For the past three weekends, a bus departing New York City’s Chinatown for the Chinatowns of Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore was quite unlike the others – it was filled with artists and observers taking part in a sort of moving art fair. The Fung Wah Biennial, as it is known, is the brainchild of three curators as both an homage to the now-defunct Fung Wah bus service and as a tongue-in-cheek answer to high-flying international art fairs like Venice Biennale and Art Basel.
Artifacts uncovered at 50 Bowery in an archeological excavation. Photos by Chrysalis Archeological Consultants
Like many places in Chinatown, 50 Bowery is a site with layers and layers of history – since the days of the early settlement, it played host to waves of immigration and entertainment, and today is undergoing conversion into its latest incarnation: a 22-story hotel being developed by one of Chinatown’s notable real estate families. Starting in December, we were given special access to the construction site at 50 Bowery, along with the numerous archeological finds discovered beneath the site. While the New York Times has also recently covered the history and controversy amidst this historically rich site, we will show here the many unique remnants found during the excavation for the hotel.
5-7 Doyers Street when it was the Chinese Theatre/Chinese Opera House
Behind a storefront at 5-7 Doyers Street in Chinatown that long concealed a mahjong den and a famed tunnel that stretched to Chatham Square, will emerge a two-floor restaurant, the Chinese Tuxedo, named for the historic opera house that once stood just down the street. While the original location on the Bowery has been remade, rather indelicately into a Chase bank, the new Chinese Tuxedo aims to restore to public view the rich, cataclysmic history that has made Chinatown what is today.
The Mohegan Sun casino rises behind suburban ranch houses in Connecticut
Every Saturday and Sunday, 40,000 staff and visitors pass through the tiny town of Montville, Connecticut, population 20,000. Their destination is the Mohegan reservation, home to one of the biggest Indian casinos in the country, Mohegan Sun. Through a couple quirks of history, a sizeable and growing portion of those staff and visitors are Chinese immigrants, and their presence in suburban Connecticut is the subject of a new exhibition at the Museum of Chinese in America: “SubUrbanisms: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape.”
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. Join us for an upcoming tour of the secrets of the synagogue and a wine reception: