NY’s Two china towns
Many of those businesses were also import/export businesses which bring in the authentic wares and goods from the homeland. The Chinese In Flushing are there because they reside there and raise their families there. The stores and businesses In this area are conducted specifically with Intent to provide daily living needs in the Chinese or Asian lifestyle. The goods imported by the companies are then distributed to other businesses, many of which are in Flushing, for example there are many markets selling authentic foods imported specifically for Chinese customers.
There are also professional office spaces and banks that cater to the Chinese community, churches, and social clubs which are the epicenter of their social and economic lives. In both areas I observed that the Chinese added their own flare with language and color. All the store signs had Chinese (or other Asian) characters and were very colorful. Much like what one would see in the streets of China or Japan.
However, on Canal Street all the signs had English translations on them while on Main Street in Flushing I found a number of signs that were strictly in Chinese without any renovations. In Flushing I also noticed that signs for businesses were stacked two and three stories high. On Canal Street the signs and businesses were strictly on the ground floor. I found that the floors above were used for storage and warehoused merchandise for all these businesses located on the ground floor.
Even the merchandise being sold was vastly different at each locale. The China town in Flushing had a variety of Chinese movies for sale, salted fish and a variety of roots and spices indigenous to Asia. The Manhattan China town contained many t-shirts, oodles of the Statue of Liberty, electronics and even knock-off brand name merchandise aimed primarily for tourists. In Manhattan on Canal Street and Baxter I observed a small pagoda that boasts Chinese architecture.
Also on Canal Street and Centre Street the Chinese refaced the outside of some of the buildings by adding the pagoda style embellishments to give it that classical Chinese look and feel. Both areas are extremely crowded. Sales men and women stand in front of their shops or stands and yell out to pedestrians to lure them in for business. In Flushing they were only speaking In Chinese. On Canal Street they spoke In English to lure In customers and they engaged in price haggling with their customers.
I do not know if this was part of the Chinese culture and custom but I found it interesting. What I observed during my visits were two similar yet vastly different Chinese communities. On the surface they are similar in that the architecture has been modified (although in different ways) to reflect the Chinese flavor. However, when we different purposes. One, for the production of income and the conducting of business, and one for the continuation of the Chinese lifestyle and heritage.