Joseph Berger to Speak

May 28, 2008 at 9:39 am 2 comments

Nice coup for the Y! Joseph Berger is terrificly smart and interesting, definitely someone to make time for, if you’ve got the time.

New immigrants continue to transform the face of New York City today, making it a crossroads for the world, the most cosmopolitan and most polyglot city on earth. New York Times reporter Joseph Berger will speak on the new immigrants to this city and the ways in which they are continuing to change it today, on Tuesday, June 3, at 1:30 p.m., at the Central Queens YM&YWHA in Forest Hills. Joseph Berger is the author of The World in a City: Traveling the Globe through the Neighborhoods of New York.

Affluent Douglaston, as well as Flushing, in Queens have both seen heated controversy over Korean language signs. Forest Hills and Manhattan Beach have experienced tensions over newly constructed “McMansions”, as older homes were torn down by Russian and Bukharan immigrants. Yet, in spite of the tensions among neighbors, what Berger found is that most new immigrants and long-time residents have adapted surprisingly well to rapid and dramatic change. From the former pushcart knish vendor on the Lower East Side, who now caters to his customers via the internet, to the recent émigrés from former Soviet republics to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach and Midwood, whose arrival saved the furrier trade from certain extinction Berger found that New York has become a kaleidoscope of nationalities co-existing surprisingly well in small villages within the city. Each virtually self-reliant hamlet is a micro-city, representing specific nationalities and even specific cities and regions abroad. Today, for the price of a subway ride, you can visit Ghana, Bangladesh, or the Philippines.

Joseph Berger has been a columnist, reporter, and editor for the the New York Times for the last 22 years. He is also the author of Displaced Persons, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a memoir about his own experience as an immigrant to the city. For more information, call 718-268-5011, ext. 151, or email


Entry filed under: Forest Hills.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. MIckie T  |  May 31, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Am I the only one who read this and thought, “where has this guy been, under a rock?”

    This is an axiomatic feature of NYC, probably even started during our 17th Century origins as a trading post.

    It is essential that new residents to NYC from all countries (including the US of A) get out of their comfort zone and explore the various neighborhoods of Gotham City and understand this phenomenon. It will make you fall in love with NYC over and over again.

    However, as a native, Queens-bred New Yorker, I found this observation rather underwhelming and hardly newsworthy.

    It might provide a lovely nostalgic trip down memory lane for the seniors who can attend this mid-day, mid-week lecture. I’m sure many of you have great aunts and great uncles who enjoy recounting the different ethnic immigration waves – and the different economic and social “problems” or “success” they caused – which they had to endure during their lives here, before they moved away.

  • 2. karbeth  |  May 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I would advise against judging this presentation based on the Y’s ad copy for it. I’ve skimmed through Berger’s book (gave it as an Xmas gift to a few people last year) and learned a few things. Berger hasn’t been under a rock, but reading his observations, I thought perhaps I had! 🙂

    It may, in fact, turn out to be a senior-dominated lecture because of the time/place, but that doesn’t automatically discredit the speaker. I’m far from being a senior and have attended a few of the Y’s lectures. I don’t always feel comfortable with the audience or the tone of its reactions, but I have, in general, appreciated the caliber of the speakers.


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