•    Brooklyn’s Chinatown   


    In the mid-1980’s, a large number of Chinese immigrants with Cantonese backgrounds, such as Taisan and Guangzhou, moved to Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park. The number 8 connotes fortune and luck in Chinese culture, a likely reason for choosing this particular avenue. With this rapid influx of immigrants, the businesses and community that developed around the avenue flourished. Soon enough, a “third Chinatown” had been established, rivaled by Manhattan’s Chinatown and Flushing, Queens.

    Many of the goods and stores in this Chinatown focus on catering to the needs of the Chinese residents in the community, rather than the “unwanted” visitors. One will hear snippets of conversation in multiple Chinese dialects, but few people converse in English. Signs written in English are nearly impossible to come by, for there is little use for them. Similar to Flushing, Queens, most stores in the area are meant for Chinese-speaking immigrants.

    Compared to Manhattan, this Eighth Avenue Chinatown appeals less to tourists and more to the residents of the neighborhood. While one will encounter similar Chinese advertisements and street vendors selling inexpensive souvenirs, the main industry of the area doesn’t revolve around tourism. On the contrary, the neighborhood vibe came off as slightly unwelcoming to outsiders. A non-Asian could sense this almost tangible discomfort by walking along the avenue and receiving confused stares and quickly muttered comments in Chinese from passersby. These awkward tensions when seeing non-Asians imply that most residents are unaccustomed to having “foreigners” on their block.

    Currently, this Eighth Avenue stretch of Chinese culture extends from 42nd to 62nd Street. Merely walking along this strip immerses one in such a distinct a community, it no longer feels like New York.