Chinatowns in Queens

Some cities of the United States of America have large settlements, inhabited by the Chinese, that bear a common name – Chinatown. In New York City, there is one such of towns in Manhattan, specifically in its lower east side; this settlement covers two square miles (“Chinatown New York City” 1). The history of Chinatown dates back to the 1800s when the Chinese people began migrating to the United States to work in the manufacturing and the construction works (“Chinatown New York City” 1). These people were well organized, which caused some fear among Americans and discomfort, thus resulting in the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act 1882-1943 (Vigdor 13). Upon the removal of the immigration restrictions in 1968, the growth of Chinatown gained momentum. Soon, this area became the home for jewelry, garment factories, restaurants, and banks and the town continues to exist up to date (“Chinatown New York City” 1).

The Spatial Pattern

Chinatown is a place that holds shops, residential buildings, monuments, and landmarks as well as recreational areas. Chatham Square is a memorial site for the Chinese American casualties of World War II, located off the Worth and Bowery Streets and towards the south is the First Shearith Israel Cemetery (“Chinatown New York City” 2). Near the Manhattan Bridge lies the Fujianese Broadway that hosts shops for the Fujianese community. In the north of Chatham Square lies the Doyers Street – a home for various movies and TV shows (“Chinatown New York City” 2). Further, Mott Street is also a good site for restaurants and shops, the Chinese Community Center, and the Eastern States Buddhist Temple as well as the location for Chinatown’s oldest retail outlet (“Chinatown New York City” 3). At the intersection of Worth, Mosco, and Baxter Streets, one can find the Five Points south of the Columbus Park. This was the place for hosting Irish and German immigrants. After the Columbus Park, which serves as a recreational site, one can visit the Museum of Chinese in Americas (“Chinatown New York City” 3). Further, Pell Street is famous for its barber and beauty shops, while towards its junction with Bowery Street is the Edward Mooney House, built in 1785; now, it houses the Summit Mortgage Bank (“Chinatown New York City” 3). Based on the above information, one can see that numerous streets, shops, and markets as well as landmarks distributed across Chinatown, which implies an even occupation of the land.

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Residential and Commercial Types

The Chinese community has households of an average of 3.12 people, and they usually live in crowded conditions, but a significant number of them owns their homes as opposed to living in rental houses (“Chinatown New York City” 3). Regarding commercial types found in the area, Chinatown hosts the transport industry, manufacturing, banking, hotel and hospitality, tourism and the retail industry. The garment factories provide employment to many people, thus paying salaries of over $200 million annually (“Chinatown New York City” 1). The jewelry industry, on the other hand, makes over $ 100 million every year from diamond and gold sales (“Chinatown New York City” 1). The town is also a home to over 200 restaurants that promote local tourism by hosting thousands of tourists, while the Holiday Inn Downtown is an example of local lodges (“Chinatown New York City” 4). Such monuments as Chatham Square act as the sources of tourist attraction while banks, such as the Summit Mortgage Bank, provide employments as well as financial resources to investors (“Chinatown New York City” 3). The above information depicts Chinatown as a home for diverse economic activities that ensure people’s welfare since many businesses offer employment to local residents.



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Chinatown hosts the largest number of immigrants in New York City, and these people come from different ethnic groups. In the 1800s, the area hosted freed slaves, Irish, and German immigrants. In the 1900s, the Jews from Eastern Europe and Italians also settled in the area (“Chinatown New York City” 1). Currently, the largest number of Chinese people from the Guangdong, Fujian, and Tosian provinces in China as well as Hongkong reside in Chinatown (“Chinatown New York City” 1). In 2000, 64% of the population were Asians, and the dominant ones were Chinese, followed by Asian Indians, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Whites (Asian American Federation of New York 1). The number of children reduced while that of working adults and senior people respectively increased (Asian American Federation of New York 2). The town is dominated by immigrants, mostly Asians born in Asia who migrated to the country between 1990 and 2000. Chinatown has low formal education as compared to the neighboring areas, and thus, there are many adults with even less than a high school diploma, and 45% of adults had not obtained a ninth-grade level of education in 2000 (Asian American Federation of New York 2). However, the literacy gap between males and females is not large. In the neighborhood, some immigrant groups include Puerto Ricans, Burmese, Dominicans, Vietnamese, and West Africans (“Chinatown New York City” 1). The above figures depict Chinatown as a home for immigrants in New York, especially Asians, thus exposing it as a predominant home for the Chinese people.


The Cantonese dialect from the southern part of China was formerly the dominant language before the rise of the Mandarin dialect (the Chinese national language, and it is popular with the latest immigrants (Semple). The Mandarin dialect is widespread in churches, restaurants, parks, schools, and markets (Semple). Many Chinese American parents, who speak Cantonese, encourage their children to learn Mandarin, thus promoting its popularity. The two dialects share the same letters, but they have different pronunciations (Semple). Even though the Chinese immigrants learn the English language, the majority of them has no knowledge of the language; for instance, 31%, 63%, and 88% of Chinese children, adults, and seniors respectively have problems speaking English (Asian American Federation 2). Other dialects are also spoken in the area, and these include Fuzhou, Wu Chinese, Min Nan, Fujianese, Wenzhounese, Beijing, Shanghainese, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Taiwanese among others (Semple). The above data shows that the area has different languages as the result of numerous immigrants who come from different countries.

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The Cultural Landscape

Chinatown is a home for Chinese culture, which stems from the high number of Chinese immigrants. The neighborhood hosts the Kim Lau Memorial Arch erected in Chatman Square, and this statue of the philosopher has been erected as a way of commemorating him (“Chinatown New York City Fact” 2). Mott Street is also a cultural symbol since it hosts the 41 Mott Street building – the only one with a pagoda roof made up of wood, which symbolizes Chinese culture (“Chinatown New York City” 3). The Museum of Chinese in Americas provides special exhibitions about Chinese history, poetry, and personal stories (“Chinatown New York City” 3). The Columbus Park is a ground for tai chi, mahjong practice, and home for Chinese fortune tellers. Further, Chinatown city is a hotbed of Chinese culture in New York since it hosts several of annual occasions. Thus, the Chinese New Year is celebrated between January and February and it is the biggest annual holiday, during which families decorate their homes in red and gold, and they give their children red packets full of money (“Chinatown New York City” 4). There is also the Lantern Festival, during which the Chinese Dragon and the Lion dance while people hang lanterns in the streets as well as in their homes. On every 15th day of the seventh lunar month comes the Ghost Festival that marks the offerings to appease the spirits. Other cultural events include the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chung Yang/Double Yang Festival, during which people visit the graves of their ancestors to pay them respect (“Chinatown New York City Fact” 4). Thus, it is obvious that Chinatown is a home for Chinese culture in New York.

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The establishment of Chinatowns in the United States is interesting as it describes the Chinese as people who can quickly overcome environmental barriers to settle in a foreign land. The Chinatown of New York has a spatial pattern, consisting of streets shops, markets, landmarks, and monuments as well as parks. The Chinese people live in households of 3.12 people, and most of them have their own homes. Their commercial activities include the manufacturing, banking, hotel and hospitality, tourism and the retail industries. In the past, the hosted freed slaves, Irish, and German immigrants but later, it began to accommodate Italians, the Jews from Europe, and people from various Chinese provinces as well as Asian Indians. The population had a trend of reduced number of children while adults and elderly grew in numbers. Formal education is not satisfactory in the area, and a sizeable part of population does not speak English at all. The Chinese Mandarin dialect is the dominant language, but there are also other several dialects based on the different provinces. The cultural landscape of Chinatown includes the landmarks as well as the festivals that take place there quite often. Thus, Chinatown is a gem in New York City due to the presence of immigrants from many parts of the world and the blend of various cultural aspects.

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