Things to Do in Chinatown New York
Things to Do in Chinatown New York
Chinatown is one of the most famous neighborhoods in New York, and as its name indicates, it is a site inhabited by the largest Chinese ethnic group outside of Asia. Within the United States it is the second most populated of all Chinatowns, since the first is San Francisco.
Chinatown is in Lower Manhattan, bordering other famous neighborhoods: Little Italy, Soho, Tribeca and Lower East Side.
During the last years Chinatown grew in such a way that it absorbed a large part of Little Italy and part of the Lower East Side, which makes it difficult to pinpoint its current limits.
Chinatown is undoubtedly one of the most exotic areas to visit in Manhattan, each corner is full of vibrant colors and typical aromas that immerse its visitors in a very authentic Asian atmosphere. In addition, it is an area with a lot of commercial activity and is in constant movement. There are food stalls everywhere (both day and night), street stalls with exotic fruits, buckets of fish and shops where you can buy all kinds of natural remedies. It is also possible to have a massage in many of the booths available where prices are visible at the entrance and are usually quite cheap.
It is common to see the signs written in Chinese, even McDonald’s has its sign at the entrance translated into Chinese. On the other hand, when walking you can often hear people talking in Cantonese and Mandarin on the streets since many of its inhabitants do not speak English and rarely leave the “borders” of Manhattan’s Chinatown.
Here is a list of essential sites when visiting this particular site:
This is the largest park in the neighborhood and the usual meeting point for the elderly of the Chinese community. It is common to see them every morning on the benches reading the newspaper, practicing tai chi, playing a few games of mahjong or even playing musical instruments and singing traditional songs.
Very close to Columbus Park is the Kimlau War Memorial, erected in honor of Chinese-Americans who have fallen in combat in defense of freedom and democracy.
As a peculiar fact, it was Martin Scorsese who made Chinatown the setting for his movie Gangs of New York.
It is the main street and backbone of Chinatown. Here you can find the information center, decorated with a dragon. It can be somewhat chaotic and noisy due to the large volume of people who pass through it.
Here you can also find the famous fashion imitation stores. It is common to find street vendors offering watches, perfumes, bags, etc. imitating prestigious brands at interesting prices.
Mahayana Buddhist temple
At 133 Canal Street in Chinatown, the Mahayana Buddhist temple is located, which houses the largest Buddha in the city, 5 meters high. Dating from 1962, it became the first Buddhist temple on the East Coast.
It is not easy to find it because its facade is not that of a typical Buddhist temple. A donation is usually requested to gain access and in exchange a paper of fortune or incense is delivered.
It is an alley with only 61 meters long with a lot of charm and ideal for taking pictures.
Long ago, it was known as Bloody Angle or Murder Alley because there were frequent street fights between rival Chinese gangs who fought for control of various criminal activities in the area. It was also a meeting place for opium smokers and other activities such as prostitution. Today, there are Chinese businesses of all kinds, barbershops, the famous dim sum restaurant Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and restaurants and nightclubs.
In the cinema you can find several references to this street. One of the films that best portrays her is “Gangs of New York” by Martin Scorsese. So does “The Godfather.”
The Church of the Transfiguration
It was built in 1801 as a Lutheran church. Around 1860 it became Roman Catholic and today it is one of the largest Catholic Chinese churches in the West. It is attended by the Chinese parishioners of the neighborhood as mass is offered in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
Enjoy the best Chinese food
In this neighborhood you can find many restaurants and bars where you can try some of the best Asian specialties in Manhattan. Some of them are:
Xi’s a Famous Food: Ideal for lovers of spicy food. Located at 45 Bayard Street.
Big Wing Wong: This is a traditional Cantonese restaurant. With quite cheap prices you can find it at 102 Mott Street
Buddha Bodai: An excellent alternative for those who are vegetarians where most dishes are less than $15. It is located at 5 Mott Street very close to Columbus Park.
Canal Street Market: It is a food hall specialized in Asian food that has several food stalls where you can find very diverse alternatives for less than $15. You can eat right there or order a take away to have a picnic in Columbus Park. This site is located at 265 Canal Street.
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Qué hacer en Chinatown
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