Food lovers, it is time to get excited. This post involves noodles, both hand-tossed in savoury bolognese or served as a steaming hot chicken chow mien. If your taste buds are tingling, this is the post for you. Unfortunately, this is more about how to get there than it is how or what to eat there. Only in New York can you accidentally cross an invisible boundary between neighbourhoods and travel from Rome to Shanghai in minutes. Aside from a shared geographic location in the heart of Lower Manhattan – and love of noodles – Little Italy and Chinatown couldn’t be more different. You need to have a cappuccino off Mulberry Street or a mid-afternoon sticky bun on your way somewhere else.
Immigration has come to New York in many waves, and this has shaped the fabric of the city as it grew. The city has been built slowly, with each wave of immigration adding more bricks to the growing city. Over time it evolves. New York traces its roots back to 1624 when the Dutch founded the city of New Amsterdam. By 1646, there were over 18 languages spoken in the city. Today, there are several hundred. Many of these immigrants choose to form ethnic enclaves within the city, with the traditions and culture of the motherland transported to the city with them. Today we’re focused on Chinatown and Little Italy, two of the city’s most famous ‘hoods.
New York has many unique and distinct pockets, often paired side by side despite sharing nothing in common. Many different ethnic backgrounds have come together to form the city we love today. Thanks to these ethnic enclaves that have grown inside the city, it is possible to visit Jamaica for lunch and Korea for dinner.
What makes Chinatown & Little Italy so amazing?
It’s hard to explain the smells and tastes when writing a blog post, but these words and photos are missing two of the most important senses. The smell of pastries or pasta while walking down Mulberry Street cannot be told and it’s impossible to see. Much like most things in New York, it has to be experienced.
Little Italy was born in the 1880s when thousands of Italians made the trip across the Atlantic to make a better life for themselves. Most of them settled in Manhattan. In the 1960s, the city changed again, when Chinese immigration was allowed once again. Large numbers of immigrants from Hong Kong and Guangdong arrived and the Chinatown of today was born. Both waves of immigrants brought family recipes and retained their language, creating a new layer to the city of New York. It is a cycle that continues to this day.
he never-ending cycle of immigration is what built New York. It is still on full display today. The newcomers stick together with others who are on the same journey as themselves.They have arrived with one purpose; to find a better life. As new waves of immigrants arrive, they bring with them their cultures, languages, and most importantly, their food.
Both of these ethnic enclaves are essential stops on the food tour of New York. Fried rice for lunch and lasagna for dinner? Maybe Dim Sum for brunch or a latte with a pastry for dessert? These are two of the largest and best-known ethnic enclaves, conveniently located side by side in Lower Manhattan. Chinatown and Little Italy are holding hands, their boundaries pushing up against each other. If you’re not intrigued by the possibilities of lunch or dinner, it’s also the cheapest place to buy souvenirs.
Where are Chinatown & Little Italy and how do you get there?
New York is such an amazing city. There is so much to see and so much to eat. It is much more than Times Square or the Statue of Liberty. It is one of the most active places I’ve ever been. I’ve always enjoyed sitting to drink a coffee while people watching. The biggest takeaway is how busy everyone is. No one stops moving. The city has a life of its own and it is on full display when you’re exploring the city.
Chinatown and Little Italy are located close to the bottom of Manhattan. You can find them just north of Wall Street, south of Houston, bordered by Soho, Tribeca, and the Lower East Side. It’s on the way to a lot of places, so it’s easy to include on your itinerary or even easier to visit if you’re on the subway. It can be found across from where the Manhattan Bridge arrives from Brooklyn across the East River.
New York was a very international city even in the very beginning when it was founded by the Dutch in 1624. Back then it was called New Amsterdam. The Dutch and British would fight for control later that century, eventually becoming a British Colony in 1674 when the Treaty of Westminster was signed. In 1776, it became part of the newly formed United States of America.
New York has a diverse background and many immigrants have arrived here in search of a new or better life provided by the city. As time went on, many of these new immigrants would stick together upon their arrival, and this is how Little Italy and Chinatown were born.