Chinatown Mansions

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by PoliticalChic, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I was reading an article in the “Village Voice,’ and I don’t know if it is available in venues other than NYC, so I thought I’d offer it to all. If you have the time, take a look at the way some of our brethren live.

    “The fourth floor is very different. The rooms crammed inside are tiny, with walls about eight feet high but no ceilings, and each one about the size of an office cubicle. The dozen or so residents who live on this floor pay about $100 a month to live in what amounts to a broom closet, and all of them share a bathroom with two shower stalls, a urinal, and four toilets. The cubicles are jam-packed with possessions the residents have been piling up for decades. There is no kitchen on the floor.

    On a recent afternoon, the man who lives in cubicle 26 squats on a tiny stool in the narrow hallway, eating his dinner of steaming vegetables and rice on a makeshift table—a slab of plastic laid atop a bucket. His neighbor in cubicle 27, Mr. Jiang, stir-fries a watery green gourd on an electric camping stove set up on the floor, while the man in cubicle 28 has placed a metal bowl full of little gray clam shells out in the hallway; he'll soak the shells before boiling them into a broth for soup. In the evenings, the murmur of electric rice cookers can be heard coming from every room.

    81 Bowery has been the home for at least a generation of Chinese laborers, men and women who work in the kitchens and on the construction sites of Chinatown. It's actually one of the longest-running and last remaining lodging houses in the city—a relic of a different period in New York history, when such places served poor immigrants who arrived with no cash and needed a dirt-cheap, temporary place to stay. To immigrants arriving in the late 19th century, 81 Bowery was known as the Germania Hotel, an infamous place where recently arrived Irish workers suffered from typhus, once-upright citizens whose reputations had been ruined went to waste away, and drunks were dropped off by police to pass out for the night. By 1923, the Salvation Army was running the place.

    Life on the fourth floor of 81 Bowery is invasively communal: When someone snores, everyone hears it. If one person gets sick, so do all the rest. While someone is washing his dishes in the bathroom sink, others are waiting to wash their own. When the boiler breaks in the winter—a frequent occurrence—everyone shivers.

    And yet, over the years, the tenants have managed to create a life they describe as comfortable, a life revolving around work, frequent visits from family members, occasional spats with neighbors, and many winters without heat. If the lodging house was originally intended as temporary housing for new immigrants, some of the residents of 81 Bowery have been living in their cubicles for 10 and 20 years. It's poverty that keeps them there, but some of the tenants can make a small profit on their tiny quarters by cramming in additional bunks and subletting to roommates. Needing more space for beds, tenants build up their walls, construct ceilings, and push the limits of what the building can accommodate."

    New York News - The Strangest Landlord-Tenant Relationship In Town? - page 1
     
  2. noose4
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    noose4 Senior Member

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    there are all kinds of cramped housing set ups in NYC, but Chinatown is truly a peak back to how things were for the poor a hundred years ago, but then again you have people in other parts of Manhattan paying 10 to 15 times more than what these people are paying for spaces not much bigger than the ones in the story.
     
  3. Andrew2382
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    Andrew2382 Gold Member

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    Chinatown is slowly eating away at what used to be Little Italy
     
  4. noose4
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    noose4 Senior Member

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    Little Italy is barely there and most of what is left is touristy, Chinatown and gentrification have killed it.
     
  5. Andrew2382
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    Andrew2382 Gold Member

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    yup...it is very sad

    I used to love going there in the 90's when I was a kid. So many good places to eat
     
  6. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I was wondering if anyone saw this as a way of looking at how much worse it was where these immigrants came from.
     
  7. PatekPhilippe
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    PatekPhilippe Senior Member

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    You would have your eyes opened if you could see some of the things I've seen in Asia. One particular story comes to mind. My first military deployment. They have programs where sailors would spend time with a local family. I went to this one family's home in the Philippines and after I entered the house the first thing I noticed was the creek running through the living room...and then they took the front door off of the hinges, put it on 2 saw horses and used it for a table. Before I left I noticed them putting a mattress pad on the makeshift table so I assumed they also used it for a bed. As far as a front door? A blanket took it's place.
     
  8. noose4
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    noose4 Senior Member

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    the only good place left, as far as I am concerned, is Vincent's.
     
  9. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I doubt that many of us have had the experience you just oulined.

    That's why I posted the article.
     
  10. The_Halfmoon
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    The_Halfmoon Member

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    we have a HUGE Asian population in Vancouver... they live WELL.

    But it's true, many Chinese can easily live in conditions that we can't tolerate because they were raised in very poor homes or simply cherish the opportunity to live abroad.
     

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