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

Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. 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 Cafe. 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.