ChinatownChinatown is a neighborhood that is located in Manhattan and features a Chinese influence. The location sits alongside Little Italy, both of which are located on Manhattan Island in New York City. The location is one of the oldest Chinese communities that is not located in Asia.
The neighborhood got its start when the first Chinese individual immigrated and settled in the area. His name was Ah Ken, and he had grown up in China as a successful Cantonese businessman. After arriving in America, he was looking to start a business, and eventually founded a cigar store that was located on Park Row inside of Chinatown. It was common for Chinese immigrants to open their own shops, or find work in other cigar shops. This fact has been documented in a number of books that were written about the early days of Chinatown in New York City. This is likely because the profession was also one that was popular and widely known in China at the time.
The area was dominated by a series of loose associations of families, or clans, in the early days of the neighborhood. Most had come to America in search of employment during troubled times in China. A number of different restaurants quickly opened up in the neighborhood, serving traditional Chinese food to the residents that lived there.
The growth of the neighborhood was furthered by the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was ramified in 1882. At the time, the population of the area was sitting at around 2,000 full time residents. In less than 20 years, the population of Chinatown more than tripled to 7,000 Chinese immigrants. Strangely, less than 200 of these residents were women. In the early years, warfare would break out between rival clans. Although they had banded together to form the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, it was clear that some of the deep seeded misunderstandings would not be forgotten, even in a new country. Most of the violence took place on Doyers Street, which eventually became the home of some of the most prolific Chinese gangs during the late 20th century.
In 1965, when the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed, the population of Chinatown skyrocketed. The passing of the act allowed many more Asian immigrants into the country.
The area was also negatively affected by the events that took place on September 11th, 2001. Because Chinatown was so close in proximity to the location of Ground Zero and the former location of the Twin Towers, tourism and business disappeared and has been very slow to make a return to the area. Despite the fact that officials in the area have done everything in their power to make Chinatown more attractive to sightseers and tourists, they have been unable to achieve the success that they had found prior to September 11th, 2001. The location has become a New York City staple, showing the significance of immigration in America and New York City throughout the last 200 years.