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CHINATOWN NOIR

PART 1

Story by Tewfic El-Sawy 10 de febrero de 2017

Manhattan’s Chinatown

Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest concentrations of Chinese people outside of China. Still comprising more than 90,000 inhabitants as of today, its colorful banners and bustling street marketplaces are a persisting fixture of Lower Manhattan. It can trace the start of its history down to Guangzhou-born businessman Ah Ken; the first person to permanently settle in the area's Mott Street and opened a cigar shop in Park Row in 1858. All Photographs Copyright

All Photographs © 2016-2017 Tewfic El-Sawy/The Travel Photographer. Fuji X-Pro2 + Fuji 18mm f2 + Fuji 16-55mm f2.8

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Manhattan's Chinatown is still resisting the laws of the real-estate market. It is populated by low-income Chinese, its shops are still mainly small operations, and it remains a cultural and commercial hub for locals, New Yorkers and other tourists. However, some restaurants have gone out of business (and continue to close down) because of higher rents, and a handful of modern hotels and condominiums have sprouted in choice locations.

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Many of the immigrants' children have left for college and never returned, and as other families have moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Flushing, most of the people left in Chinatown are elderly dwellers of rent-regulated apartments.

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An influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and the Fujian Province during the 1900s helped the neighborhood to solidify its identity. By 1980, it held the largest community of Chinese in the United States. The immigrants were from different regions of China - Cantonese-speaking immigrants from Hong Kong and later Mandarin-speaking Fujianese immigrants.


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Chinese immigrants flocked into Chinatown from the mainland. They expanded Chinatown much further than it started, taking over parts of Little Italy. They would purchase buildings and apartments to turn into businesses selling garments and goods using cash. They also started to receive foreign investments from Hong Kong.

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Canal Street is the heart of New York City's Chinatown, and was once a real canal. It was basically an open sewer and a public health hazard, so it was filled in 1819 and it later became a street in 1820.


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However, Sunset Park is currently New York's largest Chinatown, with 34,218 Chinese residents, up from 19,963 in 2000. Flushing ranks second, with 33,526 Chinese, up from 17,363.

In contrast, Chinatown's Chinese population has dropped from 34,554 to 28,681 since 2000.


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Footnote: All Photographs © 2016-2017 Tewfic El-Sawy/The Travel Photographer. Fuji X-Pro2 + Fuji 18mm f2 + Fuji 16-55mm f2.8
Chinatown, New York, NY, United States