In Photos

In Photos: The History of Little Egypt Scattered Across New York City

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In Photos: The History of Little Egypt Scattered Across New York City

The intersection of Steinway St and Astoria Boulevard in Astoria, Queens – otherwise an area known as Little Egypt. Photo courtesy of Lam Thuy Vo via Flickr.

There are approximately 10 million Egyptians living abroad, about 15 percent in the United States alone. It’s no secret that Egyptians make a home for themselves wherever they go, and it’s easy to spot an Egyptian wherever you are in the world. Particularly in New York City, there are several hotspots for the Egyptian community and the Arab community as a whole.

Entering Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, you wouldn’t be able to tell that you’re more than 5,000 miles away from Egypt, with store names written in Arabic and full streets catered for Egyptians. A few miles away in Astoria, Queens, the branded “Little Egypt” features not only authentic Egyptian restaurants but also a Jewish Egyptian congregation. In Ridgewood, Queens, there are several Coptic Orthodox churches and a Coptic community lining the area. The photos below tell stories of Egyptian streets (pun unintended) across New York City of the past 10 years.

A snapshot of Little Egypt on February 11, 2011, on Steinway Street, in Astoria, Queens. Photo courtesy of Dan Nguyen via Flickr.
Al-Iman Mosque in the Little Egypt neighborhood on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. Photo courtesy of Julie Strickland via Flickr.
Mombar, an Egyptian restaurant in Queens’ Little Egypt. Photo courtesy of Mark Dodge Medlin via Flickr.
El Khayam Cafe is the oldest Arab-owned business on Steinway St, owned by Gamal Dewidar, who arrived in New York with the first wave of immigrant Egyptians in 1979. Photo courtesy of Ben Piven via Flickr.
“Islam Fashion”, an Egyptian store in Queens’ Little Egypt, owned by Mohammed Zohny. Photo courtesy of Lam Thuy Vo.
The interior of Islam Fashion. Photo courtesy of Ben Piven via Flickr.
South in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge, another street is lined with Egyptian stores in an Arab Neighborhood. “El Beet Betak”, or Your House Cafe is an Egyptian Cafe. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps.
Reminiscent of a Cairo street, Bay Ridge boasts stores like Hemo’s Juice Bar and Cafe, and Bahary Fish Market, both Egyptian stores. Even the Hair Salon next door disclaims “Salon for all Arabs”. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
Established in 1963 in Brooklyn, Ahaba ve Ahva is the first Jewish Egyptian congregation in the U.S. “Members of the community who moved to Brooklyn from Egypt looked to formulating a sanctified place for daily and Sabbath prayers as well as Talmudic study.”
Further north in Queens, on the intersection of Father Yohanna T Girgis Way and Grove St, is St Mary & St. Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church. The church, situated in Ridgewood, Queens, is one of the oldest Coptic Orthodox churches in North America and the first Coptic Orthodox parish in New York. It was founded in March 1972 and was consecrated in September 1989 during a pastoral visit by Pope Shenouda III. Photo courtesy of
Across the street from the church is a Coptic religious articles store and St. Mina Services, an Immigration Preparation office. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

 

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@noranmorsi

Arts & Culture Reporter. Writer and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for podcasting and theatre. Pre-pandemic, can be spotted getting work done from a Cairo coffee shop, train in Delhi or a New York subway. Intra-pandemic, works at a sunny window with lots of iced coffee.

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