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Little India Getting Bigger.newsday

Little India Getting Bigger.newsday

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Published by Alan J Krawitz
Story on Hicksville, NY's growing Indian influence
Story on Hicksville, NY's growing Indian influence

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Published by: Alan J Krawitz on Oct 21, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/21/2012

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'Little India' getting bigger
A burgeoning South Asian community turns Jackson Heights into a destination for those seeking asubcontinental cultural or culinary fix
May 4, 2004 by ALAN KRAWITZ. Alan Krawitz is a freelance writer. / As the owner and founder of Shaheen Int'l Inc., many knowTariq Hamid as the ambassador for the Jackson Heights Indian community.His restaurant, located at 72nd Street and Broadway in Jackson Heights since 1973, has played host recently to notables such as Mayor MichaelBloomberg, actor and musician Dweezil Zappa,and singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb. As the owner of one of the area's pioneering restaurants, Hamid has seenthe growth over the years in both the size and stature of the Jackson HeightsSouth Asian business community, centered around 74th Street.What began more than 30 years ago as a street with a few Indian immigrantmerchants has evolved into a community filled with restaurants, grocers, jewelers, clothing stores and mini-malls owned by people of South Asiandescent. And, according to community leaders, the growth in the district seemslikely to continue full speed, for better or for worse."Competition has taken its toll," Hamid said. "Smaller restaurants, storeshave been eating into our profits for a while now."He said there are more than 25 restaurants in the immediate vicinity of 74th Street between 37th Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue.
 
 According to Sayu Bhojwani, New York City's commissioner for immigrantaffairs, 74th Street has become more commercial. Bhojwani said the rise insmall business starts over the past decade has been fueled in part bydemographic changes brought on by South Asians in an area already regarded asone of the most ethnically diverse in the city.The latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the Jackson Heights'South Asian population increased by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2000.In 2000, there were 22,861 people who identified themselves to be of South Asian descent, compared to 14,864 in 1990, according to census data.Bhojwani said a significant increase in the numbers of immigrants fromPakistan and Bangladesh has helped spur business and job growth while making it more difficult for older, established merchants.Sam Kapadia and Nitin Yora are owners of Sam & Raj, an appliance store thathas been a fixture on 74th Street for more than three decades. As two of the founding members of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, Kapadia and Yora agree that competition has been mounting steadilyfor a number of years. "There's probably more than 200 stores here now, inabout a three-block radius," Kapadia said.The area that many used to refer to as "Little India" is now being toutedas a destination unto itself.Madhulika Khandelwal, director of the Asian-American Center at QueensCollege and author of the book "Becoming American, Being Indian," said theJackson Heights Indian enclave is no longer a mere commercial strip for South Asian wares but more a celebration of South Asian life.

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