Gold. The opportunity to find little bite-sized nugget brought Chinese immigrants to California. Stories of “Gold Mountain” lured immigrants over with the thought that they could find nuggets of gold and send money home to their families. Also, with new job openings for low pay work on the Central Pacific Railroad they thought that it would be to work for a few years before returning home. When work on the railroad began to slow down, and it became harder and harder to find gold, Chinese sought work other in other industries. This became a problem for white laborers because Chinese laborers would willingly work for less than their counter partners. Due to this violence spread, and discrimination against Chinese workers was everywhere. This caused the Chinese to move to large cities on the east coast, where discrimination was not as prevalent.
The northern boundary of Chinatown is Grand Street which overlaps Little Italy. The eastern is boundary Allen Street and to western boundary is Lafayette Street. The southwestern and southeastern boundaries are Worth Street and East Broadway respectively.
In 1858, one of the first permanent resident in Chinatown was businessman named Ah-Ken. There is speculation that Ah Ken became a landlord and rented apartments which would later fund his business on Park Row. Chinatown is located in Manhattan, New York City.
The Chinese Exclusion Act
In 1982 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to restrict the rights of Chinese Americans. On the west coast, Chinese were subjected to discrimination, violence, and low wages; even though they were only .002 percent of the population. According to History.com, this Act put into effect because of the unrest that white laborers felt on the west coast. Chinese workers were willing to work much less than white workers and for not wanting to assimilate into the western culture. The act prevented Chinese immigration for the next ten years and stated that Chinese couldn't be naturalized. It also indicated that wives and children of the workers could not come to the states. The Act would be renewed for the next 20 years, and in 1902 the Act went even further to say that Chinese could no longer immigrate to the states. Chinese immigrants wouldn't be able to be naturalized until 1943 when the act was repealed. After the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed the Chinese community slowly continued to grow, but there was still a quota. Restaurants and businesses employed Chinese and paid them less than minimum wage. In 1968 the quota was raised the population expanded rapidly, expanding into Little Italy.
When looking at the rest of New York City, it is clear that Chinatown is really in its own little world. While walking down Canal Street lanterns hang from the buildings. Street vendors sell fish, fruits, vegetables, knock off perfume and handbags in their open air markets. Large brightly lit signs hang from the building displaying store names in Chinese characters. Street signs show the names of streets in both Chinese and English.
Moving to a new place is scary, everything's different. It’s a culture shock. People are drawn to those that are similar to them, and moving to an ethnic enclave can make the transition to a foreign place a lot easier. Ethnic Enclaves are familiar. They are a micro version of their homeland the food, traditions, and religion are things that they are already used too. It gives immigrants a sense of community and security. Chinatown allowed the Chinese to escape the violence and discrimination that they had felt on the west coast. They built a community of their own and thrived. It was a refugee. A way for them to survive in a new place where not everyone was kind to them.
History.com Staff. "The Chinese Exclusion Act" ["A+E Networks"]. History.com, 2009, www.history.com/ topics/chinese-exclusion-act.
Waxman, Sarah. "The History of New York City's Chinatown." NY.com, www.ny.com/articles/chinatown.html.
New York Pictures. 2013, www.new-york-pictures.org/manhattan_chinatown.html. Ngu, Rebecca. "6 Fascinating Facts about the History of Manhattan's Chinatown." Dnainfo.com, 12 Feb.