Little Fuzhou

Coordinates: 40°42′52″N 73°59′16″W / 40.71444°N 73.98778°W / 40.71444; -73.98778
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Little Fuzhou
The Fukien American Association on East Broadway
Traditional Chinese小福州
Simplified Chinese小福州
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese東百老匯區
Simplified Chinese东百老汇区
Literal meaningEast Broadway Quarter

Little Fuzhou is a neighborhood in the Two Bridges and Lower East Side areas of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States. Little Fuzhou constitutes a portion of the greater Manhattan Chinatown, home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere.[1][2] Manhattan's Chinatown is also one of the oldest Chinese ethnic enclaves.[3]

Manhattan Chinatown is one of nine Chinatown neighborhoods in New York City,[4] as well as one of twelve in the New York metropolitan area, which contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, comprising an estimated 893,697 uniracial individuals as of 2017.[5] Starting in the 1980s and especially in the 1990s, the neighborhood became a prime destination for immigrants from Fuzhou, Fujian, China.

Manhattan's Little Fuzhou is centered on East Broadway. However, since the 2000s, Chinatown in the neighborhood of Sunset Park became New York City's new primary destination for the Fuzhou immigrants, surpassing the original enclave in Manhattan.[6]


Early history[edit]

East Broadway was once a main street of a large Jewish community in the Lower East Side. Over the years, Puerto Ricans[7][8] and African-Americans[9] settled on the street. During the 1960s, an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong[10] and Vietnam[11] found homes on East Broadway and the areas surrounding it. Slowly, the Puerto Ricans, the Jews, and the African-Americans moved from the area.[12]

Manhattan enclave[edit]

Little Fuzhou on East Broadway as seen from Manhattan Bridge
Chatham Square and Lin Zexu Statue

During the 1980s, an influx of illegal immigrants from Fuzhou, especially Changle, Fuqing, and Lianjiang, established a Little Fuzhou enclave on East Broadway. The Fuzhou immigrants could often speak Mandarin in addition to their native Fuzhounese language (also known as Fuzhou dialect). Other Mandarin speakers settled in Flushing and Elmhurst, Queens, while Manhattan's Chinatown was traditionally dominated by Cantonese speakers.[13] The earliest illegal Fuzhou immigrants came as early as the 1970s starting mostly with men, who brought their families over later.[14][15][16][17][18] When an influx of Fuzhou immigrants arrived during the 1980s and 1990s, many were undocumented and unable to speak Cantonese; as such, many of them were denied jobs and resorted to criminal activities to survive a living.[19] Many of the city's Fuzhouese immigrants illegally subdivide apartments into small spaces to rent to other immigrants.[20]

In the late 20th century, Manhattan's Chinatown was not welcoming toward non-Cantonese Chinese speakers, and immigrants from Fuzhou were largely forced to take low-wage, low-skilled jobs.[21][22][23][24][25] Over time, Fuzhou immigrants were able to create their own Chinatown east of the Bowery, separate from the Cantonese-dominated Chinatown west of the Bowery.[26] East Broadway became a hub for Fujianese immigrants during the 1980s and early 1990s, but Fujianese residents had spread out to Eldridge Street by the early 21st century. The Cantonese and Fuzhouese parts of Chinatown remained generally separate.[27] With the development of Little Fuzhou, East Broadway gained prominence as a Chinese business district.[25][28][29][30][31]

The Bowery is the divider between the older Cantonese Chinatown and the newer Fuzhou Chinatown. More than half of the area's residents are undocumented immigrants.[32] With a large Fuzhou population, East Broadway is often referred to as Little Fuzhou by Fuzhou immigrants.[33] A considerable number of Fujianese clan associations can be found in and around the street.[33][34][35] A statue of Lin Zexu, who was also Fuzhouese, was erected in Chatham Square in 1997.[36] During the 1980s, housing prices were dropping in Manhattan's Chinatown, but property values increased when Fuzhouese arrived in large numbers during the 1990s.[37][38]

Despite the large Fuzhou population, the Cantonese still have a large presence on the Lower East Side. This influenced many Fuzhouese in Manhattan's Chinatown to learn the Cantonese language.[39]

Gentrification and decline[edit]

In the 2000s, the growth of newly arriving Fuzhouese immigrants to Manhattan's Chinatown began to slow down, with more Fuzhouese moving to Brooklyn.[40] Some Chinese landlords were also accused of bias against the Fuzhou immigrants due to crime concerns.[41][42] Subdivision of apartments is also a frequent concern.[43] During the 2010s, additional Fuzhouese immigrants moved out due to gentrification;[44][45][46] in a July 2018 report from Voices of NY, Fuzhou owned businesses have been declining on East Broadway due to high rents, and are being replaced by non-Asians. In addition, Fuzhouese consumers started traveling to Flushing's Chinatown in Queens, and Sunset Park's Chinatown in Brooklyn—the largest Fuzhou enclave in New York City—for commerce.[47][48] Since the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City in 2020, storefront vacancies have accelerated.[49][45]

Little Fuzhou, Brooklyn[edit]

The increasing Fuzhou influx to New York City has shifted to the Brooklyn Chinatown (布鲁克林華埠) located in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood. This newer Chinatown within New York City's borough of Brooklyn was now the most affordable large Chinese enclave of New York City. In addition, the area supposedly had less housing discrimination than Manhattan's Chinatown. Brooklyn's Chinatown has surpassed Manhattan's Chinatown as the city's primary Fuzhou culture center. Property values have risen substantially as a result.

