Indians in the New York City metropolitan area constitute one of the largest and fastest-growing ethnicities in the
New York City metropolitan area of the United States. The New York City region is home to the largest and most prominent
Indian American population among metropolitan areas by a significant margin, enumerating 711,174 uniracial individuals by the 2013–2017
U.S. CensusAmerican Community Survey estimates. The Asian Indian population also represents the second-largest metropolitan Asian national diaspora both outside of Asia and within the New York City metropolitan area, following the also rapidly growing and hemisphere-leading population of the estimated 893,697 uniracial
Chinese in the New York City metropolitan area in 2017.
The U.S. state of
New Jersey, most of whose population is situated within the New York City metropolitan region, has by a significant margin the highest proportional Indian population concentration of any U.S. state, with a Census-estimated 4.1% of New Jersey's population being an
individual of Indian origin in 2017.
A small Little India did already exist in Manhattan on
between 27th and 30th streets around the former Little Armenia spice shop of Kalustyan's, which had becoming popular among Indian and other South Asian immigrants in the 1960s becoming notable enough to be featured in the New York Daily News as a prime spot for Indian food and groceries by 1976. However, by the 1980s, it was eroding due to increased competition from other Indian districts in Queens which were closer to where the Indian population lived.
Hicksville in Nassau County would become the center of the Indian community on Long Island, with Indian stores concentrating on South Broadway around Route 103 by the 2000s. As the 20th century came to a close, this started to change however, with growing concentrations of Indians in areas such as
Middlesex County, New Jersey, where 55,000 Indians lived by 2000 and in
Jersey City. During the 1990s, these two areas would see their main centers of Indian commerce -
Oak Tree Road in Edison, New Jersey, and
Newark Avenue in the
Journal Square neighborhood in Jersey City become primarily Indian, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, where there was a more of a mixture of businesses. By 1994, there were already over 100 Indian businesses on Oak Tree Road.
An Indian enclave also emerged in
Jackson Heights during the late 20th century, with a strip of Indian stores on 74th Street, though many Indians actually lived in the adjacent, cheaper neighborhood of
Elmhurst. Starting in the 1990s, following the path of past generations of New Yorkers, many Indian immigrants starting moving from Queens to
Long Island in the 1990s into towns such as
East Meadow and
North New Hyde Park seeking bigger homes, better schools and more space. During the 1990s, Indians were the fastest growing group on Long Island. Hicksville would become the center of the Indian community on Long Island, with Indian stores concentrating on South Broadway around Route 103 by the 2000s. The Indian American population would also surge in the further reaches of Central New Jersey in the 2000s in towns such as
Montgomery. The Indian influence in this area manifested itself with the creation of an annual Indian-American fair in
Mercer County Park and the creation of cricket fields and leagues in the area. By the 2010s, there were pushes to teach
Hindi and have
Diwali off at school districts in Central New Jersey. Around this time, there were also a series of home invasions apparently targeting Indians and South Asians in New Jersey, which started to prompt questions about a lack of Indian and more broadly Asian representation in New Jersey's local police forces.
All except the pink/lavender-illustrated counties compose the New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island NY–NJ–PA
Metropolitan Statistical Area, the most populous in the US: New York–Jersey City–White Plains, NY–NJ Metropolitan Division Dutchess County–Putnam County, NY Metropolitan Division Nassau County–Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division Newark, NJ–PA Metropolitan Division Remainder of the New York-Newark, NY–NJ–CT–PA
Combined Statistical Area
The Indian American population in the New York City metropolitan region was second in its population as an
Asian ethnicity only to the approximately 893,697 uniracial
Chinese New Yorkers as of 2017. However, while the presence and growth of the Chinese population is focused on New York City and
Long Island in New York State, the gravitas of the Indian population is roughly evenly split between New Jersey and New York State.
In 2014, 12,350 Indians legally immigrated to the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA core based statistical area; in 2013, this number was 10,818; in 2012, 10,550; 11,256 in 2011; and 11,388 in 2010. These numbers do not include the remainder of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. New Jersey is the only U.S. state in which immigrants born in India comprised the largest
foreign-born nationality, representing approximately 10% of all foreign-born residents in the state.
