Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on new york’s chinatown: a reflection of the city. In the case of a city like New York, the great influx of cultures that have come together to form what we know as America can be appreciated because of the way in which the city continues to remain culturally segregated to a great extent. While the various nationalities obviously mix and move about a great deal, the most general characterization of New York City must be reflective of its cultural representation as pockets of the city reflect the national characteristics of the people who have gathered there. An examination into one particular area of New York, Chinatown, illustrates this characteristic element of the city at large.
In examining the various elements that comprised early conceptions of Chinatown, it is helpful to have an idea of the specifics of the area and the physical image people of New York had of the Chinese. As the below map demonstrates, Chinatown consists of basically three streets.
Although the space available to the residents of Chinatown is demonstrably small, the people managed to find room enough for everyone to live by using thin wooden dividers or simply respecting each other’s space. The crowded nature of this housing is somewhat visible in the below photo taken of Pell Street in 1899.
The buildings that can be seen in the image typically housed commercial businesses on the floor level, clubhouses or public rooms on the next level and living quarters above this. The high number of people in the street is indicative of Chinatown on an average weekend, when the population of this segment of the city was usually much higher as those working in other areas of New York returned home or simply visited Chinatown for a sense of society and community.
According to Helen Clark (1896), Chinatown wasn’t exclusively Chinese even in her time, yet the environment seemed completely unique to the Chinese culture. .
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