Reputation as Chinatown's Wall Street[edit]

East Broadway has been called the "Wall Street of Chinatown", due to the significant number of Chinese-owned financial institutions concentrated on this street and surrounding streets.[50] The banks that are located on this Wall Street of Chinatown are Asia Bank, United Orient Bank, and CitiBank (corner of Mott Street) on Chatham Square. First American International Bank (formerly Hong Kong Bank) and Abacus Federal Savings Bank on the Bowery.[51][52][53][54][55]

Onto East Broadway are Cathay Bank (formerly the Golden City Bank),[56] East West Bank (formerly the Hang Seng Bank),[57] a second Chinatown branch of First American International Bank and formerly named as Glory China Tower in the former spot of the Pagoda theater, the HSBC bank.[58][59][60] A Cantonese newspaper company named Wah May Press was also located on 9 East Broadway.[61]

Chinese gangs in the past[edit]

Cantonese gangs[edit]

East Broadway was once known to be one of the territories of Cantonese gangsters of Manhattan's Chinatown. The Golden Star Bar, which was once located on 9 East Broadway, was a place where Chinese gangs of a previous era often congregated.

A man named Herbert Liu, a former Hong Kong police officer had immigrated to Manhattan's Chinatown in the late 1960s. After arriving, later on Herbert Liu had encountered a gang member of Chinatown named Benny Ong, who was the boss of the Hip Sing Gang at the time and trying to recruit Liu to be a gang member. Herbert Liu had some meetings with Ong, which influenced him during the 1980s to begin making East Broadway and Division Street from Chatham Square to Market Street as his territories with a promise of riches from Hong Kong.

Liu recruited restaurateurs, merchants, and gambling house operators and enlisted former gang members that were forced out of the gangs of the old Chinatown on Mott Street and Pell Street. Chinatown then had gained another Tong (堂 Táng) or known as in English translation, gathering place. Liu named his gang organization as Freemasons, borrowing the name from the time period of the 19th century when there was an uprising against the Manchu. Liu had rented out a basement located on 52 East Broadway where it was a combination of headquarters and gaming hall.

The Ghost Shadows Gang, which had dominance over Mott Street had expressed concern about this new gang that had emerged and eventually leading to gang violence in the Golden Star Bar on East Broadway in 1982 resulting in three members of the Freemasons gang murdered. The Freemasons gang then fell apart and their attempted dominance over East Broadway never continued to grow.[24]

There was one incident 1977 where Nei Wong, the leader of the Ghost Shadows was hanging with a Hong Kong cop's girlfriend close to underneath the Manhattan Bridge on East Broadway in the Chinese Quarter Nightclub and that Hong Kong cop that had arrived over witnessed them and then pulled out his police gun and brutally murdered them. With Nei Wong gone, Nicky Louie took over his spot in the Ghost Shadows gang.[10][62][63][64]

In May 1985, there was a gang-related shooting outside of 30 East Broadway, which at the time was a Sichuan cuisine restaurant. The shooting eventually spilled over into the restaurant injuring a non-Asian 37 year old customer named Brian Monahan who was at the time an AT&T executive and had been dining with friends. A 4-year-old little boy named Lee Young Kwai was strolling down the street with his uncle was caught in the crossfire injuring his skull, but eventually recovered after the bullet was surgically removed from his skull at Bellevue Hospital; the uncle was not injured. A total of seven victims were injured in the crossfires of the shooting. Two males, who were 15 and 16 years old and were members of a Chinese street gang, were arrested and convicted. It was widely believed that Eastern Peace Gang and the Burmese Gang were the culprits as many local residents reported that they were fighting over for the surrounding territory. [65][66] [67] [68] [69]

Fuzhounese gangs[edit]

By the late 1980s to early 1990s, the most known recent gangs on East Broadway are now from Fuzhou, Fujian of China after this street had started to become a gathering center for Fuzhou immigrants starting in the late 1980s, though since the 2000s, that status has been dramatically and increasingly shifting to Brooklyn's Chinatown, which is now the largest Fuzhou enclave of NYC. The Fuzhou gangs that are known are the Fuk Ching, the Snakehead (gang), which are well known to smuggle illegal immigrants from Fuzhou to the United States and other countries and the Tung On Gang.

The Tung On gang was established between the 1980s–90s on East Broadway where they ran a gambling parlor. Parallel to the Cantonese Tong Gangs that had dominated the long-established Cantonese community in the western section of Chinatown, the Fuzhou gangs were the same for the Fuzhou community that was emerging in the 1990s, which made Manhattan's Chinatown expand past its original traditional borderlines further east onto the Lower East Side. A man named Alan Man Sin Lau, the leader of the Fukien American Association, gained a status like Benny Ong did with the Cantonese.

The Fuk Ching gang members are often the workers of the Snakehead gang where they would be the ones to collect money from the illegal Fuzhou immigrants who owed money to the Snakeheads, which they had borrowed to come over to the United States. Sometimes, the Fuk Ching gang members would hold the migrants hostage and even violently beat them until they paid up the loans they owed.

Although the Fuzhou Gangs gained more prevalence much later than the Cantonese gangs in Chinatown, they have been around as early as the 1980s though with more limited prevalence prior to the time when the Cantonese Freemasons gang were attempting to claim East Broadway as its own territories, which fell apart after three Freemason gang members were killed in gang violence.[70][71][72] [73] [74] [75]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

40°42′52″N 73°59′16″W / 40.71444°N 73.98778°W / 40.71444; -73.98778