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Chinatowns in Queens

File:NYC Main St Flushing station 4.jpg
Flushing Chinatown (法拉盛華埠)

There are multiple Chinatowns in the borough of Queens in New York City. The first one was in Flushing, followed by the development of newer Chinatowns in Elmhurst, Corona, Whitestone, and eastern Queens.


The New York metropolitan area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 779,269 individuals as of 2013,[1] including at least 12 Chinatowns - six[2] (or nine, including the emerging Chinatowns in Corona and Whitestone, Queens,[3] and East Harlem, Manhattan) in New York City proper, and one each in Nassau County, Long Island; Edison, New Jersey;[3] and Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area. Chinese Americans, as a whole, have had a (relatively) long tenure in New York City. The first Chinese immigrants came to Lower Manhattan around 1870, looking for the "golden" opportunities America had to offer.[4] By 1880, the enclave around Five Points was estimated to have from 200 to as many as 1,100 members.[4]

However, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which went into effect in 1882, caused an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who immigrated to New York and the rest of the United States.[4] Later, in 1943, the Chinese were given a small quota, and the community's population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed.[4] In the past few years, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated the Chinatowns for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin Chinese, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.[5]

Citywide demographics

As the city proper with the nation's largest Chinese American population by a wide margin, with an estimated 557,862 individuals in 2013,[6] and as the primary destination for new Chinese immigrants,[7] New York City is subdivided into official municipal boroughs, which themselves are home to significant Chinese populations, with Brooklyn and Queens leading the fastest growth.[8][9] Other than New York City taken as a whole, Queens is home to the highest Chinese American population of any municipality in the United States.

Rank Borough Chinese Americans Density of Chinese Americans per square mile Percentage of Chinese Americans in municipality's population
1 Queens (皇后) 208,897 1,912.3 9.2
2 Brooklyn 195,750 2,772.3 7.6
3 Manhattan 97,461 4,244.8 6.0
4 Staten Island 13,620 232.9 2.9
5 The Bronx 6,891 164 0.5
Total for New York City (2012) 522,619 1,727.1 6.3

Flushing Chinatown (法拉盛華埠)

Flushing Chinatown
Chinese: 法拉盛; pinyin: Fǎlāshèng
Neighborhood of New York City
41st Avenue in Flushing Chinatown
41st Avenue in Flushing Chinatown
Country United States of America
State New York
City New York City
Borough Queens
Region Long Island
Chinatown, Flushing
Traditional Chinese 法拉盛華埠
Simplified Chinese 法拉盛华埠

Flushing Chinatown (法拉盛華埠), or Mandarin Town Flushing (國語埠法拉盛)[10] in Flushing, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City itself. In Mandarin, Flushing is known as "Falasheng" (Chinese: 法拉盛; pinyin: Fǎlāshèng). Flushing Chinatown is in Main Street and the area to its west, particularly along Roosevelt Avenue, have become the primary nexus of Flushing Chinatown. However, Chinatown continues to expand southeastward along Kissena Boulevard and northward beyond Northern Boulevard.


Before Chinatown

In 1645, Flushing was established by Dutch settlers on the eastern bank of Flushing Creek under charter of the Dutch West India Company and was part of the New Netherland colony. The settlement was named after the city of Vlissingen, in the southwestern Netherlands, the main port of the company; Flushing is the historic anglicization of the Dutch name of that town.

In 1664, the English took control of New Amsterdam, ending Dutch control of the colony, and renamed it the Province of New York. When Queens County was established in 1683, the "Town of Flushing" was one of the original five towns which comprised the county.[11] Many historical references to Flushing are to this town, bounded from Newtown on the west by Flushing Creek (now often called the Flushing River), from Jamaica on the south by the "hills" -- that is, the terminal moraine left by the last glacier, and from Hempstead on the east by what later became the Nassau County line. The town was dissolved in 1898 when Queens became a borough of New York City, and the term "Flushing" today usually refers to a much smaller area, including the former Village of Flushing and the areas immediately to the east and south. It was later settled by multiple ethnic groups, including people of European, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, African American, and Asian ancestry.

Emergence as Little Taipei(小台北) / Little Taiwan(小台灣)

In the 1970s, a Chinese community established a foothold in Flushing, whose demographic constituency had been predominantly White, interspersed with a small Japanese community. This wave of immigrants from Taiwan were the first to arrive and developed Flushing's Chinatown. It was known as Little Taipei (小台北) or Little Taiwan (小台灣). Many who arrived were the descendants of former soldiers and political supporters of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalist Party, which had lost the war against the Communist Party of China, and established themselves in Taiwan. Along with immigrants from Taiwan at this time, a large South Korean population also called Flushing home.

