Little Dominican Republic is located Washington Heights, also referred by locals as “The Heights.’ With the large influx of Dominicans in this area, it has become one of the most culturally vibrant neighborhoods in New York City. And with the many immigrant enclaves seen throughout NYC, such as “Little Italy,” “Chinatown,” and “Little Caribbean” we sought to ask people what made Washington Heights their #LittleDR.

“The story of Dominican immigration to Upper Manhattan began in early to mid 1980s, and continues to be written today. Walking around Upper Manhattan can often feel like walking through the streets of a town in the Dominican Republic. As you walk down Broadway, you will find bodegas on every corner; barber shops, salons, taxi bases, and restaurants in between; older gentlemen playing dominoes all along Amsterdam and Broadway; and of course, Spanish spoken fluently by an entire community of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans. I am proud to be able to designate Washington Heights and Inwood as the historic district of Little Dominican Republic. We can finally hold a claim over the incredible contributions Dominicans have made to Upper Manhattan and all of New York City,”
— Senator Marisol Alcántara.

“For decades Washington Heights has been the home away from home for immigrants from the Dominican Republic. As one of the the fastest growing immigrant communities in our state, We are proud to recognize the invaluable contributions of the Dominican community through the official designation of Little DR as a district,”
— Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa

"Whether it be through cuisine, literature, music, fashion or business, the significant contributions that Dominicans and Dominican-Americans have made to New York City and American culture cannot be overstated. Designating Washington Heights and Inwood as the Historic District of Little Dominican Republic is a logical next step in consideration of the area’s rich architecture and the ties that it has to the significant cultural history of Dominican-Americans who inhabit these architectural spaces. The neighborhood designation of Little Quisqueya would establish an important anchor for the legacy of our immigrant community, which will in turn attract both economic and cultural activity as people travel to visit, connect and engage in a myriad of ways with our historic neighborhood."
— Angela Fernandez, Esq, Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights


Máximo Contín


Pictured here is Maximo Contin with his family in the Dominican Republic in 1966. Maximo first arrived to the United States as teenage exchange student in the early 1960's. Although there was chaos and turmoil going on in his home country, from assassinations to political unrest, Contin had the chance to better his life in America. His host family in the United States invited him to study in the towns junior college, he soon transfered and graduated from UC Berkely.

César Vargas


César Vargas arrived in New York City at the young age of 13, it was both a culture and climate shock that Vargas was trying to adjust to. He persevered and became not only a writer but a speaker, strategist and social critic. He has been named as one of 404 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics and has written about internal and external community affairs to several news outlets such as The Huffington Post and NBC.

Juan Rodriguez

1st documented non-native american to live on Manhattan Island

Juan Rodriguez was the first documented non-Native American to live on Manhattan Island.As such, he is considered the first non-native resident of what would eventually become New York City, predating the Dutch settlers. As he was born in Santo Domingo (now in the Dominican Republic) to a Portuguese sailor and an African woman, he is also considered the first immigrant, the first person of African heritage, the first person of European heritage, the first merchant, the first Latino, and the first Dominican to settle in Manhattan.

Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice

Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx borough of New York City on June 25th, 1954. As a young child her desire to be a judge was first inspired by the tv show Perry Mason. Her family came from a very modest income, her father worked as a tool-and-die worker and her mother was a nurse. In 1972 she graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School and entered the Ivy League school, Princeton University. She soon became overwhelmed with her new surroundings but through her heavy involvement with the Puerto Rican groups on campus she was able to ground herself in her new and different world. Here she also started to develop her legal skills. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1976 and went to attend Yale Law School the same year. She passed the bar exam in 1980 and began working as an assistant district attorney. She became U.S District Court Judge in 1992 and soon moved to U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeal in 1998. In 2009 she was nominated by President Barack Obama and became the 1st Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S history.

