America in Color: The Postwar Audible Spectrum
Listening to the Puerto Rican migration in the late 1940s and the 1950s, I provide in this chapter an example of the larger context in which audible difference operated in the era preceding CB radio’s mass popularity. The first major postwar migration from outside the mainland United States began in 1948, when many thousands of Puerto Ricans left home for New York City in search of economic mobility and better opportunities than their island territory could offer. New York had not experienced a mass migration of this sort since the turn of the twentieth century. So when Puerto Ricans came to New York in large numbers from 1948 to 1958, their presence represented certainly an audible, if not always a visible, sea change in many working-class neighborhoods—places already under increasing pressure in that same decade from urban planning initiatives to rid the city of “blight” by demolishing vital, if poor, tenement neighborhoods.