[EPISODE] Manhattan’s Chinatown
Jeff introduces tonight’s featured neighborhood: Chinatown. Joyce Gold returns to the show to once again share her knowledge of city history. Jeff and Joyce begin their discussion with the original settlement of the area now known as Chinatown by Europeans. They trace the transition from commercial area to impoverished residential area. Joyce details the influx of Chinese immigrant to the area and the discrimination faced by early Chinese immigrants.
Jeff and Joyce discuss the development of restaurants in Chinatown and the growth of Chinatown’s food culture. Joyce notes the presence of Chinese theaters and other businesses at the beginning of Chinatown’s development. Jeff notes how Chinatown has continued to flourish without undergoing great demographic change in the way that other ethnic enclaves have in New York. Joyce then shares her favorite experiences on her tours in Chinatown.
Jeff is joined by Joanne Kwong, President of Pearl River Mart. Joanne discusses her career beginning as a litigator, to working at Barnard College, to her decision to work with her family at Pearl River Mart. Joanne shares her family’s story of immigrating to America and how Pearl River was created as a friendship store to help eradicate discrimination against Chinese immigrants. Joanne describes how Pearl River Mart has changed and moved locations, but maintains its mission to foster community.
Joanne recounts her childhood spending weekends in Chinatown, enjoying the food, clothing, and culture. She describes the energy within the Chinese and Asian immigrant communities in New York and takes pride in the second and third generation businesses still thriving in Chinatown. Jeff and Joanne touch on the celebrations and various upcoming festivities for Chinese New Year.