Andrea Evangelina Rodriguez Perozo


Born on November 10, 1879 in San Rafael de el Yuma, Dr. Rodriguez became the first female medical school graduate in the Dominican Republic. She was born into a poor family with an illiterate mother and a wealthy father who left when her mother was pregnant. She was then raised by her paternal grandmother. At the age of 12 she became a part-time home health aide to a journalist named Rafael Alfredo. This encounter led Rafael Alfredo to become a mentor to Perozo. With his guidance she went on to attend the Instituto de Senoritas in the Dominican Republic and pursued a college career in teaching. There she met the founder, Anacaona Moscoso, who invested and encouraged her to become her predecessor at an all-girls school. As well as motivated her to attend medical school at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo Departamento de Medicina. Here she received her medical degree in 1909. In the years after Dr. Rodriguez provided medical and teaching services in the region of Ramon Santana which was heavily run by guerrilla resistance and Trujillo regime. Because of her opposition of the Trujillo regime she suffered police brutality, destruction to her medical practices and she was shunned by her fellow colleagues and local politicians. Trujillo even erased women’s’ health care on the island and other activists such as herself. Although many attempted to erase her from Dominican history, she is remembered as a pioneer in the Dominican medical field.

Cardi B


Born on October 11, 1992 as Belcalis Marelenis Almanzar, she is known professionally as Cardi B. She is a rapper, singer, songwriter and television personality. She rose to fame from several of her Instagram video but became more popular due to her regular appearances on the VH1 reality television series, Love & Hip Hop. The series allowed Cardi's music career to take off and she released two mixtapes, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1. and Vol 2. Since then Cardi has earned three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100:"Bodak Yellow", "I Like It" and "Girls Like You". Her debut studio album debuted at number on the Billboard 200, breaking several streaming records and going certified triple platinum. The album also won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, making Cardi B the only woman to win the award as a solo artist. Since her debut, she has gone on to win a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards, two Guinness World Records, nine BET Hip Hop Awards, three American Music Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards.

Messiah El Artista


Messiah El Artista is a Dominican Rapper whose unique spin on trap music can be heard on track such as "Tu Protagonista" and "Tamo Lindo". Growing up in New York, he was heavily influenced by house-hold name, Jay-Z. Along with the musical influence from hip hop artist, Messiah’s father was a songwriter.

Gastor Almonte

Comedian, Writer, Host

Gastor Almonte was raised by an immigrant family in the East New York section of Brooklyn, NY. He soon became an award-winning stand-up comedian, writer, host and storyteller. He has appeared on shows and podcast such as This is Not Happening and the Story Collider Podcast. He has also been featured on The New York Comedy Festival, The People’s Improv Theater’s SoloCom and Cinderblock Comedy Festival. TimeOut Magazine even named him one of your “New Comedy Obsessions”.

Hemky Madera


Hemky was born as Hemky Louis Madera on January 26, 1977 in Queens, New York, to Dominican parents Luis and Gisela Madera. At the age of two months his family moved to Santiago, Dominican Republic. After Hemky graduated from Santiago Christian School, he worked several jobs but decided to give his one desire, acting, a try. He landed his first role on the widely known production of “Grandes Series Dominicanas”. Hemky was able to work the renowned Dominican director and producer Alfonso Rodriguez on the mini series “En La Olla” and “Trio en Alta Mar”. During his short stay in New York City he worked on the film production of “Bookies Lament” but later returned to the Dominican Republic to star in the mini series “Asalto en la Lincoln”. His first theatrical performance was in “Pantallas”, which was produced and staged by Santo Domingo’s Great National Theatre. Since then he has had roles on shows such as “Life is a Dream”, “The Shield”, “Feast of Ghost” and “Law and Order Criminal Intent”. He is best known for his role in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Queen of the South”, “Weeds” and “Rango”.

F. Valentino Morales


F. Valentino Morales was born on April 16, 1969 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in Washington Heights. In his early teens he moved to upstate New York to attend school. After finishing school Morales became a bouncer for 12 years at some of the worlds most renowned night clubs in Manhattan. In the past he was a New York State Golden Gloves competitor in boxing. His dedication and passion for the sport led him to a rising career in show business. Due to his recognizable face on numerous Latino music videos, he was recognized by actor, producer and director, Vin Diesel. This recognition led Vin Diesel to cast Morales in his award-winning short film “Multi-Facial”. Following the short films success, he was casted in the Sundance feature film “Strays. Today Morales continues to captive his friends, family and fans with his presence and extraordinary talent.

