The name Deli comes from the German word Delikatessen (German for Delicacies). Deli’s came to New York as the population of German and Eastern European Jews fled religious and social oppression, by immigrating to the United States, between 1900 and 1938. As New York City was the Point-Of-Entry for these immigrants, many stayed. After all they were unable to speak English, speaking German and Yiddish (an 14th century derivation of German) and so tended to stay within the community.
The majority of these “New Americans” settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, thus the very first Deli’s were located in this area. The area was bounded by the East River, Little Italy and Wall Street. Initially, these Deli’s and the other area restaurants were kept “Kosher”, but as people from other parts of the city took to the idea of Deli, many non-Kosher Deli’s began to appear.
In New York today, you cannot go very far without finding a local Deli and the neighbourhoods consider their deli to be the best.