Six Ways to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month


Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with food and fun all around NYC (Celia Patterson/The Observer).


Sept. 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of the diverse Latin American cultures across the United States. Between then and Oct. 15, seven different Latin American countries celebrate their independence days. Across the nation, Latino and non-Latino people alike celebrate all the beautiful aspects of Hispanic culture and the ways in which they have enriched the United States. In a city as diverse as New York, it is no surprise that there are various ways you can join in on the celebration. Here are a few to look out for.

1. El Barrio

El Barrio, also known as Spanish Harlem, is the section of Harlem spanning from East 96th Street to East 142nd Street east of 5th Avenue. Following World War I, an influx of Latin American — specifically Puerto Rican — immigrants filled this section of Manhattan with a vibrant, lively culture. While the area is more diverse today, you can still walk down any street and see how prominent Latin American culture is the neighborhood. You’ll find the streets flooded with the sounds of Hispanic rhythms, the scent of alcapurrias — Puerto Rican fritters — and the sights of various shops, restaurants and cultural landmarks. Stop by the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center for one of their special events, like a film screening, exhibit or musical performance. Don’t forget to drop into La Marqueta (The Market) between 111th Street and 116th Street, where you’ll find delicious food as well as live music and fun little shops.

2. El Museo del Barrio

While you’re uptown, you won’t want to miss out on the amazing Museo del Barrio, on 5th Avenue between 104th and 105th Street. It is home to thousands of pieces of Latin American art, including paintings, photos and film. The place is rich in history and culture, immersing you into the world of Hispanic existence. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum often offers bilingual screenings of contemporary Latin American films, educational lectures and artistic performances. Admission is $5 for students, but that ticket also gets you into the Museum of the City of New York across the street.

3. The 54th Annual Hispanic Day Parade

If you’re in the mood for a more lively experience, something specifically dedicated to National Hispanic Heritage Month, make sure to go to the 54th Annual Hispanic Day Parade on Oct. 7. Delight in the sight of dancers, mariachis and other performers celebrating their heritage. Catch the parade marching up 5th Avenue from 44th to 66th Street. Go to DSNY Hispanic Society website for information on how to participate in the parade.

4. Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights is home to a diverse range of cultures. It is unofficially known as Little Colombia by many locals because of the extensive amount of Colombian restaurants, shops and the pastries they sell — all of which make the trek to Brooklyn well worth it. While you’re there, stop by Taqueria Coatzingo for affordable and authentic Mexican food (I should also inform you of its dubious health score, but ignorance is bliss and Mexican food is delicious).

5. La Sirena Mexican Folk Art

Want to decorate your dorm room with some Latin American art to celebrate? There’s no better place to stop than La Sirena Mexican Folk Art in the East Village. It is a beautiful little shop teeming with authentic Mexican art and knick-knacks. Find something memorable to keep with you as a piece of Hispanic heritage and support a small local business at the same time.

6. Celebrate Hispanic heritage from the comfort of your home (or your campus)

How, you might ask? One way is with a film that captures the Latin American experience. Check out the HBO Original Film “Real Women Have Curves” (which you can access for free with your Fordham account) or a fantastical Spanish-language film like “Pan’s Labyrinth” or “Volver.” If movies aren’t your thing, you might enjoy some Hispanic literature, whether it be a full-length novel — which, by the way, you should purchase at Cafe con Libros, an awesome feminist, Afro-Latina owned bookstore in Crown Heights, Brooklyn — or poetry by greats like Pablo Neruda or Julia de Burgos. Additionally, don’t hesitate to drop in on a Student Organization of Latinos meeting right here at Fordham and learn about Latino culture from your peers while also forming new friendships and enjoying the company. Check out their Instagram for information about meetings and events.