Miguel A. Nunez Jr


Miguel A. Núñez was born on August 11, 1964 in New York City. He is of African American and Dominican descent and was raised by his grandparents in Wilson, North Carolina. One of his first major screen roles was on the movie “The Return of the Living Dead” as the supporting role of Spider. He starred on the CBS series Tour of Duty and remained a main cast member for all three seasons of the show. He appeared on a short-lived FOX series called My Wildest Dreams and UPN series Sparks. In 2002 he starred in the film in film Juwanna Mann as the “bad boy” basketball player who is booted out of the NBA because of his antics. And decides to pose as a woman and join the WUBA. In 2014, Núñez became the executive director for the film School Dance that was directed and written by Nick Cannon.

Dania Ramirez

Television and Film Actress

Dania Jissei Ramirez was born on November 8, 1979. She was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. As a child she wanted to become an actress and would reenact telenovelas for her family. At the age of 15 she was discovered by a modeling agency and was given a small part in a soda commercial. She later decided to pursue acting seriously and attended the Actors Workshop in New York City. In 2001 she graduated from Montclair State University and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. Along with appearing in several magazine spreads, including CoverGirl, she can be seen in television and films such as Once Upon a Time and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Merlin Santana

Actor and Rapper

Merlin Santana was born on March 14, 1976 in New York City. To keep Santana off the streets, his parents began his career in show business at the age of three. His first job was as an advertising model for a fast food chain. He made his first film debut as an extra on the Woody Allen movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo. He soon landed a reoccurring role on The Cosby Show as Stanley, the boyfriend of Rudy Huxtable, in 1991. Three years later he appeared on the television sitcom Sister, Sister as Joey, a boy who falls in love with Tia and Tamera at Rocket Burger. He also made appearances on a few short-lived shows such as Getting By and Under One Roof in 1995. Between the years of 1996 and 1999 he played Ohagi on Moesha. In 1996 he landed the role of Romeo Santana on The Steve Harvey Show. He also played the role of Jermaine in the movie Flossin in 2001 and in 2002 he appeared in the VH1 tv movie, Play’d: A Hip-Hop Story. His final television role was on the UPN series Half & Half and his last film role was on the 2003 comedy film, The Blues with Deon Richmond. Sadly, on November 9, 2002, Santana was shot in the head and killed as he and his best friend and former child actor, Brandon Quintin Adams were in a car leaving another man’s home. Santana was 26 at the time of his murder. His murders were Brandon Douglas Bynes and Damien Andre Gates. Gates was convicted of first-degree murder and the attempted murder of Adams and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 70 years in prison. Bynes was given a 23-year sentence. He was laid to rest at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

Victor Rasuk


Victor Rasuk was born on January 15th, 1984 in New York City to Dominican parents. His mother worked as a seamstress and his father worked at an auto shop. As a child Rasuk attended a performing arts school and soon began his acting career at the age of 14. His first role was in a short film called Five Feet High and Rising, directed by Peter Sollet. He soon rose to fame two years later when the director of his first film suggest the short film be turned into a feature-length film called Raising Victor Vargas. This decision would lead Rasuk to be nominated for Best Debut Performance at the 19th Independent Spirit Awards. He is best known for his roles on Lords of Dogtown, Godzilla and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Jessica Pimentel


Jessica Pimentel was born on September 20th, 1982 in Brooklyn, New York. Originally her parents were from La Romana, Dominican Republic but immigrated to New York as teenagers. At the age of 6 her parents divorced, and she became estranged from her father. Pimentel graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. She later went onto receive a degree in Theater Arts from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her she was awarded the Cleavon Little Scholarship and was a member of the professional acting company. Pimentel has both an acting career and music career. She acted in the 2008 film “Pride and Glory” as well as appeared in four episodes of Person of Interest. Her breakout role came in 2013, where she was casted as Maria Ruiz in the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. At the age of two she began playing music and was trained as a classical violinist. She has been a concert master who has played at Carnegie Hall. As a teen she began learning the guitar, electric bass, percussion and keyboard. Since 2010 she has been the lead vocalist and recording guitarist for the New York based death metal band Alekhine’s Gun. She is also a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, logic, debate and meditation.

