On notorious Doyers Street in Chinatown, nicknamed “The Bloody Angle” because the curvilinear street enabled gangs to creep up on one another unseen, you can still visit one of the tunnels which enabled some escapes. One entrance to the tunnel is in the middle of Doyers Street, next to the shop Coco Fashion near the trendy bar Apotheke and Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and takes you out onto Chatham Square on the Bowery. The tunnel is populated by small businesses ranging from feng shui shops, employment agencies, travel agencies, law firms and reflexology.
[Update: Part of the tunnel is now gone, with the conversion of 5-7 Doyers Street into a new forthcoming restaurant, Chinese Tuxedo. You can still visit the other half through Chatham Square however.]
In 1909, actor Ah Foon, knowing that his days were numbered after repeatedly taunting a rival gang in performances, was escorted through this tunnel from the Chinese theater that used to stand at 5-7 Doyers Street. He made it safely to his apartment but was shot on the landing in the middle of the night.
Here’s what the tunnel looks like today:
Next, read about the alleys and small streets in Chinatown. Read about this and more in David Freeland’s book Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.