Chinese Americans in New York City
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|Ethnicity in New York City|
The New York metropolitan area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 735,019 individuals as of 2012, including at least 12 Chinatowns - six (or nine, including the emerging Chinatowns in Corona and Whitestone, Queens, and East Harlem, Manhattan) in New York City proper, and one each in Nassau County, Long Island; Edison, New Jersey; and Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area.
Chinese began arriving in New York City in the 19th century.
The first Chinese immigrants came to Lower Manhattan around 1870, looking for the "gold" America had to offer. By 1880, the enclave around Five Points was estimated to have from 200 to as many as 1,100 members. However, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which went into effect in 1882, caused an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who emigrated to New York and the rest of the United States. Later, in 1943, the Chinese were given a small quota, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 caused a revival in Chinese immigration, and the community's population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed.
New York City boroughs
As the city proper with the nation's largest Chinese American population by a wide margin, with an estimated 522,619 individuals in 2012, and as the primary destination for new Chinese immigrants, New York City is subdivided into official municipal boroughs, which themselves are home to significant Chinese populations, with Brooklyn and Queens, adjacently located on Long Island, leading the fastest growth.
|Rank||Borough||City||Chinese Americans||Density of Chinese Americans per square mile||Percentage of Chinese Americans in municipality's population|
|1||Queens||New York City||208,897||1,912.3||9.2|
|2||Brooklyn||New York City||195,750||2,772.3||7.6|
|3||Manhattan||New York City||97,461||4,244.8||6.0|
|4||Staten Island||New York City||13,620||232.9||2.9|
|5||The Bronx||New York City||6,891||164||0.5|
|Total||New York City||522,619||1,727.1||6.3|
Brooklyn and Queens are home to other Chinatowns. The Sunset Park Chinatown the Bensonhurst Chinatown and the Avenue U-Marine Park areas of Brooklyn and the Elmhurst and Flushing Chinatown areas of Queens have the other Chinatowns. The Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope areas of Brooklyn have also received Chinese settlement.
Manhattan's Chinatown holds the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Within Manhattan's expanding Chinatown lies Little Fuzhou on East Broadway and surrounding streets, occupied predominantly by immigrants from the Fujian Province of Mainland China. Areas surrounding "Little Fuzhou" consist mostly of Cantonese immigrants from Guangdong Province. In the past few years, however, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants. The energy and population of Manhattan's Chinatown are fueled by relentless, massive immigration from Mainland China, both legal and illegal in origin, propagated in large part by New York's high density of habitation, extensive mass transit system, and huge economic marketplace.
The early settlers of Manhattan's Chinatown were mostly from Hong Kong and from Taishan of the Guangdong Province of China, where Cantonese is spoken, and also from Shanghai. They form most of the Chinese population of the area surrounded by Mott and Canal Streets. The later settlers, from Fuzhou, Fujian, form the Chinese population of the area bounded by East Broadway. Chinatown's modern borders are roughly Delancey Street on the north, Chambers Street on the south, East Broadway on the east, and Broadway on the west.
The Flushing Chinatown, in the Flushing area of the borough of Queens in New York City, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside Asia, as well as within New York City itself. Main Street and the area to its west, particularly along Roosevelt Avenue, have become the primary nexus of Flushing Chinatown. However, Flushing Chinatown continues to expand southeastward along Kissena Boulevard and northward beyond Northern Boulevard. In the 1970s, a Chinese community established a foothold in the neighborhood of Flushing, whose demographic constituency had been predominantly non-Hispanic white. Taiwanese began the surge of immigration, followed by other groups of Chinese. By 1990, Asians constituted 41% of the population of the core area of Flushing, with Chinese in turn representing 41% of the Asian population. However, ethnic Chinese are constituting an increasingly dominant proportion of the Asian population as well as of the overall population in Flushing and its Chinatown. A 1986 estimate by the Flushing Chinese Business Association approximated 60,000 Chinese in Flushing alone. Mandarin Chinese (including Northeastern Mandarin), Fuzhou dialect, Min Nan Fujianese, Wu Chinese, Beijing dialect, Wenzhounese, Shanghainese, Suzhou dialect, Hangzhou dialect, Changzhou dialect, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and English are all prevalently spoken in Flushing Chinatown, while the Mongolian language is now emerging. Even the relatively obscure Dongbei style of cuisine indigenous to Northeast China is now available there. Given its rapidly growing status, the Flushing Chinatown may surpass in size and population the original New York City Chinatown in the Borough of Manhattan within a few years, and it is debatable that this may have already happened.
By 1988, 90% of the storefronts on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, were abandoned. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area, not only new arrivals from China, but also members of Manhattan's Chinatown seeking refuge from high rents, who flocked to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the Brooklyn Chinatown, which now extends for 20 blocks along 8th Avenue, from 42nd to 62nd Streets. This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past. However, in the recent decade, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been pouring into Brooklyn's Chinatown and supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly higher rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown, and Brooklyn's Chinatown is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants. In the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of newly arriving Fuzhou immigrants settled within Manhattan's Chinatown, and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged within Manhattan's Chinatown; by the first decade of the 21st century, however, the epicenter of the massive Fuzhou influx had shifted to Brooklyn's Chinatown, which is now home to the fastest-growing and perhaps largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou in Manhattan's Chinatown, which remains surrounded by areas which continue to house significant populations of Cantonese, all of Brooklyn's Chinatown is swiftly consolidating into New York City's new Little Fuzhou. However, a growing community of Wenzhounese immigrants from China's Zhejiang Province is now also arriving in Brooklyn's Chinatown. Also in contrast to Manhattan's Chinatown, which still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in its western section, where Cantonese residents have a communal venue to shop, work, and socialize, Brooklyn's Chinatown is very quickly losing its Cantonese community identity.
Elmhurst, another neighborhood in Queens, also has a large and growing Chinese community. Previously a small area with Chinese shops on Broadway between 81st Street and Cornish Avenue, this new Chinatown has now expanded to 45th Avenue and Whitney Avenue.
Avenue U in Homecrest, Brooklyn supports New York City's newest Chinatown, as evidenced by the growing number of Chinese-run fruit markets, restaurants, beauty and nail salons, and computer and consumer electronics dealers. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn also supports one of New York City's newest Chinatowns, again evidenced by a growing number of Chinese food markets, restaurants, and other local businesses.
- Chinatowns of NYC:
- Chinatown, Manhattan (紐約華埠)
- Little Fuzhou (小福州)
- East Harlem (東哈萊姆)
- Chinatowns in Queens (皇后):
- Chinatowns in Brooklyn (布魯克林):
For much of the New York City Chinese community's history, Taishanese was the dominant Chinese dialect. After 1965 an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong made Cantonese the dominant dialect. By 2009, due to an influx of immigrants from Mainland China, the increased influence of Mandarin in the Chinese-speaking world, and a desire of Chinese parents to have their children learn Mandarin, Mandarin is becoming the dominant dialect. In the Manhattan Chinatown many newer immigrants who speak Mandarin live around East Broadway. Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Flushing in Queens have had a lot of Mandarin-speaking Chinese.
The World Journal, one of the largest Chinese-language newspapers outside of Asia, has its headquarters in Whitestone, Queens, while The Epoch Times, a multi-lingual, multinational newspaper with a significant Chinese language presence, is headquartered in Manhattan.
Recreation and culture
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