Two Bridges, Manhattan
Two Bridges is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of Manhattan in New York City, United States. Although the exact boundaries of the neighborhood are not clearly defined, it is the East River waterfront area, roughly between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge at the southern end of the Lower East Side.
Two Bridges, with its tenements and a high concentration of public housing projects, including the LaGuardia Houses, has traditionally been an immigrant neighborhood, previously populated by immigrants from Europe, more recently from Latin America, and now from China. The Two Bridges Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in September 2003.
Although Two Bridges has no exact borders, the neighborhood is roughly bounded by the East River, East River Greenway, FDR Drive, and South Street to the south; Confucius Plaza and Division Street to the north; Montgomery Street to the east; and St. James Place, Pearl Street, and Brooklyn Bridge to the west. However, the Two Bridges Urban Renewal district lies between Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge to the north.
The neighborhood had been considered to be a part of the Lower East Side for much of its history. One of the first uses of the term to describe the area was employed by the naming of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in 1955.
Two Bridges Historic District
In September 2003, the Two Bridges Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district is a nine-block area, roughly bounded by East Broadway, Market Street, Cherry Street, Catherine Street, Madison Street, and St. James Place.
The district includes the following landmarks on state and federal historic registers:
- First Cemetery of Congregation Shearith Israel
- Knickerbocker Village housing development
- Mariners Temple
- The Sea and Land Church
- St. James Church
- 51 Market Street
- 25 Oliver Street (house where Governor Al Smith was born)
Little Fuzhou (小福州, 紐約華埠), or Fuzhou Town (福州埠), a prime destination status for immigrants from the Fujian Province of China, is centered around the street of East Broadway in Two Bridges. It was during the 1980s when an influx of Fuzhou immigrants flooded East Broadway and a Little Fuzhou enclave evolved on the street, it became fully part of Chinatown, also known as the New Chinatown of Manhattan. With a large Fuzhou population, East Broadway is often referred to as Little Fuzhou by Fuzhou immigrants.
The Fuzhou immigrants often speak Mandarin along with their Fuzhou dialect and while all of the other Mandarin speakers were settling in and creating a more Mandarin-Speaking Chinatown or Mandarin Town (國語埠) in Flushing's Chinatown, and an even smaller one in Elmhurst all in Queens because they could not relate to the traditional Cantonese dominance in Manhattan's Chinatown, the Fuzhou immigrants were the only exceptional Non-Cantonese Chinese group to largely settle in Manhattan's Chinatown. This is due to the Mandarin speaking enclaves being too middle class and expensive and since many Fuzhou immigrants came without immigration paperwork and forced into low paying jobs, Manhattan's Chinatown was the only place for them to be around other Chinese people and receive affordable housing despite Manhattan's Chinatown's traditional Cantonese dominance that lasted until the 1990s
A considerable number of Fujianese clan associations can be found in and around the street, many of which are even specified by clans from certain villages of Fuzhou region, for example, the members of "Fujian Fuqi Association" are from Fuqi Village, Changle County, Fuzhou, Fujian. The Fukien American Association is also located here. Restaurants, markets and intercity bus lines run by Foochowese concentrate in East Broadway. A statue of Lin Zexu, who was also a Fuzhouese, was erected in Chatham Square in 1997.
Two Bridges has historically been an Irish and Italian neighborhood, but after the war and the building of public housing high rises in the 1950s, black and Hispanic residents moved into the area. More recently, Two Bridges has been populated by first- and second-generation Chinese immigrants. The shortly-lived Two Bridges Model School District was established in 1967 as an experiment in local control of school districts in a neighborhood that was at the time "35% Chinese and Chinese American, 40% Puerto Rican, 12% white and 12% African American."The area remains a home to low- to moderate-income families and maintains a reputation for being gritty. Guns N' Roses guitarist and area resident Richard Fortus called Two Bridges, "the only neighborhood left in Manhattan that doesn’t have a Starbucks".
However, families and young professionals are arriving in search of deals, and condos with units going for as much as $1.8 million are being built.
As of 2010, is has been the new home of experimental and fringe music venue Downtown Music Gallery.
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