Two Bridges, Manhattan
Two Bridges is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, nestled at the southern end of the Lower East Side and Chinatown on the East River waterfront, near the footings of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. The neighborhood has been considered to be a part of the Lower East Side for much of its history. Two Bridges has traditionally been an immigrant neighborhood, previously populated by immigrants from Europe, and more recently from Latin America and China. The Two Bridges Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in September 2003.
Two Bridges has a mix of tenement style walk-up buildings and high-rise buildings that include mixed-income and affordable housing developments as well as public housing provided by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
The Two Bridges is bounded by the East River, East River Greenway, FDR Drive, and South Street to the south; East Broadway 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 has two sections: the area between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge that borders Chinatown, and an area to the east of the Manhattan Bridge that borders the Lower East Side. To the west of the Two Bridges neighborhood is the Civic Center and Financial District.
In 2013, real estate developer Extell headed by Gary Barnett acquired a former Pathmark grocery store site at 227 Cherry Street east of the Manhattan Bridge. In 2014, Extell announced that it would build a 68-story market-rate condo tower and a separate 13-story affordable development on the site.
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
- William and Rosamond Clark House
- Alfred E. Smith House (in which New York 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 on 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 short-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".
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