way into the West Side, between Clark Avenue and Dension Avenue, in what would become the most notorious neighborhood of Cleveland’s West Side.
24. Central Pennsylvania
Outside of Philadelphia, within Central Pennsylvania there is a decent size Latino population in places like York, Harrisburg, Hazleton, and Lancaster. The largest communities are within Reading, a city with close to 90,000 residents with around 70% of the population being Latino, and Allentown, a city with over 100,000 residents with over 50% of the population being Latino.
Latinos, primarily Puerto Ricans with a smaller percentage of Mexicans and Dominicans, have been in Central Pennsylvania as early as the 1940s, but by the 1970s the population truly began to form into what it is today. With overcrowding in New York City many Puerto Ricans began to leave the city, starting around the 1960s, and one main destination was central Pennsylvania.
25. East Side Las Vegas
Hidden by the casinos, the East Side, which is northeast of the famous Las Vegas Boulevard strip, is the heart of Las Vegas’ Latino community. While Hispanics have been in Las Vegas since the mid-1900s, not until the 1970s and 1980s did the population began to fully grow into a decent sized community. Today, the Latino population has grown well outside of the East Side, but the heart of the city’s urban community will always be in East Las Vegas.
26. Providence, Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s Latino community is truly diverse as the area consists of Hispanics with either a Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Dominican background, making the state to have one of the most diverse Hispanic populations in the country. Prominent Latino hoods of Providence are the South Side, from Elmwood to Prairie, the West End, around Cranston, Olneyville and Hartford Ave.
Most of Rhode Island’s Latino community originally came from New York City beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, but the first arrival of Latinos was during World War I and World War II, mostly due to the employment opportunities that were offered in Rhode Island through the wartime factories.
27. Lawrence, MA
While in Massachusetts there are a numerous Latinos living in mixed communities with other races in places like Boston, while cities like Springfield has a small section on the city’s North End, Holyoke in an area south of Linden Street, and in Worcester in the Piedmont area. The largest predominantly Latino community in Massachusetts is in the city of Lawrence, based on the North Side and South Side around S. Union. After the city saw decline with the closure of major local businesses, Puerto Ricans, followed by Dominicans, began to migrate into the city during the 1950s and 1960s. From urban renewal to factory and mill closures, this led to white flight and the majority of Lawrence’s population to be within the Latino community.
28. Rochester, NY
Like other East Coast cities, Puerto Ricans originally came into the area during the early and mid 1900s to work as laborers on the nearby farms. By the 1960s, many began to establish a home for themselves, instead of just being seasonal workers and going back to Puerto Rico when the job was finished. The original Latino community was around Jay Street and Maple Street on the city’s West Side. As the population grew during the 1950s and 1960s, the largest community was on the city’s North Side.