I moved to Chinatown recently. Though I have always frequented the neighborhood to get my fix of Asian delights, living here feels completely different. Seeing it early in the morning or late at night, desolate of the tourists and locals that normally pack its streets, you get a much better sense of the community of the neighborhood. The quiet after-hour solitude helps me notice the density of the history that pervade its streets. With such easy access, I couldn’t help but do some then and now comparisons. My favorite part of the outcome is that things haven’t really seemed to change that much over the past 100 years in this neighborhood- appearance wise anyway.
Here is a shot of the intersection of Pell Street and Doyers Street circa early 1900s:
Byron, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-D4-13646]
And here is a shot of Pell Street and Doyers Street today 2011:
These streets have been home to gambling dens, seen decades of bloody gang violence throughout the 20th century and are a haven for all things cheap and delicious, thus attracting a wide range of people over the years coming for their own special vice- from soup dumplings to illicit activities. You can feel the energy packed into these worn streets as they are constantly reinventing themselves, still offering a distinctly old world feel that even the daily throngs of tourists can’t take away.