Most Maltese immigrants came to the United States during the first decades of the 20th century after the discharge of skilled workers from the Royal British Dockyard in 1919 following the end of World War I. More than 1,300 Maltese came to the United States in the first quarter of 1920. Many people found work in the automobile industry, and with about 5,000 residents, Detroit had the largest Maltese population in the United States. Maltese in Detroit focuses on the many people of Maltese descent who made their homes in Detroit’s Corktown area. By the mid-1920s, it is believed that more than 15,000 Maltese had settled in the United States. After World War II , the Maltese government launched a program to pay passage for Maltese willing to immigrate and remain abroad for at least two years. By the mid-1990s, an estimated more than 70,000 Maltese immigrants and descendants were living in the United States, with the largest single community in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs.
Diane Gale Andreassi was born in Detroit to Rita (Borg) and James Gale. Andreassi’s mother was from Sliema, Malta, and her father, James, was born and raised in Mosta, Malta. Both of them immigrated to Detroit and met in the city’s Corktown community, where they were married and started their family; with that, her father changed his name from Galea to Gale.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.