Doyers Street

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Coordinates: 40°42′52″N 73°59′53″W / 40.714354°N 73.998102°W / 40.714354; -73.998102

Doyers Street depicted in an 1898 postcard
The city's first Chinese theater was on Doyers Street

Doyers Street is a 200-foot-long (61 m) street in the heart of Chinatown in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is one block in length and has a sharp bend in the middle. The street runs south and then southeast from Pell Street to the intersection of Bowery, Catherine Street, Chatham Square, and Division Street.

The street is the site of several restaurants and the Chinatown branch of the United States Postal Service at 6 Doyers Street. The Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened at 13 Doyers Street in 1927, and is still in operation. Other longstanding business include Ting's Gift Shop at 18 Doyers. The street is also known for its barber shops and hair stylists.

History[edit]

The street owes its name to Hendrik Doyer, an 18th-century Dutch immigrant who bought the property facing the Bowery in 1791[1] and operated a distillery where the post office is now sited and the Plough and Harrow tavern near the corner with Bowery.[2]

From 1893 to 1911, 5–7 Doyers Street was the site of the first Chinese language theater in New York City. The theater was converted into a rescue mission for the homeless. In 1903, the theater was the site of a fundraiser by the Chinese community for Jewish victims of a massacre in Kishinev.[3]

Early in the century, the bend in the street became known as "the Bloody Angle" because of numerous shootings among the Tong Gangs of Chinatown that lasted into the 1930s.[4] Hatchets were frequently used, leading to the creation of the expression, "hatchet man".[4] In 1994, law enforcement officials said that more people died violently at the "Bloody Angle" than at any other street intersection in the United States.[5]

One shooting at the Chinese Theater in 1905 claimed the lives of three people, when members of the Hip Sing Tong fired on members of the On Leong Tong. The shooting took place at a time when the theater was packed with 400 people.[6] In one 1909 incident, two members of the On Leong Tong were shot, one fatally, by members of the rival Four Brothers’ Society, or See Sing Tong. The shooting came after three members of the Hip Sing Tong were executed in Boston for the murder of a member of the On Leong tong.[7]

A number of old tenement houses are on Doyers Street, and these were sometimes subjected to fires. In 1910, four tenants died and five were injured when fire swept through the building at 15–17 Doyers.[8] In 1939, a fire at the same building, described by the New York Times as "an old rabbit warren," killed seven persons and injured sixteen. Fighting the fire was made difficult because of the narrowness of the street, and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia said at the scene of the fire that someday Chinatown would have to be torn down and replaced.[9]

Chuck Connors, a Tammany Hall operative and the political boss of Chinatown in the early part of the century, had his headquarters at the Chatham Club at 6 Doyers, now the site of Chinatown's U.S. post office. Irving Berlin reportedly entertained at that establishment.

Writing in H.L. Mencken's American Mercury in 1926, Herbert Asbury pointed out that the street serves no logical purpose, because it is a link between Chatham Square, the Bowery, and Pell Street, which also connects to the Bowery a few feet from Doyers. He called it "a crazy street, and there has never been any excuse for it." He described Doyers Street as the "nerve center" of Chinatown because of the Chinese theater and Bloody Angle.[10] As Doyers and Pell Streets are only accessible from southbound Bowery and traffic from both Bowery and Doyers Street can only continue to southbound Chatham Square, Doyers Street is very lightly used.[11]

By 2011, the street was lined with barbershops, restaurants, a United States Post Office at 6 Doyers Street, and an employment agency at 15-17 Doyers Street that serves recent immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jerry E. Patterson, (Museum of the City of New York), The City of New York: a history illustrated from the collections 1978:212.
  2. ^ Sanna Feirstein, Naming New York: Manhattan places & how they got their names, 2001:59; Daniel Ostrow and Mary Sham, Manhattan's Chinatown 2008:105ff.
  3. ^ Seligman, Scott D. (February 4, 2011). "The Night New York’s Chinese Went Out for Jews". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Kifner, John (August 21, 1994). "On Sunday; Benny Ong: A Farewell To All That". The New York Times. p. 45. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ Lii, Jane (June 12, 1994). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: CHINATOWN; On Pell Street, Only Memories Of a Violent Past". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Three Shot Dead in Chinese Theater". The New York Times. August 7, 1905. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Tong War Renewed in Our Chinatown". The New York Times. November 6, 1909. p. 1. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Four Meet Death in Chinatown". The New York Times. May 30, 1910. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  9. ^ "7 Dead, 16 Injured in Chinatown Fire". The New York Times. June 22, 1939. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Doyers Street," by Herbert Asbury, American Mercury Magazine, May to August 1926, p. 118
  11. ^ Google Inc. "Doyers St, New York, NY 10013". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Doyers+St,+New+York,+NY+10013. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  12. ^ Dolnick, Sam (February 22, 2011). "Many Immigrants’ Job Search Starts in Chinatown". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]