Monroe Township, with one of the fastest growth rates of its Indian population in the
Western Hemisphere, increasing from 256 (0.9%) as of the 2000 Census to an estimated 4,204 (10.0%) as of 2015, representing a 1,542% (multiple of 16) numerical increase over that period. By 2022, the Indian population was approaching one-third of Monroe Township’s population.
Bridgewater, in the vicinity of a Hindu temple on the central and western parts of the township
Bombay, Jersey City
Bombay, in Jersey City, New Jersey, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere, containing the rapidly growing Indian
ethnic enclave of
India Square. The neighborhood is centered on
Newark Avenue, between Tonnele Avenue and
JFK Boulevard, and is considered to be part of the larger
Journal Square District. It has had a large concentration of Indian businesses since the 1970s, with about 15,000 Indians living in Jersey City by 1986. This area has been home to the largest outdoor
Navratri festivities in New Jersey as well as several
Hindutemples. This portion of Newark Avenue is lined with grocery stores,electronics vendors,
import/export businesses, clothing stores, and restaurants, and is one of the busier pedestrian areas of this part of the city, often stopping traffic for hours. According to the
2000 census, there were nearly 13,000 Indians living in this two-block stretch of Jersey City, up from 3,000 in 1980, increasing commensurately between 2000 and 2010. An annual, color-filled spring
Holi festival has taken place in Jersey City since 1992, centered upon India Square and attracting significant participation and international media attention. Although India Square continues to represent the heart of Little India in Jersey City, situated between Tonnele Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Little India itself has been expanding further eastward along Newark Avenue, through Jersey City's Little Manila, to Summit Avenue and the
Five Corners neighborhood. After dark, the businesses light flashing signs, and the street crowds continue.
Indians have a long history of commerce in the United States. In the late
19th and early
20th centuries, many
Indian tribes in the United States began to focus on tourism as a source of income. Many tribes opened businesses, such as hotels and Indian grocery stores. Today, Indian-owned businesses in the United States include various enterprises, ranging from
small retailers and service providers to
Patel Brothers is the world’s large supermarket chain serving the
Indian diaspora, with 57 locations in 19 U.S. states—primarily located in the New Jersey/New York Metropolitan Area, due to its large Indian population, and with the
East Windsor/Monroe Township,
New Jersey location representing the world’s largest and busiest Indian grocery store outside India.
Indian Independence Day Parade
The annual New York City India Day Parade, held on or approximately every August 15 since 1981, is the world's largest
Indian Independence Day parade outside of India and is hosted by The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA). According to the website of
Baruch College of the
City University of New York, "The FIA, which came into being in 1970 is an
umbrella organization meant to represent the diverse Indian population of NYC. Its mission is to promote and further the interests of its 500,000 members and to collaborate with other Indian cultural organization. The FIA acts as a mouth piece for the diverse Indian-Asian population in United States, and is focused on furthering the interests of this diverse community. The parade begins on
East 38th Street and continues down
Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan until it reaches
28th Street. At the review stand on 28th Street, the grand marshal and various celebrities greet onlookers. Throughout the parade, participants find themselves surrounded by the saffron, white and green colors of the
Indian flag. They can enjoy Indian food, merchandise booths, live dancing and music present at the Parade. After the parade is over, various cultural organizations and dance schools participate in program on
23rd Street and Madison Avenue until 6PM." The New York/New Jersey metropolitan region's second-largest India Independence Day parade takes place in
Little India, Edison/Iselin in Middlesex County, New Jersey, annually in August.
Governor of New YorkKathy Hochul officially declared August 15, 2022 to be India Independence Day in New York; the governor lauded the accomplishments of Indian Americans in a speech that began with "Namaste" and concluded with "Jai Hind".
Sikh Day Visakhi Parade
The world's largest Sikh Day Parade outside India celebrating
Vaisakhi and the season of renewal is held in Manhattan annually in April. The parade is widely regarded as being one of the most colourful parades.
