“What up, man?”
“Git down here, man — we got work ta
“What th’ f**k’s goin’ on ?”
“It’s Martín, man — they killed him !”
“What the f**k ?!? Who, man ?”
“Who d’ya think, man? It was those f*****g
“What the f**k happened? Wasn’t he with
you? Whyn’t you protect him?”
“Man, they jumped us, a dozen of ’em, there
was nothin’ we could do! They grabbed him,
shoved him into a van, and drove off. We got a
call later where to find him.”
“What’d they f****g do to him?”
“Man, they f****g nailed him into a big
wooden box with a bunch of starving rats. By
th’ time we got to him, we could hardly tell it
was him no more.”
f**k. f**k !!!! We are going to f*****g kill
those s**kers, man. You got your nine?”
-late-night conversation overheard in
the barrio near Corley and Stanton
Decades ago, Latin City was MacGregor Hill, a part of Elmview — just another working-class neighborhood among other working-class neighborhoods.
Beginning in the late Fifties and early Sixties, immigrants from Puerto Rico began settling there in large numbers due to the cheap housing and cost of living.
And quickly it turned the area into a full-fledged barrio where the only signs in English are the street signs… and sometimes not even them.
It’s been called by a lot of names over the years — Little Puerto Rico, Havana North — but most people seem to have settled on “Latin City”.
Today, Latin City is threatening to spill over into Lafayette and south Elmview as the Hispanic population keeps increasing.
The main inhabitants are Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, and Salvadorans.
Latin City has a major crime problem — so much of one that in the Nineties, Hispanic gangs backed by the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels worked their way north up the waterfront, displacing the Mafia from its long-held fief there.
Gangs like Los Reyes and the Mexican Mafia often fight each other.
It’s a constantly-shifting battlefield where life is short, teenagers get rich dealing coke and crack, and innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire.
- City Rail Yard
- Hispanic Pride Community Center
- Compás Hispanico
- Tienda de Todo
- Águila y Serpiente
- Ariando’s Tacos
- Badass Hector’s
- Club Aztec
The largest single employer in Latin City is the City Rail Yard, where the Hudson City Transportation Commission maintains trains, fixes broken trains, and stores trains not currently in use.
Every neighborhood has its heart, and for Latin City that’s the HPCC — or just the “HP,” as it’s usually called on the street.
The center runs outreach programs to help improve the lives of Hispanics in Hudson City, helps find people jobs, sponsors community events, fights drug abuse and gang violence, and generally does whatever it can to have a positive effect on the community.
Latin music has become popular in the U.S. in recent years, but there’s still a lot of it that never makes it north of the border into this country. Compás Hispanico stocks music and movies from Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America that generally aren’t available in the United States.
Eight years ago Elena Padilla started supplementing her income from temp jobs by taking in seamstress work at her brother-inlaw’s dry cleaning business. Today she has a business of her own, where she sells both manufactured clothing and her own custom-made designs to Latinista women.
One-quarter of the store is given over to groceries, but on the rest of the shelves a determined shopper can find toys, books, phone cards, playing cards, toiletries, cosmetics, shoes, secondhand clothes, and car parts… among other things.
One of Latin City’s best restaurants, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you go through the doors you’ll see that the owners concentrated on improving the interior rather than the exterior. Everything is bright and festive, with authentic Mexican decorations.
If the health inspector ever came into Ariando’s Tacos, he’d probably have a heart attack.
But dirty and dingy though it may be, there’s no denying it makes some damn fine tacos and other dishes.
With a name like “Badass Hector’s,” you’d expect a bar/pool hall to be pretty tough… and you’d be right.
Anyone who comes into Badass Hector’s had better be able to look after himself.
One of the few relatively new and “hip” businesses in Latin City, Club Aztec is just what it sounds like: a nightclub decorated in a sort of Aztec theme, right down to a scale model of the Gran Templo Mayor on one side of the dance floor (the DJ’s booth is up top, where the sacrificial altar would be).