by Michael Hsu, 01/29/2013 [Updated 12/21/2015]
Chinatown. Photo: Julienne Schaer • Red Egg. Photo: Will Steacy
With one of the densest populations of Chinese immigrants in the western hemisphere, Manhattan's Chinatown is a true New York story, the American Dream in action. The thriving immigrant population gives visitors access to far-flung wares and culinary delights, and to walk these streets is to walk through NYC's past (it's where much of the action in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York took place, though back in the era portrayed in the movie it was known as Five Points). A great starting point is Chatham Square, which is the intersection of eight streets (including major arteries like the Bowery and Mott Street)—a metaphor, perhaps, for the neighborhood's confluence of cultures. History buffs can admire Chatham Square's statue of Lin Zexu, a Qing Dynasty official who led the fight against Britain's illegal importation of opium. But most of us will want to start eating and shopping our way through the busy streets—there's a backstory in every bite. Read on to learn more about Chinatown's most exciting attractions.