9. Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center is one of New York City’s last great arcades
As one of New York City’s last great traditional arcades, Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center has managed to survive despite the surge of at-home video game consoles, hand-held gaming devices, and smartphones. Chinatown Fair opened in 1944, occupying the first floor of the popular Port Arthur Chinese Restaurant building at 7-9 Mott Street. At first, it operated as a penny arcade and small museum before becoming a video game arcade during the 1970s. In 1982, the arcade was purchased by an Indian immigrant named Sam Palmer.
Popular retro generation games at the arcade included classics like Pac-Man and Space Invaders. After the release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991, Chinatown Fair switched to focusing on competitive fighting games with top professional fighting game players like Justin Wong and NYChrisG frequenting the establishment.
Things began to change for Chinatown Fair when it closed down in February 2011, only opening one year later on May 5, 2012, under the new leadership of Lonnie Sobel. To appeal to a new clientele, Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center as it was newly named, introduced more family-friendly games. This shift caused criticism among competitive players who lamented the arcades’ switch to catering more towards casual players. Eventually, many of these players migrated to Next Level, a Brooklyn arcade owned by Chinatown Fair’s former manager. Most recently, in 2015, the arcade was featured in the documentary The Lost Arcade, which focused on the influence of Chinatown Fair on the fighting game community and New York City as a whole.