There are Gypsies in America? Where?

Gypsies in the U.S.

Believe it or not, gypsies were living in the U.S. even before it was a country. Records show that Roma immigrants were living in North America in colonial times, and some stories claim there were even gypsies aboard Columbus's ships on his second trip to the New World.

Some gypsies came to the U.S. voluntarily to escape persecution or to look for economic opportunity, but many were actually deported from places like England, Spain, France and Portugal. For centuries gypsies were treated by mainstream Europeans as social outcasts, and in some places laws forced gypsies who roamed in camps or who didn't have jobs to leave. Napoleon even deported hundreds of gypsies from France and sent them to French-held territory in North America, which in 1803 was sold to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Even though gypsies came to the U.S. as early as the late 1400s, the largest Roma migrations to the U.S. took place from the 1860s until around 1914. During the 1860s, enslavement of Roma in the Balkans was made illegal, so as more and people from that region migrated to the U.S., gypsies were able to go, too. More recent waves of immigration came following the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in the late-1980s.

There are many types of gypsies in the United States today. Some of the major groups include the Rom from Serbia, Russia, and Austria-Hungary; the Ludar from Romania; the Romnichels from England; the "Black Dutch" from Germany; and the Hungarian gypsies.

Today gypsy communities can be found all over the country. Some of the largest gypsy communities are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Portland. Historically, gypsies have specialized in jobs like metalworking, carpentry, music, dance and fortune telling, and cities provide greater opportunities to use these skills.

Some gypsy groups still travel from place to place with their families or in small communities, though not as many as used to. Where they go and how they travel varies. Finding work, changes in living accommodations, changing seasons and even plans to meet up with others are reasons gypsies move around. However, most gypsies today live in regular houses and apartments, so the stereotype of travelling gypsy caravans traversing the countryside is pretty inaccurate.

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