A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 18, 2004
Chinatown
San Francisco's famous Chinatown was named earlier, but New York's came soon afterward. There are now Chinatowns in many other cities. It's difficult to say exactly when New York's Chinese community adopted the name "Chinatown," but it was probably in the 1880s.

"China town" was originally a California term for a town where Chinese workers (usually railroad workers) lived.


Wikipedia: Chinatown
A Chinatown is historically any ethnic enclave of Chinese or Han people outside China, Taiwan and Singapore. Areas known as "Chinatown" exist throughout the world, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, Australasia and Asia.

In the Americas, which includes North America, Central America and South America, Chinatowns have been around since the 1800s. The most prominent ones exist in the United States and Canada in New York City, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto. New York City is home to the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, including several Chinatowns in and around Manhattan, Flushing, and Brooklyn. There is also a Little Fuzhou developing in Manhattan and in a nearby area of Brooklyn.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
Chinatown
A section of a large town, especially a sea-port, in which Chinese live as a colony and to a great extent follow their own customs.
1857 Butte Record (Oroville, Calif.) 31 Jan. 2/7 Chinatown was wild with joy.

24 July 1858, Weekly San Joaquin Republican (Stockton, CA), pg. 1:
The "Melican" spread himself by kicking at the door of China Town.

9 April 1859, Chicago Press and Tribune, "Chinese in California," pg. 2:
About 200 miners at once responded, and the few Celestials who did not run away at once from fright were taken into the town of Shasta, marching between two files of armed miners, and dismissed at China-town, wit hthe warning that they should not again attempt to work in districts where the miners' local laws forbade.

18 July 1859, Mountain Democrat (Placerville, CA), pg. 2:
Rubbish on Denham Street (China town) above the bridge.

13 June 1860, New York Times, pg. 3:
On the 10th of June the volunteers returned to Chinatown and disbanded.
(In San Francisco -- ed.)
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Sunday, July 18, 2004 • Permalink