New York is a city where you can meet almost all the cultures and nationalities of the world and their associated traditions, customs and cuisines. Thanks to its gigantic size, all this enormous diversity, which is due to a significant influx of immigrants in the past, can easily fit into it.
Most of the immigrants who came to America for a better life settled in New York or its immediate surroundings. It is this amazing mix of cultures and styles that makes New York New York and gives it its distinctive face. In addition to immigrants, wealthier people have also started to move to the city in recent years, which has an effect on reconstructions and the creation of new high-rise buildings. Thanks to these people, the whole area comes into balance.
If you want to soak up a bit of Asian culture in New York, or try traditional Asian cuisine, visit the Chinatown area. It is located on Mott St. and Pell St. in Manhattan. It is a closed community with a large number of Chinese immigrants, which began to emerge here already in the mid-1870s. This place is not much different from other Chinatowns that you can find in other American cities. Manhattan’s Chinatown is the third largest “Chinatown” in the United States – the largest you would find in San Francisco.
- 800zipcodes.com: offers a full list of U.S. cities starting with Z.
The neighborhood is currently filled with restaurants, cafes, bookstores, antique shops, spices and various rarities. The most striking symbols of Chinatown, however, are the signboards of Chinese shops and the pagoda-like roofs. You can find such canopies on almost everything you look at, they decorate both banks and even telephone booths. The last such wooden pagoda roof can be found at 41 Mott Street. A walk through Chinatown is thus more than interesting and the district is definitely worth exploring. The streets have both English and Chinese names, so orientation is not a problem.
One of Chinatown’s landmarks is the Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1801. Masses are held every day in Cantonese and English. Originally this church was built for English Lutherans, but in 1853 it was sold to an Irish Roman Catholic congregation. Before serving the Chinese community, he also attracted the attention of the Italian community. The Eastern States Buddhist Temple, which is filled with candles and offerings to more than a hundred golden Buddhas, is highly revered. If you’re interested in Chinese culture, visit the small Chinese museum Museum of Chinese in the Americas, where really fascinating exhibitions are held regularly.
In the past, people avoided the cul-de-sac of Doyers Street, better known as the Bloody Angle. It was here that feuding Chinese street gangs, the so-called “Tongs”, settled their accounts. In Chatham Square you can see a bronze statue of the philosopher Confucius. One of the most interesting events that take place in the district is a five-week long festival celebrating the arrival of the Lunar New Year. On the first day, the date of which changes every year, there are always huge celebrations. Most of the celebrations take place at the end of January or beginning of February.
Chinatown is definitely worth a visit, here you will breathe history, the Chinese mentality and you will be interested in American architecture, which has already been greatly influenced by Chinese architecture over the years. Currently, the district has expanded to the neighboring Italian district of Little Italy. Canal Street, which was a distinct dividing line, is today one big street market with Chinese shops offering strange herbs, roots, vegetables and other foods. Heading further west, you will come across shops and boutiques offering Chinese souvenirs, clothes, perfumes and even interesting designer pieces. Shopping in Chinatown is simply a joy.
Not far from Chinatown lies another distinctive district called Little Italy, which is characterized by high-quality Italian restaurants, cafes, delicatessens, shops and places associated with the legendary Sicilian mafia. The center of this precinct in Manhattan is Mullberry Street, located north of Canal Street. It was here that immigrants from Italy moved in at the beginning of the 20th century, which is why even today the most Italians, or their descendants, live here in all of New York. The neighborhood of Little Italy and Chinatown has caused considerable inconvenience in the past, as the two parts of the city have been constantly competing with each other. Nowadays, fortunately, the situation is calm and the two districts work side by side without any problems. However, Little Italy is shrinking year by year at the expense of Chinatown.
Despite the considerable age of the Little Italy district, Italian customs are still maintained here today. Every year around the 19th of September, the Feast of San Gennaro is held for ten days. The streets are full of food stalls during these celebrations, music can be heard everywhere and dancing is everywhere. The center of all the action is the Church of the Most Precious Blood on Mullberry Street. Unfortunately, this street is also notorious for being the haunt of gang and organized crime leaders. Before his imprisonment, the head of the criminal organization John Gotti used to hang out here. He liked and regularly visited the Ravenite Social Club in number 247. At Umberto’s Clam House No. 129, gangster Joey Gallo was shot again in 1972 during his birthday party.
In Little Italy you will also find interesting historical monuments, such as the Neo-Gothic Cathedral of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, which dominates the surrounding area. It was built in 1815 and is thus one of the oldest churches in the city. In the 1860s, it had to be rebuilt after a big fire. Its first congregation was Irish, a small Italian congregation was established in the 1880s. Another interesting building in Little Italy is the 1816 Stephen Van Rensselaer House, which features a brick facade, mansard roof and dormers. The New York City Police Headquarters was housed in a magnificent baroque building from 1909, which thus became a symbol of the modern police force. However, in the 1980s, this headquarters was converted into luxury apartments.
Little Italy is undoubtedly a more than interesting neighborhood, in addition to these important monuments, you will also find attractive original buildings that today house bakeries, Italian specialty shops or restaurants. In addition, you can find Italian cheeses, pizza or traditional pasta salads here almost at every turn. New Yorkers also don’t let go of real Italian cappuccino here, that’s why they love to go here and Little Italy is still very popular.