Open City: Blogging Urban Change
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One of the great books about neighborhood change in New York is Marshall Berman’s All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. In the book’s final chapter, Berman describes how his childhood neighborhood was razed in the late 1950s and early 1960s to make way for the Cross-Bronx Expressway, displacing tens of thousands of small business [...]

3/11/11: AAFE and UPROSE Sunset Park Walking Tour
3/11/11: AAFE and UPROSE Sunset Park Walking Tour

Today was a nice day for walking. After a whole lot of rain, wind, and gray gloom the other day, Murad and I walked happily in the sunshine equipped with our coffee towards 35th and 4th to meet Douglas Le and the AAFE crew made up of interns and college fellows for a Sunset Park [...]

Community Announcements
Community Announcements

Squadron Community Convention From State Senator Daniel Squadron: Please join me on Sunday, March 13th, for the third annual 25th Senate District Community Convention. I am hosting the convention at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street in Downtown Brooklyn, from 2:00-5:00PM. At the convention, I will ask you about your thoughts and ideas on legislative [...]

To Seek Better Than Before
To Seek Better Than Before

Last week, there was an article in the New York Times about domestic violence in the Afghan diaspora in Queens and how women were increasingly coming forward and seeking help. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about violence (state, reproductive, domestic, economic, etc.) and responses to violence in a wide way. With the rippling revolutions [...]

The Chinese Rathskeller: Part I—Everyday Landmarks
The Chinese Rathskeller: Part I—Everyday Landmarks

I first learned about the Chinese Rathskeller from my friend Randall Quan after noticing the restaurant’s menu on his table. Randall’s great grandfather, Quan Wei opened the restaurant at 45 Mott in 1939 where it stood for 40 years. “Rathskeller,” the German word for a tavern below street level, was a nod to Wei’s old [...]

Chinatown Soundscape: Valentine’s Day Duet
Chinatown Soundscape: Valentine's Day Duet

I received this text from Jimmy on Valentine’s Day: “Come to K-TV, where only place you can find date. Valentine’s Day Duet contest, winner $1,000. Free rose if you bring friend.” I kidnapped my roommate and we hopped onto the D to 9th Ave. K-TV 39 is attached to the King’s Hotel. It’s in a [...]

Public Notice 1: SPURA
Public Notice 1: SPURA

Last month, Community Board 3 approved a set of guidelines for the future development of ten sites along Delancey and Essex Streets, part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA. The guidelines cover many aspects of proposed development (e.g. the fate of the Essex Street Market, the potential for a new school) but [...]

Destination Cupcakes in Chinatown (Guest post by Karen Hu)
Destination Cupcakes in Chinatown (Guest post by Karen Hu)

This piece is brought to you by guest blogger Karen Hu, an urban planner living in NYC. photo by Tom Giebel On Mosco Street, one of the shortest streets in New York City, past a rolled-down storefront and up a flight of stairs, is Everything Frosted, a bakery founded by John Wu, a chef trained [...]

What of the less harried in the Year of the Rabbit? (Guest post by Ed Lin)
What of the less harried in the Year of the Rabbit? (Guest post by Ed Lin)

Open City welcomes Ed Lin (author of Waylaid, This Is a Bust, and Snakes Can’t Run), who wrote the following guest post: Whenever you see coverage about the Lunar New Year parade, there are prime examples of bad dancing, noisemakers (used to be firecrackers before it was determined that they were unsafe for the people [...]

Chinatown Soundscape Series – Stephen Yung Part I: This Is A New Song
Chinatown Soundscape Series - Stephen Yung Part I: This Is A New Song

Stephen Yung works seven days a week. During the weekdays, he works at a hotel on 52nd Street and Madison and then goes home to Flushing, Queens to balance an on-line sales business with his wife Fanny. When the weekend hits, you can find him on the karaoke stage at Asia Roma, cuing up the [...]

SPURA
SPURA

At the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, you’ll find one of few areas of the Lower East Side that still looks much like it did forty years ago. In 1967, city government demolished fourteen old tenements along Delancey Street, vowing to replace them with new apartment buildings. Some of the units were replaced, but several [...]

Upon the occasion of the Mondrian opening
Upon the occasion of the Mondrian opening

Walk around Chinatown and bordering neighborhoods these days and you might notice a marked proliferation of hotels.  Twenty, even ten years ago, these hotels would likely have been SROs (single-room occupancy), establishments serving a clientele of itinerant men or poor immigrants who cycled in and out of cheap bunks or otherwise tiny spaces.  These SROs [...]

