Brooklyn 8th Avenue Chinatown

Directions: Take N Train toward Coney Island. Get off at 8th Avenue.  3 Hours for a good visit.

I was in New York City yesterday working toward getting a visa, and had some time to head out to the Brooklyn Chinatown, an offshoot of the much larger and better known Manhattan Chinatown.

I didn’t have much time to spend out there (It takes about a half an hour by subway from Midtown Manhattan), and as such did not get a chance to have lunch and really complete the experience, but here are some pictures that I got.

This Chinatown started to grow in the 1980s from an exodus of Cantonese residents of the Manhattan Chinatown, as well as some new immigrants from mainland China.  In more recent years, however, this population has been overshadowed by a large influx of immigrants from Fuzhou province, to that point that it is frequently referred to as ‘Little Fuzhou’.  8th avenue, almost empty in the early 80s, made a good, cheap starting point for immigrants, as well as a cheaper alternative for those looking to escape the increasing prices of Manhattan Chinatown.

While it may not be as large or as flashy as its neighbor, the Brooklyn Chinatown, in some respects, had a more authentic China feel.  I saw several old craft workers on the streets, repairing the soles and shoes and adjusting watch bands, using hand powered tools.  I have not seen an equivalent to this in the main Chinatown in a very long time, as these industries have been largely chased away by tourism and City officials looking to discourage the perceived ‘migrant’ appearance.  There was also a much stronger sense of community, with several large groups gathered around bulletin boards with announcements for a variety of services.  Although Mandarin is spoken here and there, Cantonese is still prominent, and the Mandarin that is spoken I found to be almost unintelligible.

If you do have any interest in heading out this way, simply hop on the N train headed toward Coney Island and get off at 8th avenue.  Chances are fair that you will only see one or two non-Chinese, so you may get some strange looks when stopping in for some food!

For an extremely poorly written but more detailed history, check out this wikipedia page:
Brooklyn Chinatown

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