Manhattan’s Chinatown at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century

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Following is an excerpt:
“The End of Chinatown,” so proclaims the Atlantic Magazine, is a sensationalized assertion based on new population counts showing a moderate decline from the previous decade. Negative growth could predict a long-term slide, but as demographers know, projections are fraught with uncertainties. The dismal forecast of waning enclaves, of course, is not new. In 1949, Rose Hum Lee in a much more scholarly fashion declared “The Decline of Chinatowns in the United States.” A little more than a decade later, Chinatowns embarked on a four-decade expansion, driven by an unforeseen historical development on the immigration front. The inaccuracy of the earlier declaration, however, is no guarantee that today’s assertion is wrong. Too many unknowns cloud even the best crystal ball. Among the factors that influence the future trajectory are the decisions and actions taken by stakeholders. Communities are not merely passive victims of predetermined history, thus effective action requires knowledge. The purpose of this essay is to inform the political and policy discourse on the future of these neighborhoods by examining the economic factors transforming New York City’s Chinatown in recent times.

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