Chinese Lunar New Year Parade – Mott and Hester
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade - Mott and Hester

Scenes from the day…

New Year’s Parade
New Year's Parade

Many thanks to Bryan Ong of Crimson Kings–Chinatown’s one of a kind drum, fife, and bugle corps–for letting us march in this year’s parade.

Year of the Rat (1963, 14 min., 16mm)
Year of the Rat (1963, 14 min., 16mm)

Forty eight years ago another year of the rabbit a kid from Chinatown released a short film entitled Year of the Rat. Documenting the new year: Chinatown 1960.  Mott Street, to be precise.  The General Store at 32 Mott, if my eyes are right. Then the crook of Mott where Pell interrupts. Men prep the [...]

Artist Feature: Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai – “No Community Is Static.”
Artist Feature: Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai - "No Community Is Static."

Let’s start with your poem ‘Ballad of a Maybe Gentrifier.’ I love it. It throws a wrench into the typical gentrification discussion by bringing to light the ways in which mobile, young, people of color participate in these processes. Can you talk about what inspired you to write this poem? Gentrification is so pervasive that [...]

Featured Profile: Teen Resource Center in Chinatown
Featured Profile: Teen Resource Center in Chinatown

The Teen Resource Center provides a safe and fun space for teenagers to hang out, support each other, gain accurate information, and advocate for themselves on health issues—ones as varied as STDs, stress management, and minors’ confidentiality rights.

Deli gentrification
Deli gentrification

If you want to track gentrification in New York City, look for tofu. Or basil. Or certain brands of canned tomatoes, dish detergent, and beer. In Bushwick, Crown Heights, Chinatown and many other neighborhoods across the city, delis and bodegas are being remade to suit the tastes of new residents. The coming and going of [...]

Jan 14, 10:50pm, E. Broadway and Rutgers
Jan 14, 10:50pm, E. Broadway and Rutgers

Built by Mr Wang and his wife, who run the grocery in the background. Nose: 69 cents. Arms: 99 cents each. Buttons: 2 for a dollar. (The store name is written on the traffic cone/hat.) This morning Mr. Wang was rebuilding the snowman with snow he had stored in a garbage bag. Built by the [...]

Notes on galleries, pt 2
Notes on galleries, pt 2

There are more than 70 art galleries and exhibition spaces in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. On Orchard Street alone, there are 16 galleries, including six that have opened since 2008 on the block between Hester and Canal. Several of these galleries preserve the Chinese names of the previous business above the storefront, the [...]

Two Scholarships for Restaurant Owners and their Children

Two $1,000 scholarships for restaurant workers and children of restaurant workers are available from the Shui Kuen and Allen Chin Scholarship, a program of the Asian Pacific Fund. The scholarship, founded in 2005, honors the values of Detroit restaurant owners Shui Kuen and Allen Chin through supporting the education aspirations of children of workers in [...]

Fire on my block!
Fire on my block!

Just woke up to the smell and the congestion of fire trucks outside my window 6th Street between A and B The Kitchen, a baby of a restaurant, open under a year, blackened out and the streak of smoke above it Am on my way to work, and don’t yet know the details but here’s [...]

In the beginning, there’s just sound
In the beginning, there's just sound

On Saturday, I went to the two New Year literary legends: the Poetry’s Project’s 37th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon at St. Mark’s Church, and Dark Matters, the 17th Annual Alternative New Year’s Day Marathon at the Bowery Poetry Club. Actually, I’d agreed to meet a friend at St. Mark’s Church to hear Patti Smith, but when [...]

Goodbye parlors
Goodbye parlors

1. Soup lines, warm beds, the corner of ragged coats. At the Vietnamese corner shop, buy your dvds, lotto tickets, bánh mì all in one place. Across the street, lanky undergrads disembark purple buses. 2. The Cantonese called it mai mo gai (buying hats street). In the morning cold we would idle in the car [...]

About Open City
Open City: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes. Read more.
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Featured Profile
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United. CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas: Read more.

See all Featured Profiles.
Community Announcements
Manhattan CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee
Monday, May 2 at 6:30 pm -- Rutgers Community Center, Gymnasium - 200 Madison Street (btwn Rutgers & Pike Sts)

Brooklyn CB7, Land Use/Landmarks Committee Regular meeting
Continued discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning

Manhattan CB3 Economic Development Committee Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm -- Community Board 3 Office - 59 East 4th Street (btwn 2nd Ave & Bowery)

Read more.

See all announcements.