This marker is dedicated to our Italian ancestors who immigrated to Erie from all regions of Italy and established Little Italy. The first Italians settled in Erie around 1864. In 1895, there were four Italian settlements in Erie, and Little Italy was the largest of them. These immigrants settled on West 16th Street between Cherry and Poplar Streets and the corner of West 16th & Walnut Streets.
Two railroads formed the early boundaries of Little Italy. The Nickel Plate Railroad on West 19th Street formed the southern boundary, and the New York Central formed the northern boundary along West 13th and West 14th Streets. By 1911, Little Italy's population grew to 3,000 residents and included nine city blocks from Huron Street to West 17th Street, and from Chestnut Street to Poplar Street.
In May 1891, during a gathering at a local fruit store, the plans for the first Italian church were formulated. From this humble beginning emerged St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. Money was raised to purchase the old Presbyterian Church at 17th and Chestnut Streets. The building was relocated to the site of the present rectory on Walnut Street between 16th and 17th Streets. In 1928, construction began on the church at its present location. It was dedicated in 1935.
During its zenith, Little Italy supported two banks; the
Bank of Italy and the Italian-American Bank, flourishing newspapers La Progresso, La Fiamma and later, La Chitarra. Prominent Italian doctors founded the Rose Memorial Hospital. There were many fraternal social organizations formed. The most prominent were La Nuova Aurora Society and The Calabrese Club.