Co-presented by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Hunter College and Lincoln Center

Between the two World Wars, Puerto Ricans migrated to New York City in rapidly growing numbers, spurred by the U.S. citizenship status they received in 1917. They established a creative, working-class, politically active community whose artistry flourished amid its struggle for empowerment.

Much of this activity was centered in San Juan Hill where a sizeable Puerto Rican enclave anchored the neighborhood. Community activism among its residents grew in response to unemployment, housing practices, and displacement. Against this backdrop, an explosion of musical talent and innovation proliferated. Puerto Rican musicians, such as Rafael Hernández, Ram Ramirez, Pedro Flores, and Manuel Jimenez, performed in the many venues that were hallmarks of the neighborhood and broke new ground musically, influencing Latin and jazz music for generations to come.

Learn more through this conversation on the Puerto Rican experience in San Juan Hill—a defining chapter in the history of Puerto Rican New York.

Ed Morales (Author and Journalist)

Lorrin Thomas (Professor of History, Rutgers University)
Elena Martinez (Co-Artistic Director, Bronx Music Heritage Center)
Aurora Flores-Hostos (Writer, Educator, and Producer)

This conversation was filmed at Lincoln Center on Wednesday May 10, 2023.