Before the 1970s, Cantonese immigrants had vastly dominated Chinese immigration to New York City; however during the 1970s, the Taiwanese immigrants were the first wave of Chinese immigrants who spoke Mandarin rather than Cantonese to arrive in New York City. Due to the dominance of Cantonese-speaking immigrants, who were largely working-class in Manhattan's Chinatown (紐約華埠), as well as the language barrier and poor housing conditions there, Taiwanese immigrants, who were more likely to have attained higher educational standards and socioeconomic status, could not relate to Manhattan's Chinatown, and chose to settle in Flushing instead.

As the Taiwanese population grew, a Flushing Chinatown was created with a higher standard of living and better housing conditions.

Mandarin Town, Flushing (國語埠, 法拉盛華埠)

Over the years, many new non-Cantonese ethnic Chinese immigrants from different regions and provinces of China started to arrive in New York City. This led to the creation of a more Mandarin-speaking Chinatown or Mandarin Town (國語埠) that gradually replaced Little Taipei. This wave of immigrants spoke Mandarin and various regional/provincial dialects. Like the Taiwanese, they faced cultural and communication problems in Manhattan's Cantonese-speaking Chinatown and settled in Flushing as well as Elmhurst, Queens, which also has a significant Mandarin-speaking population. Flushing's Chinese population became very diverse over the next few decades as people from different provinces started to arrive, infusing their varied languages and cultures into its Chinatown.[12][13][14][15]

Flushing and its Chinatown abuts the rapidly growing Long Island Koreatown (롱 아일랜드 코리아타운) as well.[16]

Chinese demographic

The intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, the business center for Flushing, on the westernmost edge of the neighborhood, has a large concentration of Chinese and Korean businesses, including Asian restaurants. Chinese-owned businesses in particular dominate the area along Main Street and the blocks west of it. Many of the signs and advertisements of the stores in the area are in Chinese. Ethnic Chinese constitute an increasingly dominant proportion of the Asian population and as well as of the overall population in Flushing. Consequently, Flushing's Chinatown has grown rapidly enough to become the second-largest Chinatown outside of Asia. In fact, the Flushing Chinatown may surpass the original Manhattan Chinatown itself within a few years.[17][12][18]

A 1986 estimate by the Flushing Chinese Business Association approximated 60,000 Chinese in Flushing alone.[19] By 1990, Asians constituted 41% of the population of the core area of Flushing, with Chinese in turn representing 41% of the Asian population.[12] However, ethnic Chinese are constituting an increasingly dominant proportion of the Asian population as well as of the overall population in Flushing and its Chinatown. High rates of both legal[20][21] and illegal[22] immigration from Mainland China continue to spur the ongoing rise of the ethnic Chinese population in Flushing, as in all of New York City's Chinatowns.

According to a Daily News article, Flushing's Chinatown ranks as New York City's second largest Chinese community with 33,526 Chinese, up from 17,363, a 93% increase. The Brooklyn Chinatown (布鲁克林華埠) now ranks #1 as the largest Chinatown of NYC with 34,218 Chinese residents, up from 19,963 in 2000, a 71% increase. As for Manhattan's Chinatown, its Chinese population declined by 17%, from 34,554 to 28,681 since 2000 to rank #3.[23]


Flushing now rivals Manhattan's Chinatown as a center of Chinese culture[24] and has been called the "Chinese Manhattan".[25] The Lunar New Year Parade has become a growing annual celebration of Chinese New Year. More and larger Chinese supermarkets are locating and selling a diverse and uniquely vast array of Chinese food and ingredient selections in Flushing, the largest of which include Hong Kong Supermarket and New York Supermarket, which also happen to be rapidly growing Chinese American chain supermarkets.[26][27][28] Flushing's rise as an epicenter of Chinese culture outside of Asia has been attributed to the remarkable diversity of regional Chinese demographics represented.


Mandarin Chinese[29] (including Northeastern Mandarin), Fuzhou dialect, Min Nan Fujianese, Wu Chinese, Beijing dialect, Wenzhounese, Shanghainese, Suzhou dialect, Hangzhou dialect, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and English are all prevalently spoken in Flushing Chinatown, while the Mongolian language is now emerging.


The popular styles of Chinese cuisine are ubiquitously accessible in Flushing,[30] including Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Hunanese, Szechuan, Cantonese, Fujianese, Xinjiang, Zhejiang, and Korean Chinese cuisine. Even the relatively obscure Dongbei style of cuisine indigenous to Northeast China is now available in Flushing,[31] as well as Mongolian cuisine.


The World Journal, one of the largest Chinese-language newspapers outside of China, is headquartered in adjacent Whitestone (白石), Queens, with offices in Flushing as well.[32] Numerous other Chinese newspapers such as the China Press and Sing Tao newspaper's sales are rapidly eclipsing the World Journal in terms of sales - and other English-language publications are available in Flushing.