Sonalii Castillo

Actress and Model

Sonalii was born on December 15, 1984 in the Dominican Republic but was raised in France. After finishing her education there, her family relocated to New York City. She was soon scouted by several modeling agencies that led her to work in print and commercials. She began to find her passion for acting and moved to Los Angeles, where she immediately signed with Redrock Entertainment Development. Sonalii was able to land roles on top-rated network television shows’ such as, “NCIS: LA”, “CSI: Miami”, “Without A Trace” and “Heroes”. But not only is Sonalii an actress, she is also a filmmaker and director. She wrote, produced and was lead actress in “MAMBA”. This film was screened in multiple countries and states across the US and went on to win eight awards for Best Short film, Best Action Film, Best Action Thriller & Best Actress. She was also nominated three times for best actress for “MAMBA” and received two wins. Her first film, “Dahlias: Wild Card”, was screened at the “Knickerbocker Film Festival”, “Dominican Film Festival”, “Festival Cine de Cine Global Dominicano” and went on to win Sonalii “Best Direction of a Film”. She even expanded beyond film and created a web-series called “Voodoo Vanessa”. The series quickly gained attention and won two awards for “Best Web Series”. Sonalii is a woman of many talents and is not only fluent in English but French and Spanish.

Claudette Lali


Claudette Lali was born as Claudette Eloiza Encarnacion Jaquez on August 1, 1975. She was born in New York City but raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic until the age of 14. Claudette worked as a child actress in the Dominican Republic on a show called “Los Ninos Pueden”. When her family returned to New York, she pursued a career in modeling for Elite Model Management. Soon after she toured the world as Britney Spears wardrobe stylist. Later in life she worked as a segment co-host on Univision Network. Today she lives in California working as an actress. Some of her filmography are Who’s the Boss and Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.

Albert Pujols

Professional Baseball Player

Albert Pujols was born José Alberto Pujols Alcántara on January 16, 1980 and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Pujols was an only child and was mostly raised by his grandmother, uncles and aunts. As a child, Pujols practiced baseball with a lime and a milk carton glove. In 1996, Pujols, his father and grandmother emigrated to Washington Heights but soon moved to Independence, Missouri after Pujols witnessed a shooting. There he played baseball at Fort Osage High School and was named an All-State Athlete twice. Although a few teams were interested in Pujols there was uncertainty about his age, build and which position he would play. In 2000, he began his minor league career with the Peoria Chiefs, playing third base. He went on to play with the St. Louis Cardinals and finally the Los Angeles Angels. In his personal life he married his wife, Deidre and they had 5 children. One of the children from a previous relationship has down syndrome, so in 2005 Albert and Deidre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation. This promotes awareness of down syndrome and works to support the families and the people who have it.

David Ortiz

Professional Baseball Player

David Ortiz was born David Américo Ortiz Arias on November 18, 1975 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is the oldest of four children to Angela Rosa Arias and Enrique Ortiz. As a child he loved baseball and followed the careers of pitcher, Ramon Martinez and his younger brother Pedro Martinez. Ortiz graduated from Estudia Espaillat High School in the Dominican Republic and was an exceptional baseball and basketball player. In 1992, just 10 days after his 17th birthday, Ortiz signed with the Seattle Mariners. He would soon establish himself as one of the best hitting prospects of the Seattle Mariners. He went on to play for the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. In his personal life, he married his wife Tiffany and had three children. He also founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help children and support other causes he was interested in.

