Puerto Ricans have been coming to the mainland throughout the twentieth century.
But the “Great Migration” of Puerto Ricans to the mainland began in the mid-1940s, at the end of World War II, and lasted until the middle of the 1960s.
Crowded conditions and unemployment on the island stirred many Puerto Ricans to move to the United States, which was enjoying an economic boom in those years. Inexpensive airline travel made it easy: Puerto Ricans were the first large group of newcomers to come to the United States by airplane.
From 1940 to 1950 alone, the number of Puerto Ricans in the United States more than tripled, from 70,000 to 226,000. Since the 1960s, migration from Puerto Rico has continued, though at a slower pace.
More than two million people of Puerto Rican ancestry now live on the U.S. mainland. This is more than half as many Puerto Ricans as live on Puerto Rico.
Even rain can’t dampen the enthusiasm of these onlookers at New York City’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade.