You are currently browsing the stories about the Chinatown neighborhood

Paradise in Chinatown

by 07/24/2022
Neighborhood: Chinatown

It is blazing hot at midday in Chinatown, June, 2022. The doors to the Church of the Transfiguration on Mott Street are open, so I decide to duck in to cool off. “Lord, give us eyes to see,” a young Asian priest recites the offertory prayers. The church is small with cream walls and wooden […]

Life and Death in Chinatown

by 11/22/2020
Neighborhood: Chinatown

I didn’t know Chuen Kwok, an 83-year-old homeless man bludgeoned to death last year while sleeping in the entryway of a Chinatown store. Chances are, I wouldn’t have, since I speak neither Cantonese, Fujianese nor Mandarin. I am one of a growing cadre of non-Chinese moving into the neighborhood and contributing to the area’s gentrification. […]

Battered Carnations

by 08/31/2014
Neighborhood: Chinatown

To say that I am not a morning person is both unimaginative and a gross understatement. Each day I try to avoid the morning, altogether. When I wake up in the afternoon, it takes me multiple cups of water and coffee as well as several scrolls through my Instagram feed to regain my pleasant disposition. […]

Real Estate Rhetoric: A User’s Guide

by 03/02/2014
Neighborhood: All Over, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Chinatown, Harlem, Hell's Kitchen, Williamsburg

 Affordable housing. For most New Yorkers the term is an oxymoron. Niklas and I moved to the West Village when we got married a few years ago, a romantic notion if not an especially realistic one. In the beginning we joked that we could live on love. But a sandwich is also nice sometimes. As […]

They Steal Young Girls

by 03/23/2009
Neighborhood: Chinatown

“You can’t walk around here! They steal young girls and sell them as slaves.” Grandma’s voice hit a higher pitch with each syllable, her blue eyes sparking with agitation behind the dark rims of her glasses. I was momentarily stunned by her vehemence as much as by her words. We were in the backseat of […]

A Blue Chicken, and My First Naked Lady

by 06/22/2008
Neighborhood: Chinatown

Growing up on Staten Island, a trip to Manhattan, while covering only several miles, and less than an hour away, was an adventure. There are things I remember about “going to the city” from my childhood. I remember holding my ears and laughing when the horn of the Staten Island Ferry sounded. I remember eating […]

Moving with My Father

by 06/29/2006
Neighborhood: Chinatown

My dad was helping me, his oldest daughter, carry a stuffed duffel bag up a dirty Chinatown staircase, in a dirty Chinatown building, with no-longer-usable brooms on the landings and cigarette butts on the sills. We could hear babies crying though the walls, drowning out television sets. He asked if I was sure I would […]

I Hate New York, I Like Beijing

by 06/04/2006
Neighborhood: Chinatown

I am one of those people who can’t stand New York. The first time I was in New York I was mugged by a young Hispanic man wielding a Phillips head screwdriver. It was long ago, I was young, and not about to give him $20, all the money I had. We went into a […]

Love and Money at Sun Lin Garden

by 06/04/2006
Neighborhood: Chinatown

It’s common practice for a bar/restaurant to save their first dollar and hang it on the wall. Sometimes it’s framed. Other times it’s taped. But it’s up there for luck. Or at least celebration. A sort of diploma from the school of capitalism. Some businesses even save their first dollar bill, five dollar bill, ten […]

Foxy Kropotkin

by 10/20/2005
Neighborhood: Chinatown

All night Foxy Kropotkin had thrown the covers on and off. It had been hours since she told Virginia to get her an orange soda. She thought to herself, Larry’s not cold yet three days—but I still have the credit card. In an instant she was out of bed. She pulled her coat over her […]

TuCan: The $1 Kingdom

by 05/22/2005
Neighborhood: Chinatown

I have given my neighborhood a trendy new name. TuCan. What does it mean? Too Close to Canal Street. My windows are over Canal Street, but my street is named “Lispenard.” Have you heard of it? Neither has any cab driver in New York City. Every day, I attempt to direct them to it. They […]

Some Light, Some Don’t

by 03/10/2005
Neighborhood: Chinatown

We are in Chinatown looking for a good price on a Zippo lighter. My son wants one with with no logo, no Elvis face, no Mets, no #1 Stunner in fancy script. Just plain silver, the size of a matchbox, when matchboxes were the size of matchboxes. He’s fourteen and still looks nervous striking a […]