Judy Reyes

Television Actress

Judy Reyes was born on November 5, 1967 in Bronx, New York. She was raised by Dominican immigrant parents with three other sisters including a twin sister named Joselin. She attended Hunter College in Manhattan, where she later began her acting career. Reyes began on television shows such as Law & Order, The Sopranos, and NYPD Blue. She later starred in television movies such as The Pregnancy Project and Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story. She landed smaller supporting roles on several films and guest-starred on several television shows. Some of the films and tv shows include Bringing Out the Dead, Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God, Castle, and Medium. She is best known for her roles on Scrubs as Carla Espinosa and Zoila Diaz on Devious Maids. Recently she landed a role on the TNT crime comedy-drama, Claws and the HBO show Succession. Reyes was married to Edwin M. Figueroa, who was a writer and director. They later divorced and she gave birth to a daughter with her partner George Valencia.

Alex Rodriguez

Baseball shortstop

Alex Rodriguez was born Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez on July 27, 1975. He was raised in Washington Heights to Dominican immigrant parents, Victor and Lourdes Rodriguez. He was raised along side his half siblings from his mothers first marriage. As a child Rodriguez loved playing baseball. Some of his favorite players were Keith Hernandez and Cal Ripken Jr. As a freshman in high school he was the star shortstop on the baseball team and played quarterback on the football team. He was selected as the USA Baseball Junior Player of the year and as Gatorades National Baseball Student Athlete of the Year. Although he was regraded as a top prospect in baseball, he turned down Miami’s baseball scholarship and never played college baseball. He opted to sign a three-year contract with the Seattle Mariners for $ 1.3 million and a $1 million signing bonus. He later signed with the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees. After retiring, Rodriguez became a media personality and serves as a broadcaster for Fox Sports.

Kat DeLuna

Singer, Songwriter

Kat DeLuna was born Kathleen Emeratriz DeLuna on November 26th, 1987 in Bronx, New York. At an early age her family moved to the Dominican Republic but returned to the US when DeLuna was 14. Her family and friends recognized her talent after hearing her perform onstage at the age of twelve. As a teenager she began pursing music. She signed with Epic Records and released her debut single “Whine Up” in 2007. The single landed on the top 40 in many countries as well as topping the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Charts. She won “Best New Artist”, “Best Urban Artist”, “Best International Artist” and won an award for “Latin Dance Club Play Track of the Year” for her single “Whine Up”. Her debut album, 9 Lives, did not garner the same success as her hit single. Sadly, she was dropped from Epic Records and continued to record soundtrack singles and collaborations. She released new singles such as “Sobredosis”, “Wanna See U Dance”, “Bum Bum” and “What a Night” from 2012-2016. In 2018 she released the single “Nueva Actitud” and most recently DeLuna released her new single “Last Night in Miami”.

Prince Royce

Singer- songwriter

Prince Royce was born as Geoffrey Royce Rojas on May 11, 1989 in Bronx, New York. He is the second oldest of four children. His mother worked at a beauty salon and his father drove a taxicab. At an early age he took an interest in music and began experimenting with music in his teens. He competed in talent shoes and wrote poetry as a child. At the age of nineteen he met his manager Andres Hidalgo. His manager introduced him to Sergio George, who immediately signed him after listening to his demos. In 2010 he released his debut album, which generated two successful singles, “Stand by Me” and “Corazon Sin Cara”. Both songs reached number one on the Billboard charts and the album itself reached number one on the US Billboard Latin Albums and Tropical Charts. Royce released his second album, Phase II, which reached number one on both the Tropical Album and US Latin Album charts. His third album, Soy el Mismo, earned him a second nomination for the Latin Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Tropical Album. In 2015, Royce released a fourth album, primarily in English called Double Vision. He recorded singles along side notable names such as Jennifer Lopez and Snoop Dogg. In 2018, Royce married actress Emeraude Toubia in a small ceremony in San Miguel, Mexico.

Frank Medrano

Online Trainer

Frank Medrano is a calisthenic expert and vegan athlete, who helps motivate and train others to improve their health. He began training in his late 20’s because of his unhealthy lifestyle. Medrano began to build his brand after using resistance machines and weight rooms that did not allow him to reach his full potential. After seeing online videos of calisthenics, Medrano decided to give it a try. He began to see a change in his physique through his vegan lifestyle and bodyweight exercises. Today he promotes healthy living and a alternative approach to exercise.