Thursday, October 26, 2006


The People of Chinatown

Chinatown is a surprisingly diverse neighborhood. Since the 1800’s the area today called Chinatown has been home to the highest number of immigrants in New York, representing a variety of ethnic groups. In the mid-1800’s, the Irish, Germans, and freed slaves resided here and by the late 1880’s and into early 1900’s the next wave of immigrants brought Eastern European Jews, Chinese, and Italians. Today, the majority of Chinatown's inhabitants are from the Guangdong, Toisan and Fujian Providences in China as well as Hong Kong. The Cantonese community today is well established in this area whereas the Fujianese people, who come from Fujian Province on the southern coast of mainland China, are considered the “new immigrants”. The neighborhood is also home to Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Burmese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and West Africans, among others.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

how about the influx of new non-imigrant residents in chinatown and gentrification? is chinatown at risk of losing its new immigrant base? How has chinatown continued to grow while little italy has essentially become just a tourist attraction?

9:35 AM  
Blogger Carmen said...

I think that the new influx of non-immigrants is adding to the mix of faces you see on the streets of Chinatown. With the neighborhood's proximity to SoHo and Tribeca and the prices of apartments in Chinatown being relatively cheaper than those neighborhoods, people are moving to Chinatown and seeing the value of being in a community where restaurants, shopping, and activities abound. Chinese immigrants have been moving out of Manhattan's Chinatown and into Flushing, Queens - aka the Queens Chinatown. But, you can still find a lot of families who have stayed in Chinatown and live and work in the area, albeit fewer than in the past. Little Italy has shrunk down to about 4 blocks and is now mostly a tourist attraction lined with Italian restaurants and bakeries. Here, you won't find Italian families living in this 4 block vicinity. It'll be interesting to see how gentrification changes the face of Chinatown and if the Chinatown culture will be eroded or stay strong despite the shift.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to me, the most interesting aspect is how Little Italy has been co-existing with Chinatown, side-by-side, for so long ...

3:35 AM  

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