Educational centers

In accompaniment with its rapid growth, Flushing in particular has witnessed the proliferation of highly competitive businesses touted as educational centers as well as non-profit organizations declaring the intent to educate the community. Some entities offer education in Mandarin,[33] the lingua franca of Mainland China; others profess to provide students with intensive training in computer and technological proficiency; while still others entice high school students with rigorous preparatory classes for college entrance examinations in mathematics, science, and English literacy.

Public institutions and services

File:QPL Flushing jeh.JPG
A branch of the Queens Library in Flushing Chinatown.

The largest of the Flushing branches of the Queens Borough Public Library is located at the intersection of Kissena Boulevard and Main Street (see below).[34] This library houses an auditorium for public events.

New York Hospital Queens, a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, is a major medical center providing Flushing as well as surrounding communities with comprehensive medical care services.[35] Numerous tertiary medical clinics also serve the residents of Flushing.

A diverse array of social services geared toward assisting recent as well as established Chinese immigrants is readily available in Flushing.[36]


The New York City Subway's 7 <7> trains has its terminus at Flushing – Main Street; the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, at the heart of Flushing Chinatown, is the third busiest intersection in New York City, behind only Times Square and Herald Square in Manhattan. It is the busiest subway station in Queens[37] Numerous other public bus and rail connections also serve Chinatown at the Main Street/Roosevelt Avenue intersection, including 22 bus routes as well as the Port Washington Branch branch of the Long Island Railroad.[38] Flushing Chinatown is also readily accessible by automobile from several major highways, namely the Grand Central Parkway and the Whitestone Expressway/Van Wyck Expressway. There are also multiple dollar van services shuttling passengers between Flushing Chinatown and the other Chinatowns in New York City and Long Island.

Political clout

The political stature of Flushing Chinatown appears to be increasing significantly. Taiwan-born John Liu, former New York City Council member representing District 20, which includes Flushing Chinatown and other northern Queens neighborhoods, was elected to his current position of New York City Comptroller in November 2009. Concomitantly, Peter Koo, born in Shanghai, China was elected to succeed Liu to assume this council membership seat.

File:Bwy Elmhurst Chinatown jeh.jpg
The Elmhurst Chinatown (唐人街, 艾姆赫斯特) on Broadway, a satellite of Flushing Chinatown.

Satellite Chinatowns

Elmhurst Chinatown (艾姆赫斯特)

Elmhurst's rapidly growing Chinatown (艾浒 唐人街)[39] is the second in Queens, in addition to the Flushing Chinatown. Previously a small area with Chinese shops on Broadway between 81st Street and Cornish Avenue, this newly evolved second Chinatown in Queens has now expanded to 45th Avenue and Whitney Avenue and is developing as a satellite of the Flushing Chinatown. In Chinese translation, Elmhurst is named 艾浒 (Àihǔ in Standard Chinese). There are also many other Southeast Asian businesses and shops in the area, including Malaysian Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. Hong Kong Supermarket and New York Supermarket serve as the largest Chinese supermarkets selling different food varieties to this Elmhurst Chinatown.[40][41] So far, the Asia Bank serves as the only Chinese bank and the main financial resource business for this thriving Chinatown,[42] though HSBC, Chase and other banks also are located in Elmhurst along Broadway. Like Flushing's Chinatown, it is also very highly populated by Mandarin speakers, although many also speak their own regional Chinese languages/dialects.

Emerging Corona Chinatown

An annexation of the Elmhurst Chinatown is the neighborhood of Corona, emerging as a Chinatown geographically connecting the larger Chinatowns in Flushing and Elmhurst.[43]

File:World Journal Whitestone jeh.JPG
The World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States[44] and one of the largest Chinese-language newspapers outside of China, with a daily circulation of 350,000, is headquartered in Whitestone (白石), Queens, with offices in the adjacent Flushing Chinatown as well.[32]

Emerging Chinatown in Whitestone (白石)

Since 2000, thousands of Chinese Americans have migrated into Whitestone (白石), given the sizeable presence of the neighboring Flushing Chinatown, and have continued their expansion eastward in Queens and into neighboring Nassau County (拿騷縣) on Long Island (長島).[45][46][44] The World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States[44] and one of the largest Chinese-language newspapers outside of China, with a daily circulation of 350,000, is headquartered in Whitestone.[32] The New York office of Hong Kong-based Lee Kum Kee International Holdings Ltd. is also located in Whitestone.[47]

See also




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  7. ^ "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012 Supplemental Table 2". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  8. ^ "Kings County (Brooklyn Borough), New York QuickLinks". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
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