Walking in Little Italy in New York is one thing, but to cross Canal Street and move south is walking into another world entirely. They speak a different language. If it weren't for some visual cues reminding me I am still in the United States, I would swear I wasn't. Although we didn't speak the language and we didn't look like we belonged here, we didn't once feel unwelcome or at risk. Not once!
A colorful shop in Chinatown.
The picture of the man arranging fresh fish on ice could have been taken in in markets in San Francisco or Seattle, but his was a store front along a bustling street in New York, and part of a much larger ethnic neighborhood.
Four young boys walk down Mulberry street, across from Columbus Park.
Produce in carts and bins lined the street as my son and I walked around on a Sunday morning.
After pizza in Little Italy my son and I walked south on Mulberry Street and chanced upon Columbus Park in Chinatown. We heard the tin sounding clang of symbols and high pitch sing of an old woman as we entered the park to see several hundred oriental people who all seemed to be 60 or older socializing in some kind of community event. I don't know if this was normal or a weekly gathering, but, but I decided to linger and take in the scene before I started taking pictures. There were old women playing cards near a statue of some Chinese patriarch (above), and groups of old men talking and laughing while smoking filter-less cigarettes, all while people from the community played what seemed to be traditional songs.
No one made a fuss about our presence, yet we were not ignored either. This was not an event put on for tourists; I could count on two hand people in the park who looked like my son or I, and not once did I hear English spoken in the park. I felt strangely privileged to be at this place with my son, and reminded him to be still and take it in. He was out of our zone in this exotic park, but not uncomfortable. I wanted to stay and linger awhile longer but we only had two days and so much to see. We moved on.
The buildings in the above picture are on Mott Street. I learned later a scene from The Godfather had been filmed there. I would go back to Chinatown, and encourage anyone to visit, just to walk the street and feel the rhythm of this incredible section of Manhattan. It's like you're in another world.