Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Bay Ridge and the Norwegians
The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten had a very interesting article on Norwegian immigrants to USA and particularly Brooklyn. The article is in Norwegian, but what it does is basically to show that Norwegians went to the United States for the same reasons that others go to Norway now, and they even returned to Norway for the same reasons. They were not driven by the dream of democracy or fear for their lives, but by a wish for a more comfortable life. They moved back, out of Bay Ridge and to Norway, after oil was discovered off the west coast.

In USA Norwegians behave just like ethnic minorities do here. They eat Norwegian food, speak Norwegian at home and with friends, go to Norwegian churches, help each other find jobs in places where you can speak Norwegian and marry Norwegians - preferably in those Norwegian churches. In Chicago there were Norwegian gangs and blond Norwegian prostitutes were particularly attractive, while in Bay Ridge they had an extremely high number of Norwegian bars and Norwegian drunks. That was particularly true after the second world war, when several Norwegian sailors of the trade fleet (which operated from England and USA supporting the allies during the entire war) simply stranded in Norwegian friendly Bay Ridge.

The article is two years old, but it is still good, and an important reminder. But next time in New York I am going up 8th Avenue or "Lapskaus Avenue" to look for that deli where they sell kompe...

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