The (temporary) closing of Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge street has thrown the world of bottom dollar dining into chaos. On the one hand, the aerial photograph of workers making those tasty dumplings in a Chinatown alley aside rats and trash is pretty gross. On the other hand, there is the lurching thought: “Where else can we get 50 frozen dumplings for $9 or 4 perfectly fried/steamed dumplings for $1???” We don’t want to know what goes on in a dollar dumpling kitchen, so we’ve never asked. And so here we are.
But have no fear. You may recall that in previous years, we sent intrepid columnist Luke Kingma to Chinatown several times a week for his column Sunday in Chinatown. He’s provided us here with a guide to 7 alternative dollar dumplings to tide you over until Prosperity Dumpling reopens.
Last month, Untapped Cities partnered with the Museum at Eldridge Street to open up the landmarked Eldridge Street Synagogue for an after hour wine reception for Untapped Cities readers. Before hand, we also hosted a Secrets of the Lower East Side tour created for Untapped in partnership with the Museum, led by Rachel Serkin, Family and Education Program Associate.
Below are 10 of our favorite secrets about this stunning historical space, located in Chinatown/Lower East Side that we learned on the tour. Sign up for advance notice for our next Secrets of the Lower East Side tour with the Museum at Eldridge Street this fall:
The New York City club scene throughout the 70s and up to the 80s was, in a word, completely ridiculous. Mind you, that’s completely ridiculous in what might be the best way. The scene was all about conjuring up the biggest, weirdest, most unashamedly outrageous personality you could, and hitting a couple of parties throughout the town until the early (and sometimes late) morning.
From the no-holds barred Studio 54, frequented by Andy Warhol and Tina Turner in the 70s, to the Limelight of the 90s, a hotspot for New York Club Kids like James St. James and Leigh Bowery, club life produced some interesting characters and some equally interesting art. ‘The Last Party,’ a collection of artworks from this hazy, strobe-light heavy period of New York’s youth culture primarily during the 70s and 80s, was opened Wednesday by Gallery 98 at the WhiteBox on Broome Street.
Take the most specific niche of photography you can think of, with what might be New York’s most unconventional gallery space, and you might come up with something a little like ‘Facing East.’ Billed as a look into the influence of ‘Chinese Urbanism in Africa,’ the exhibit premiered last night at Storefront for Art and Architecture, a small, irregularly shaped triangle of space on Kenmare Street near Chinatown.
Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest concentrations of Chinese people outside of China. Still comprising more than 90,000 inhabitants as of today, its colorful banners and bustling street marketplaces are a persisting fixture of Lower Manhattan. It can trace the inklings of its history down to a single person, Guangzhou-born businessman Ah Ken, who was the first person to permanently settle in the area that is now known as Chinatown in 1858. Today, it faces decline due to rising rents and the looming threat of gentrification, but holds with it an illustrious history, from Ah Ken’s original cigar shop to the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act to the immense expansion and diffusion to other New York Chinatowns after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
And yet, amid the changing times, demographics, and culture of what began as a small outcropping of the first Chinese immigrants to America, are the conversely unchanging roads and alleys that frame it. Some, like the infamous Doyers Street, are able to be traced back to the late 19th century. Others, like Pell Street, have only become recently recognizable due to its exposure on film and television.
In any case, if you ever find yourself wandering around Canal Street with little to do but learn about Chinatown’s history and people (as is frequently the case), the only thing you need to do is follow the streets. Here are a 5 notable alleys to check out:
Image via Annie Ling
The fourth floor of 81 Bowery was home to dozens of Chinese immigrants until March 7th, 2014 when authorities ordered the inhabitants to evacuate their home. The space had been composed of tiny cubicles for each of the residents of 81 Bowery who all shared a communal bathroom. Taiwanese-born, New York-based photographer Annie Ling had been taking photographs of the lodging house at 81 Bowery since 2009. Ling’s own Chinatown tenement had burned down in 2008, and for a year she was without a home. In her “81 Bowery” series, Ling captures the community of the lodging house by connecting the people to their space.