MAP: The More Things Change…

Bensonhurst ethnic map circa 1919 (From

An article in this morning’s New York Times sought to add some historical perspective to the NYPD’s controversial “mosque crawling” demographics unit.

The story included an unabashed ethnic profiling map of New York City from 1919 – part of which is shown above.

At the behest of a committee led by State Senator Clayton R. Rusk, the NYPD and New York State Police drew up the map in order to help authorities root out “seditious activities” among different immigrant groups.

The committee was particularly suspicious of Irish, German, as well as Italian and Russian-Jewish New Yorkers. Its stated purpose was to go after the boogie men extremist groups of the day – which included communists, anarchists, and socialists.

Much like with today’s sting operations in the Muslim community, for every radical individual rounded up, many more would simply be found guilty by association.

On a side note, do you notice any interesting similarities between the demographics shown on this map and your neighborhood’s current ethnic make up?

It’s also worth noting that the map is currently on display at the Brooklyn Historical Society, in the same room as the original milestone from Milestone Park (hat tip to fellow historical stickler Brian Hedden).