One of the largest Chinatown’s in the USA features every kind of Chinese cuisine, grocery store and herbalist, and a history rich in Asian, as well as European, heritage.
New York City’s Chinatown is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. The sights and smells of herbal shops, grocers and noodle cafés selling fare from every province in China make this part of Manhattan a sensory feast. With a history that stretches back to the first Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants, Chinatown-Manhattan is also one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City.
In the 1840s this area was home to Irish, Jewish, German and Italian immigrants. While Chinese immigrants began coming to the Lower East Side in the 1870s, it was not until the late 1960s that the community began to establish itself.
Chinatown is best explored on foot. Stroll along the streets and enjoy the atmosphere. On Mott, Canal and Grand streets are Chinese groceries that display mountains of dried fish, beans, spices, fruits and vegetables. Visit the herbal pharmacies with their long wooden drawers filled with Chinese medicines made from recipes that date back thousands of years.
Follow your nose to discover some of New York's most inexpensive and tastiest meals. The small shops, street carts and hole-in-the-wall cafés offer the best choices with their noodle and dumplings specialties. Pick up a plate of steamed rice rolls, steamed pork buns or a bowel of noodle soup. For dessert, sample the flakey egg custard tarts.
Walk down historic Pell Street and see the Church of the Transfiguration, established in 1801 for Lutheran immigrants. Visit Edward Mooney House, the oldest townhouse in Manhattan, and the oldest Jewish cemetery in New York, the Shearith Israel Cemetery, built in 1683. View the golden Buddha at the Mahayana Buddhist temple, explore the archives of the Museum of Chinese in America and see the first tenements at Five Points, made famous by the Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York. Many of the streets in Chinatown lead in to Chatham Square where the Kim Lau Memorial Arch stands. When your feet need a break, relax in Columbus Park where you can watch locals practicing tai chi or playing a game of checkers.
Located in Lower Manhattan, Chinatown’s closest subways are Canal, Grand and East Broadway.