Ariel Kachuro/Photography Editor Oaks Inn is located in Endicott, New York.

Just a 10-minute drive from Binghamton University lies Endicott, a village rich in history and an area with a great Italian presence. Establishments like Consol’s Family Kitchen, Antonio’s Bar & Trattoria, Oaks Inn, Joey’s Pizzeria & Italian Ice and Battaglini Bakery are all located on Oak Hill Avenue within walking distance of each other. With so many Italian joints, it’s no surprise that Endicott is regarded as a “Little Italy” of the Broome County area.

While Endicott was once an area that thrived and was recognized for its large Italian population, the number of Italians in the area has since declined. However, through the formation of the Little Italy Endicott organization, residents have taken efforts to maintain Endicott’s Italian spirit. Anthony Battaglini, ‘98, owner of Battaglini Bakery, said the organization aims to preserve the area’s Italian culture and transform the neighborhood into a thriving economic and cultural district.

“A little more than 20 years ago, to address people leaving the area, we tried to get something together to keep our heritage going,” Battaglini said. “The 100 block [of Oak Hill Avenue] had the most businesses left on it. The organization tried to promote that … to keep the neighborhood like that.”

Battaglini said the area has drastically changed since the 1900s, with several businesses slowly fading away. However, Little Italy Endicott has made efforts to reverse these changes by encouraging Italian restaurants to make the move to the area.

“They actually brought [Joey’s Pizzeria & Italian Ice] in from Brooklyn to do this,” Battaglini said. “That’s what the Little Italy [Endicott] organization does and they’re doing a great job with it.”

The organization also seeks to preserve the stories of Italian immigrants, maintaining the Little Italy Endicott Heritage Center and Museum, which celebrates the history of immigrants who settled in the Northside area of Endicott. According to the museum’s website, its exhibitions “acknowledge the contributions of people who helped build this community.”

Battaglini is among the Endicott residents who have ties to immigrants, as his relatives immigrated from Arnad, a town in northwestern Italy, to America in 1900. Like many other Italian immigrants who moved to Endicott, his family came to the area to seek work at the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which facilitated the growth and prosperity of village.

“As with most cases with immigration, if you don’t live inside the cities, there’s probably a problem with work,” Battaglini said. “The people that aren’t from the metropolitan areas ended up coming here looking for work.”

Battaglini’s great-grandfather quit his job at the factory and opened up Battaglini Bakery in 1911. Today, the bakery uses some of the same recipes that Battaglini’s great-grandfather used.

When Italian immigrants first came to Endicott, most were native Italian speakers with little knowledge of English. Now, Battaglini said much of the area has changed as families have left the village.

“Because of the local economy here, over the past 20 to 25 years, the first-, second-, third-generation Italians that have been here … their kids have moved away for work,” Battaglini said.

Despite the changes to Endicott’s Little Italy, Battaglini said the area maintains support and love for the Italian culture and community.

“All the townies and families here are all like family,” Battaglini said. “You didn’t have to worry about who your neighbor was or anything like that … [We have] close relationships.”