Like Chinese food, Chinatowns can be found throughout the world. But Chinatown in New York City stands out, and not just because it has the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia. Colorful Chinese ornamentation, even-more-colorful cuisine and a thousand species of retail are everywhere in the neighborhood that runs from the Bowery to Lafayette Street and between Houston Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. The constantly growing Chinatown has largely swallowed what was once Little Italy -- although the stretch of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets is still full of Italian eateries and hungry tourists -- and become a community unto itself, and yet distinctly New York.
Unsurprisingly, Chinese culture is palpable everywhere in Chinatown -- from the Confucius statue, a common meeting place, to the more than two hundred Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood. Chinese green groceries and fish mongers are clustered around Mott, Mulberry and Canal Streets and all along East Broadway. Bargain shoppers hunting for knockoff perfumes, watches and handbags flock to Canal Street, west of Broadway, between Mott and Bowery. But while much of Chinatown remains defiantly Chinese -- and while much of the housing stock is of the century-old-tenement variety -- the neighborhood continues to change just as surely as it grows. Old buildings have been renovated into contemporary comfort, and new construction rental and co-op housing has sprouted up from East Broadway to the eastern edges of Nolita. For all those changes, though, Chinatown is still, and will always be, Chinatown. New Yorkers wouldn’t have it any other way.