Throughout its history the NYC has been a major port of entry for immigrants into the United States; more than 12 million European immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. The term “melting pot” was first coined to describe densely populated immigrant neighborhoods on the Lower East Side. By 1900, Germans constituted the largest immigrant group, followed by the Irish, Jews, and Italians. In 1940, whites represented 92% of the city’s population.
Approximately 37% of the city’s population is foreign born. In New York, no single country or region of origin dominates. The ten largest sources of foreign-born individuals in the city as of 2011 were the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, Guyana, Jamaica, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago, while the Bangladeshi immigrant population has since become one of the fastest growing in the city, counting over 74,000 by 2013. The New York region continues to be by far the leading metropolitan gateway for legal immigrants admitted into the United States, substantially exceeding the combined totals of Los Angeles and Miami, the next most popular gateway regions.