Editor's note: Watch tonight's final episode of "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us" on the National Geographic Channel.
Just across the Upper Bay from Ellis Island, Brooklyn has historically been a convenient stop for first-generation immigrants to the United States.
They're drawn by entrenched pockets of ethnic groupings—neighborhoods known for retaining traditions, foods, and language from the old country. Brooklyn's a place where an immigrant can feel comfortable making the transition. And many stay, further solidifying the enclaves.
In 1983, when these photos were published, most of Brooklyn's neighborhoods were less about cartographic perimeters than old-country affiliations. Many of Brooklyn's neighborhoods continue to be drawn on ethnic lines, but the dominant ethnicities are shifting in some places.
It's largely a case of ethnic groups expanding. The 2010 U.S. Census revealed the highest percentage of foreign-born New York City citizens on record.
In this photo, teenagers show off their Trans Am in Bensonhurst, which after World War II became an Italian-dominated neighborhood. Today, the number of Chinese immigrants—pushed out of Manhattan's Chinatown by high rents—is booming.
Picture Archive: 1980s Brooklyn
Brooklyn's neighborhoods in the 1980s showed their ethnic roots.