Indian cuisine is very popular in the New York City metropolitan region, bolstered by the growth of the Asian Indian populace and accompanied by growth in the number of Indian restaurants, located both within and outside of traditional Indian enclaves; such that within New York City proper alone, there are hundreds of Indian restaurants. According to David Shaftel of The New York Times in December 2014, the food at New York City's many
Indian chain restaurants is worthy of their flagships in India; the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood south of
Murray Hill, namely
Rose Hill, has been nicknamed Curry Hill, and provides an abundance of
multinational India-based chains specializing in
South Indian cuisine. In 2020,
CNN Travel claimed that the best Indian food in the United States could be found in Jersey City's India Square.
In 1968, a family of
Bengali brothers inaugurated the restaurant Shah Bag at 320 East 6th Street in the East Village of Lower Manhattan, followed by others, with the intention of "making an Indian street". In time, this stretch of East 6th Street between
Second Avenues evolved the nickname Curry Row, with a dense collection of
North Indian restaurants.
By 2000, Indian food food had become ubiquitous in the New York metropolitan area, both inside and outside of Little Indias, with dhabas popping up around the metro area. These dhabas would serve a quickly growing niche of Indian quick-service food, with a particular appeal to Indians working in professions such as a trucking, taxi-driving, importing, and garment dealers. Indian was also getting more attention from the mainstream American press, with some of these dhabas getting reviews from outlets such as
The New York Times.
Indians have been attaining school board membership positions on various
boards of education in New Jersey and on Long Island.
Deepavali/Diwali, Eid/Ramadan as school holidays
Momentum has been growing to recognize the
Hindu holy day Deepavali (Diwali) as a holiday on
school district calendars in the New York City metropolitan region. New York City announced in October 2022 that Diwali would be an official school holiday commencing in 2023.
Efforts have been undertaken in
Millburn, Monroe Township,
Bernards Township, and
North Brunswick, New Jersey, Long Island, as well as in New York City, among other school districts in the metropolitan region, to make Diwali a holiday on the school calendar. According to the Star-Ledger,
Edison, New Jersey councilman Sudhanshu Prasad has noted parents' engagement in making Deepavali a holiday there; while in Jersey City, the four schools with major Asian Indian populations mark the holiday by inviting parents to the school buildings for festivities.Mahatma Gandhi Elementary School is located in
Passaic, New Jersey. Efforts are also progressing toward making Diwali and Eid official holidays at all 24 school districts in Middlesex County. At least 12 school districts on Long Island closed for Diwali in 2022, and over 20 in New Jersey.
Much like other immigrant groups in the US, Indians have established themselves in a variety of different small businesses in the New York area, with South Asians owning 40% of the gas stations in New York City by the early 1990s and also owning many of New York's newsstands by the mid-1980s. South Asians also make up 50% of New York's taxicab drivers, with Indians such as
Bhairavi Desai playing a prominent role in organizing cabbies from the 1990s to the present.
Airline connections with India and the Indian diaspora
A majority of Indian Americans in the New York region are recent immigrants or children of such from India. In that context, travel between the United States and India has developed strong cultural connections, and, in more recent years, business traffic for expatriates. Air India operates
nonstop flights from
New York JFK to Delhi and
Newark Liberty International Airport to Mumbai. United Airlines also operates a nonstop flight from Newark to Mumbai. Meanwhile,
Singapore Airlines flies to
Changi International Airport in
Tamil is one of the official state languages, both from Newark (with one of the longest non-stop flights in the world) and from New York JFK. In May 2019,
Delta Air Lines announced non-stop flight service between JFK and Mumbai, to begin on December 22, 2019.American Airlines started operating nonstop service from JFK to Delhi in November 2021.
^Monsy Alvarado (October 24, 2016).
"Thousands attend countywide celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights". NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY network. Retrieved October 24, 2016. "This is the first time in Bergen County that all religious organizations and community organizations are participating under this banner, the Indian Heritage Center," said Dinesh Khosla, president and one of the founders of the temple in Mahwah. "Ten families started the temple 20 years ago and we have over 3,000 members now."
^Rajan Zed (August 23, 2022).
"All 24 Middlesex County school districts should close on the Diwali holiday". New Jersey Advance Media. Retrieved September 29, 2022. Hindus seek holiday status for Diwali in all 24 school districts of Middlesex County. Rajan Zed is the president of the Universal Society of Hindus. He says establishing a holiday on Diwali in all Middlesex County school districts will be a step in the right direction to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu students, who make up a significant portion of the population in the county.