How Parkchester Became “Little Bangladesh”

The once exclusively white neighborhood is a haven for immigrants. But does its success threaten its future?

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Painting in Parkchester (Isha Banerjee for The Juggernaut)

Isha Banerjee


February 13, 2024


9 min

As you drive down the streets of the Bronx, the northernmost of New York City’s five boroughs, and turn onto Starling Avenue, you’ll notice charming brownstones with Bengali signs and hear the chatter of Bengali words. You’ll know then that you have arrived at Bangla Bazaar, a small square in Parkchester. The streets feature Bangladeshi tutoring services, a Bangladeshi pharmacy, a Bangladeshi grocery store, and a Bangladeshi fashion house. Imagine any service or store you need and then imagine a Bangladeshi version. That’s Bangla Bazaar. 

When Shazal Shil arrived on these streets 17 years ago, he saw a very different Parkchester: one with many Bangladeshi immigrants but few businesses that catered to them. Shil and other aspiring Bangladeshi entrepreneurs sought to change that. Slowly, Parkchester started to feel less like only America and more like home. 

Today, generations of Bangladeshis — one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S. with 76% growth from 2011 to 2022 — can say they have led flourishing careers, found families, and recreated community in a building complex that was originally exclusively for white families.

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