FYSM Intro to Hispanic Hartford
To what extent have the reasons for migration and settlement of Hartford changed from the early 1900’s until present day?
Migration and settlement into Harford has always had the same basic motivating factors, primarily the search for work. In the early 1900’s the main motivation to move into the US was to work as a farmhand for the growing/ cultivating season in the hopes of sending remittances to their area of origin. (Latino Americans Empire of Dreams) In current day the search for work is still one of the primary motivators for migration into Hartford.
In an interview with a man who moved to Hartford and chose to stay anonymous he stated his main reason for coming into Hartford was that it offered him the opportunity to work. In his place of origin, Guerrero, Mexico, he had never worked despite being in his early thirties. He came to Hartford in 2014 and got work in construction, primarily as a dry-waller. This displays that Hispanics are still moving into the Hartford area to work in menial labor jobs and likely to send money back home. The interviewee saying, he came here alone and not knowing any English alludes to him sending money home to his family. In similar fashion people who migrated from Puerto Rico who came to work fields of tobacco and sent money home or returned home after the season finished. Although when asked whether he would move anywhere else he stated that he would not like to do so. Though his reasons were obscure as his primary one for staying was that Hartford had work for him.
I believe the link to Hartford that causes him to want to stay and not move to another city is the large concentration of Hispanics and that he does not have to learn English to stay in the area. In his three years of living in Hartford he has not learned English, and when asked if that was ever a problem for him he replied by saying that it was never a problem for him. He said that nearly everyone he’s met since coming to Hartford can communicate with him in Spanish. Although admittedly he is also not a very active member of the community. As a construction worker, he has long days and goes home tired, so he does not go out many places. When asked what his favorite areas to eat and frequent were, he said he normally eats at home and if he wants to change it up he goes to the Mexican food place named El Tepeyac on Park street. When asked if he noticed any issues in the area he replied vaguely saying that there not many issues that couldn’t be found in any other place. He seemed very content to stay in Hartford and settle here, he had no complaints about the area and seemed to feel very at home. In similar fashion many Hispanics must have done the same thing as him over the time period between 1900 and 2017 in order for the Hispanic population to be as dense as it is within the city.
From walking around Hartford and especially Park Street it is very easy to see the sense of community in the area. The area can look a little scary and rundown at first, but the more an individual immerse themself in the culture and talk to people in the area, one begins to realize the area is very warm and inviting. From the random strangers that come close to ask questions that are genuine questions, not just the standard hawking for money, any person would find in cities like my hometown Chicago.
While the reasons for coming to Hartford are similar, the reason for staying has changed a lot since the year 1900. Where in the past the reason to stay may have been the need for work and the price of moving back and forth from Puerto Rico to mainland US, now it has evolved to become a sense of Hispanic community. It started with Puerto Ricans and has grown to include a large variety of Hispanics all revolving around the language preference of people who come to the United States. Now the community seems very welcoming not just to Puerto Ricans, but also to Guatemalans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and many other Spanish speaking nationalities.
As a Hispanic I can attest to the strong sense of community and welcoming the community has to offer to people of Hispanic descent especially as a native Spanish speaker. However, after talking to people who don’t speak Spanish that are in my class I have found that it can be hard to communicate with the community and really get involved because the language barrier prevents a lot of communication and thoughts. The language barrier also leads to a lot of uncertainty which adds to the idea that the neighborhood is not safe. Although I feel it is safe to say that as a Spanish speaker the community feels less dangerous than as a non-Spanish speaking newcomer.
PBS. “Empire of Dreams.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2013, www.pbs.org/latino-americans/en/watch-videos/#2365076018.