Exploring the Cultural Diversity of New York City

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is devoted to providing access to art and culture for all. As the largest municipal funder of culture in the United States, DCLA is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the city. New York City is a melting pot of different cultures, with a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds represented. White New Yorkers are the only racial group that is overrepresented in low-poverty areas compared to their overall share in the city.

This has encouraged American artists to find their own unique voice, leading to the emergence of a modernist movement that responded to American civilization. The New York City isolation index measures the degree to which members of a group are exposed only to each other in their residential census district. The following table shows the index for different cultural groups in New York City.

New York City Isolation Index

At the beginning of the 20th century, modern dance emerged in New York, a new, distinctly American art form. In the middle of the 20th century, The New York Intellectuals emerged, a group of American writers and literary critics who defended left-wing anti-Stalinist political ideas and who sought to integrate literary theory with Marxism. New York is also home to the Anthological Film Archive, which preserves and exhibits hundreds of avant-garde works from all over the history of cinema. Long Island City, Queens, is a rapidly flourishing art scene in New York and is home to the highest concentration of arts institutions outside of Manhattan.

Explore the installation of more than 40 public art images at City Hall to celebrate the 40th anniversary of New York's iconic Percent for Art program.

Language Diversity

The five languages most spoken by people with limited English proficiency (LEP) show a similar pattern for the five largest language groups spoken by New Yorkers with LEP. These include Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French Creole, and Korean.

Literature & Poetry

New York has also been a flourishing setting for American Jewish literature, as well as for Puerto Rican poets and writers, who call themselves Nuyoricans (a mix of the phrases New York and Puerto Rican). Other singer-songwriters based in New York began to emerge, using the urban landscape as a backdrop for the confessional-style lyrics of poets such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Comics & Pop Art

The history of New York comics has made its way into other facets of New York culture, from the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein to the recent literary production of Jonathan Lethem and Dave Eggers, residents of Brooklyn.


White New Yorkers predominate in Lower and Upper Manhattan, Riverdale, Staten Island, much of southern Brooklyn, and parts of western Brooklyn.

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