Spanish in the US: Puerto Rican Americans in New York and Other Northeastern Cities

There is a high percentage of Puerto Rican Americans in New York and other cities in the Northeast, including Philadelphia, Boston, and Hazleton, PA.


  • 1493: Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico
  • 1508: Ponce de Leon and others began to colonize Puerto Rico, and it was an importan Spanish port in the Caribbean in the 1500's.
  • 1600's to 1700's: Spain put more resources into mainlain colonies, so Puerto Rico began to decline. It was also sacked by Dutch pirates in 1625. It remained a part if Spain until the end of the 1800's.
  • 1898: Treaty of Paris: Spain gave Puerto Rico to the US.
  • 1917: Inhabitants of Puerto Rico became US citizens, and Puerto Rico became a "commonwealth" of the US. This means that they possess all the rights and obligations of US citizens (Social Security, federal welfare, right to serve in the armed forces, etc.) except for paying federal taxes and voting in presidential elections. They do not have representation in the US Congress or Senate. No passport is required for American citizens (including those in Puerto Rico) to travel between Puerto Rico and the US.
  • 1930's-1940's: The Great Depression and natural disasters (hurricane's, etc.) impoverished the island, which caused heavy migration to the US in the 40's, 50's, and 60's.
  • Most immigrants went to New York City to find better economic conditions.
  • Migration continued due to poor conditions on the island, cheap airfare, and promotion by the Puerto Rican government.
  • Most migration took place to cities in the Northeast US, such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and smaller cities, like Hazleton, PA.
  • There is a continuing debate over whether Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth, become an independent nation, or become the 51st US state.

Here's what you need to know for a test:

  • There is a high concentration of Puerto Rican Americans in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities in the northeast (including Hazleton, PA).
  • Puerto Ricans are US citizens, and do not need a passport to travel between the US and Puerto Rico.
  • In Puerto Rico people have the same rights and responsibilities as other Americans, with several exceptions (no reps. in Congress, can't vote for president, no federal taxes).