Nuyorican Poet's Cafe. Taken by David Shankbone, 5 August 2006.

Nuy­or­i­can Poet­’s Café. Tak­en by David Shankbone, 5 August 2006.

The first and sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of Puer­to Ricans ‚who are edu­cat­ed and earn high­er salaries, are mov­ing from the neigh­bor­hoods of New York where their par­ents  set­tled down. The sub­urbs of Nas­sau, Suf­folk and Westch­ester, as well as New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut are some of the pri­ma­ry des­ti­na­tions for these gen­er­a­tions, accord­ing to a new study of the Cen­ter Pol­i­cy Brief. The major­i­ty that emi­grate with­in the Unit­ed States, are of aver­age age (20’s),  were not born in Puer­to Rico, with a high­er edu­ca­tion and sol­id incomes, speaks flu­id Eng­lish, are mar­ried and professionals.


Nuy­or­i­can is a port­man­teau of the terms “New York” and “Puer­to Rican” and refers to the mem­bers or cul­ture of the Puer­to Rican dias­po­ra locat­ed in or around New York State espe­cial­ly the New York City met­ro­pol­i­tan area, or of their descen­dants (espe­cial­ly those raised or still liv­ing in the New York area). This term could be used for Puer­to Ricans liv­ing in oth­er areas in the North­east out­side New York State. The term is also used by Boricuas (Puer­to Ricans from Puer­to Rico) to dif­fer­en­ti­ate those of Puer­to Rican descent from the Puer­to Rico-born.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor considers herself 'Nuyorican' and has said that these roots shaped her.

Supreme Court Jus­tice Sonia Sotomay­or con­sid­ers her­self ‘Nuy­or­i­can’ and has said that these roots shaped her.

The term Nuy­or­i­can is also some­times used to refer to the Span­ish spo­ken by New York Puer­to Ricans. An esti­mat­ed 1,800,000 Nuy­or­i­cans are said to live in New York city, the largest Puer­to Rican com­mu­ni­ty out­side Puer­to Rico. Nuy­or­i­cans are not con­sid­ered Puer­to Ricans by some island Puer­to Ricans due to cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences; this is a very con­tro­ver­sial top­ic amongst both groups of Puer­to Ricans. Eth­nic enclaves cen­tered around Puer­to Ricans include Span­ish Harlem, Man­hat­tan and the South Bronx.


The Oxford Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary cites this word as evolv­ing slow­ly through rough­ly the last third of the 20th cen­tu­ry, with the first cit­ed ref­er­ence being poet Jaime Car­rero using neor­riqueño in 1964 as a Span­ish-lan­guage adjec­tive com­bin­ing neoy­orquino and puer­tor­riqueño. Many oth­er vari­ants devel­oped along the way, includ­ing neor­i­cano, neor­i­can (also writ­ten as Neo-Rican and Neor­i­can), and newyor­i­can (also writ­ten as New Yor­ri­can). Nuy­or­i­can itself dates at least from 1975, the date of the first pub­lic ses­sions of the Nuy­or­i­can Poets Café. Some of the best known “Nuy­or­i­cans” who have writ­ten and per­formed their expe­ri­ences of being a Puer­to Rican in New York are: Willie Colón, Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, Gian­ni­na Braschi, Miguel Algar­ín, Piri Thomas, and San­dra María Esteves.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, the term has been used as a deroga­to­ry term by native Puer­to Ricans when describ­ing a per­son that has Puer­to Rican ances­try but is born in the 50 states or a dif­fer­ent commonwealth/territory. It also can some­times include those born in Puer­to Rico who now live else­where in the Unit­ed States (oth­er than New York). This changed from the orig­i­nal mean­ing with the increase in trav­el back and forth to dif­fer­ent parts of the Unit­ed States and the globe.

While the term has neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions to some, it is proud­ly used by some mem­bers of this com­mu­ni­ty to iden­ti­fy their his­to­ry and cul­tur­al affil­i­a­tion to a com­mon ances­try while being sep­a­rat­ed from the island, both phys­i­cal­ly and through lan­guage and cul­tur­al shifts. This dis­tance cre­at­ed a dual iden­ti­ty that, while still some­what iden­ti­fy­ing with the island, rec­og­nizes the influ­ences both geog­ra­phy and cul­tur­al assim­i­la­tion have had. Puer­to Ricans in oth­er cities have coined sim­i­lar terms, includ­ing “Philly Rican” for Puer­to Ricans in Philadel­phia, and “Chi-Town Rican” for Puer­to Ricans in Chicago.



Famous Nuy­or­i­can Rosie Perez

Many Nuy­or­i­cans are sec­ond- and third-gen­er­a­tion Puer­to Rican Amer­i­cans whose par­ents or grand­par­ents arrived in the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area dur­ing the Gran Migración (Great Migra­tion). Puer­to Ricans began to arrive in New York City in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry but espe­cial­ly fol­low­ing the pas­sage of the Jones-Shafroth Act on March 2, 1917, which grant­ed U.S. cit­i­zen­ship to vir­tu­al­ly all Puer­to Ricans. The Gran Migración accel­er­at­ed immi­gra­tion from Puer­to Rico to New York dur­ing the 1940s and 1950s, but such large-scale emi­gra­tion began to slow by the late 1960s.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, Nuy­or­i­cans resided in the pre­dom­i­nant­ly Hispanic/Latino sec­tion of Man­hat­tan known as Span­ish Harlem, and around the Loi­sai­da sec­tion of the East Vil­lage, but lat­er spread across the city into new­ly-cre­at­ed Puer­to Rican/Nuyorican enclaves in Brook­lyn, Queens and the South Bronx. Today, there are few­er island-born Puer­to Ricans than main­land-born Puer­to Ricans in New York City.