One of the world’s largest enclaves of Chinese immigrants is located in New York City. The New York Chinatown community is one of the oldest such concentrations of ethnic Chinese outside of Asia. Currently bordered by Grand, Allen, Worth and Lafayette Streets, the neighborhood traces its origins back to the 1840s in the area encompassing Ah Ken’s Park Row cigar store. As the community grew along Mott Street, it bordered the old Five Points neighborhood. When the New York razed this infamous slum, the officials created Columbus Park. This is the only park in Chinatown. The neighborhood has grown to the point where its expansion is beginning to encompass the geographical area that was once Little Italy.
The community initially grew as more Chinese immigrants moved to the east coast to avoid the discrimination that was occurring on America’s west coast. The neighborhood became the backdrop for numerous hand laundries and ethnic restaurants. Population growth slowed as a result of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, but it dramatically reversed with the passage of immigration reform in the 1960s. Over the past several years, the Mandarin language has overtaken Cantonese as the primary dialect spoken within the neighborhood as more immigrants come from mainland China rather than Hong Kong.
New York's Chinatown is a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood with a major concentration of ethnic Chinese markets, restaurants and shops.