A Slice of History: Pizza in America

People pose with someone dressed as a giant slice of pizza
Pizza aficionados pose at Ellis Island.

NPS Photo

Ellis Island, NY/NJ (June 12, 2019)The National Park Service and Evelyn Hill Inc., the food service concessionaire at the Statue of Liberty since 1931 and Ellis Island since 2009, have cooked up a way to celebrate pizza. Five purveyors of one of America’s favorite foods have been invited to share their crusty craftsmanship and their founder's immigration stories with a temporary exhibit in the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

Pizza is personal. Have you ever asked a New Yorker where to get the best pizza? You could be in for a long conversation. There’s the thickness and crispiness of the crust, the ratio of sauce to cheese, and then there are toppings. The origins of pizza, as we know it today, can be traced back to 17th century Naples, and it was brought to America by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. From New York to Chicago to California, Americans consume more than three billion pizzas a year.

The five pizza establishments represented in the exhibit were out in front of the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration today, giving away their pizza to visitors arriving by ferry.

Pizza Purveyors:

  • Johnny’s of Mt. Vernon, NY
  • Kesté of Bleecker St., NYC
  • Nellie’s Place of Waldwick, NJ
  • NY Pizza Suprema of 8th Ave., NYC
  • Posa Posa of Nanuet, NY

“Food is a tangible and fun way to connect our visitors to the story of immigration,” said the Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, John Piltzecker. “And who doesn’t love pizza? The stories of the families that run the pizzerias represented in this exhibit will help connect our visitors to immigration history and bring it alive.”

“This is our third year of doing a food exhibit tied to family immigration stories,” said Bob Uffer, Chief Operating Officer of Evelyn Hill Inc. “I love how people’s faces light up as they come off the ferries and are surprised to be offered a slice of pizza. We’ve placed the exhibit at the entrance to our café so our visitors get a slice of history and enjoy one of the world’s favorite foods. That’s a win-win.”

Ellis Island Part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, Statue Of Liberty National Monument

Last updated: November 8, 2019