the new face of palisades park, new jersey

This is an interesting New York Times story on the rapidly changing community of Palisades Park, New Jersey, which has seen a significant, seismic shift in its Korean American population over the last two decades. Proportionally, it's the most heavily Korean municipality in the country: As Koreans Pour In, a Town Is Remade.

The article opens with borough councilman Jason Kim, who was once one of the few Koreans in Palisades Park. Twenty years ago, he sometimes acted as a translator for the police, because many Koreans in town didn't speak English. Things have changed quite a bit since then:
Since the 1980s, the towns of eastern Bergen County - Edgewater, Englewood Cliffs, Leonia, Fort Lee and others - seem to have exerted a magnetic pull on Asian immigrants, particularly Koreans. But none more so than Palisades Park, whose population is now 54 percent Asian-American and 44 percent Korean-American, the Census Bureau reported this week.

Major population centers like Queens and Los Angeles have more Koreans, but Palisades Park, with fewer than 20,000 people, is, proportionally, the most heavily Korean municipality in the country, according to Pyong Gap Min, a distinguished professor of sociology at Queens College.

A striking 66 percent of the town's population is foreign-born, including many Guatemalans and smaller numbers from several other countries.

The Korean presence is growing fast; the 2000 census found that 31 percent of Palisades Park residents were Korean-American. The 44 percent figure came from surveys taken from 2005 to 2009, and local Korean leaders predict that the figure will be higher when 2010 census numbers are released next year.
Of course, like most areas that see a rapid influx of Asian immigrants, Palisades Park has experienced its share of growing pains, though the tension doesn't seem nearly as virulent as we've seen in other communities. The article makes it sound like the town's older, non-white population just sort of gave up and rolled with the punches when Korean-owned businesses started moving in.

Anyway, read the read the article. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more stories like this as new Census Bureau data gets released.

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