|Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City 2009 on Pell Street, looking west towards Bayard and Mott. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The generic term "Chinatown" has been applied to areas of Asian influence throughout the world beginning in the early 19th century. Many cities in the United States have a district known as Chinatown--some of the most famous being those in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and, of course, Manhattan. In fact the metropolitan area of New York City has at least a dozen communities with large Chinese populations and Manhattan's Chinatown is home to the largest concentration of Chinese peoples in the Western Hemisphere.
Originally the Chinatown areas were transitional points for new Chinese immigrants or those of Chinese descent who were fleeing persecution in other parts of the country. Manhattan's Chinatown began developing in the 1850's in Lower Manhattan in the area of the Bowery and along the thoroughfare of Broadway.
With the arrival of the new Chinese immigrants came Chinese businesses and inexpensive tenement housing to house the newcomers. Chinatown became a city within a city with Chinese dialects spoken by the people and business signs written in the language Chinese characters. The exotic nature of that part of town made it a natural draw for tourists and curiosity seekers.
For many decades two of the main industries of Chinatown have been tourism and restaurants. Bus tours typically include a stop in Chinatown. Tourists flock to the shops and eateries to get a sense of what visiting China might be like. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Chinatown--over 300--and they offer a range of the many culinary styles of China and other parts of Asia. If you're looking for Chinese food then Chinatown is a go to place for what you're craving. Then after you've eaten you can hang around visiting the many shops until you're ready for the next restaurant stop. It's often said that shortly after eating Chinese food you're hungry again and in Chinatown there's no need to go hungry for Chinese food for very long.
Just ask Mee Magnum, blogger from The Chinese Quest. When I posed the question about Manhattan in my January blog post, Mee commented, "Manhattan to me is home sweet home. Born and raised in the great City. Like no other place in the world. And home, of course, to some of the best Chinese restaurants on the planet! :)" Mee's not doing the Challenge this year, but last year he offered a great series about Chinese restaurants in the NYC area. If you want to know more about great Chinese restaurants and other knowledge about Chinese food Mee's blog is for you. I regularly read it and dream about places I'd like to eat one day.
The Question of the Month
The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants.
Michael has made it easy on all of us who are participating in the April A to Z Challenge. Here is this month's question:
What's your favorite thing that begins with the letter "C"?
After all this talk about Chinatown, my first answer would be Chinese food. I've liked almost all Chinese food that I've eaten though I don't eat it very much anymore since my wife is not much of a fan of the cuisine. But given the chance I'll gladly go to a Chinese restaurant when the offer comes my way.
Thinking about the letter "C" though I can't forget chocolate. I love chocolate in all incarnations whether it be for eating or drinking. Oh, and thinking about drinking I should add coffee.
Reading my initial answer you'd think life was all about food. There are, after all, other things in life. As a blogger (or not) I do like my computer a great deal. For comfort sake I'd have to add chairs. Could we get by without chairs? Or my car for that matter? These days, especially where I live in Los Angeles, a car is almost a necessity though I do know a few people who get around without driving. Personally though I'm hooked on cars even though I officially drive a van--it's still essentially a car.
These favorites questions are always tough. How do I pick just one of everything I mentioned here not to mention the things I didn't mention? My favorite "C"? I guess it depends on how hungry I am or what I have to do. My favorites in anything always seem to be changing.
Do you have a Chinatown near where you live? Have you ever visited a Chinatown anywhere? What is your favorite Chinese dish?