Few Manhattan neighborhoods are more difficult to pin down than Chinatown. While Chinatown is in-arguably and indubitably on Manhattan’s lower-lower east side, on the streets between the Bowery and Lafayette Street and Houston Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown is also growing -- in more ways than one -- faster than just about any neighborhood in Manhattan.
Though still best known for its Chinese restaurants, jewelry district and food shopping, Chinatown is also home to a bustling multicultural scene, including a host of hip nightlife spots and restaurants -- not all of them Chinese, either. And always, always, Chinatown is expanding. After having engulfed much of what was once Little Italy -- what remains of Little Italy is the bustling, tourist-heavy restaurant row on Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets, and feels most Italian during the annual San Gennaro festival -- Chinatown continues to develop as its own unique community.
Still unmistakably Asian in its culture -- China predominates, but it is also home to Thai groceries, Vietnamese restaurants, and other enclaves of Asian culture -- Chinatown is now as residential as it is commercial, and home to a burgeoning crop of luxury rental apartment buildings. The century-old tenement-style structures that once defined the neighborhoods architectural look are still there, but new construction luxury buildings continue to rise on Chinatown's eastern edge, and more are on the way. Chinatown, as per usual, is changing.