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Chinatown, Brooklyn, or Brooklyn Chinatown (Chinese: 布鲁克林華埠),[1][2] in the Sunset Park area of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City itself. Because this Chinatown is rapidly evolving into an enclave predominantly of immigrants from Fujian Province in Mainland China, it is now increasingly common to refer to it as the Little Fuzhou of the Western Hemisphere.

By 1988, 90% of the storefronts on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, in southwestern Brooklyn, were abandoned. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area – not only new arrivals from China, but also residents of the Manhattan Chinatown in New York City’s Manhattan borough, seeking refuge from high rents, who fled to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the Brooklyn Chinatown.[1] This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan’s Chinatown in the past and had the highest Cantonese population in Brooklyn. However, in the recent decade, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been pouring into Brooklyn’s Chinatown and supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly higher rate than in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Brooklyn’s Chinatown is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants.

In the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of newly arriving Fuzhou immigrants were settling within Manhattan’s Chinatown, and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged in New York City within Manhattan’s Chinatown; by the 2000s, however, the epicenter of the massive Fuzhou influx had shifted to Brooklyn’s Chinatown, which is now home to the fastest growing and perhaps largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou in the Manhattan Chinatown, which remains surrounded by areas which continue to house significant populations of Cantonese, all of Brooklyn’s Chinatown is swiftly consolidating into New York City’s new Little Fuzhou. The quickly increasing Fuzhou population has caused the property values to double and the Fuzhou immigrants buying properties in this area are very likely to pay a higher price to buy the property they see and desire.
However, a growing community of Wenzhounese immigrants from China’s Zhejiang Province is now also arriving in Brooklyn Chinatown.[3][4] Also in contrast to Manhattan’s Chinatown, which still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in the western section of Manhattan’s Chinatown, where Cantonese residents have a communal gathering venue to shop, work, and socialize, Brooklyn’s Chinatown is now very quickly losing its Cantonese community identity, which once strongly resembled the western portion of Manhattan’s Chinatown.[5][6]

Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has attracted many Mainland Chinese immigrants, along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street. Some claim the reason the Chinese settled on 8th Avenue is because in Chinese folklore, the number eight is lucky for financial matters, and “8th Avenue” can be loosely interpreted as “road to wealth”. Another explanation is the direct subway ride to Manhattan’s Chinatown (紐約華埠) on the N/R and D lines.

In Chinese translation, 8th Avenue is called, 八大道. The Cantonese pronunciation for 8th Avenue sounds out to Bot Dai Do.[7]

8th Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even Hong Kong Supermarket. This Chinatown is also expanding robustly as Chinese businesses are also appearing on parts of 7th Avenue, and east on 9th Avenue. Recently in the community, the issues of overcrowding and more efficient sanitation have been raised. This Chinatown is very well known to be an extension of the original Chinatown in Manhattan.[8] However, that is changing because of the swiftly increasing concentration of the Fuzhou population and the declining Cantonese population; it can very easily be witnessed by the Chinese speaking population that it is increasingly becoming more specifically an extension of the Little Fuzhou on the East Broadway and Eldridge street portion of Manhattan’s Chinatown and becoming less of an extension of Manhattan’s Chinatown as a whole.

Brooklyn’s Chinatown is now very quickly becoming the New Little Fuzhou (小福州) or Brooklyn’s East Broadway (布鲁克林区的東百老匯), now quickly resembling East Broadway as the main gathering center for Fuzhou residents in Manhattan’s Chinatown; or rather becoming Fuzhou Town (福州埠) because it has likely surpassed the one within Manhattan’s Chinatown as the largest Fuzhou community in NYC. The Fuzhou population is also spreading into 7th and 9th Avenues and north onto 50th-42nd streets; this segment is also where most of the Fuzhou businesses are concentrated along 8th Avenue as well as on 7th avenue causing the Chinese community to expand further. Even though the Chinese community is quickly consolidating into a Fuzhou community and there are fewer Cantonese residents residing there, there are still many Cantonese people living in ethnically integrated areas near the Chinese community and still many Cantonese shops between 50th-62nd streets on 8th Avenue; however, the Cantonese presence is definitively giving way to an emerging Fuzhou community, albeit that many Cantonese still come from other parts of Brooklyn and elsewhere to shop on weekends.

By 2009 many Mandarin-speaking people had moved to Sunset Park.[9]

Brooklyn’s Satellite Chinatowns

Since Brooklyn’s Chinatown emergence on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park, the Chinese population has over the years expanded further into Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and Gravesend neighborhoods.[10][11] Homecrest Community Services, which serves Brooklyn’s Chinese population, opened in Sheepshead Bay in the area of Brooklyn’s second Chinatown in Homecrest and opened a smaller office in Brooklyn’s third new emerging Chinatown in Bensonhurst.[12]This emerging massive Chinese presence in Brooklyn has poured especially into Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, and Bensonhurst, due to the overcrowding and rising property values in the original Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park.

Chinatown, Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (唐人街, 羊头湾)

A second Chinatown has developed in southern Brooklyn, on Avenue U, overlapping the Homecrest and Sheepshead Bay areas, as evidenced by the growing number of Chinese-run food markets, bakeries, restaurants, beauty and nail salons, and computer and general electronics dealers. In Chinese translation, Avenue U is called U大道, and the Chinese translation for Sheepshead Bay is 羊头湾. [13][14][15]This Chinatown, which emerged during the late 1990s,[16] occupies less than ten blocks and is still in its early developing stages but is growing rapidly.[17] [18]The current size of the Avenue U Chinatown similarly resembles the beginning developing stages of Manhattan’s Chinatown from the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it originally only occupied the ten block section of Mott, Pell and Doyer Streets.[19][20][21] The Q train station on Canal Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown happens to be directly connected to Brooklyn’s Avenue U Chinatown. In a way, it is a second Brooklyn extension of Manhattan’s Chinatown and at the same time an extension of Brooklyn’s 8th Avenue Chinatown since the Chinese community in between Homecrest and Sheepshead Bay emerged as a result of congestion and rising property values in Brooklyn’s 8th Avenue Chinatown.[22] [23]

Chinatown, Bensonhurst (唐人街, 本森社区)

Nearby in southern Brooklyn in Bensonhurst, below the D-line elevated subway along on 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, is now emerging a third Chinatown in Brooklyn.[24] Within recent years, most new businesses opening within this portion of Bensonhurst’s 86th Street, especially between Bay Parkway and 25th Avenue, have been Chinese. The D trains happen to be directly connected from the Grand Street station in Manhattan’s Chinatown to the D train stops in this growing Chinese enclave between 18th Avenue and 25h Avenue, and in a way, it is becoming a third extension of Manhattan’s Chinatown. It is also in some way becoming a second extension of Brooklyn’s 8th Avenue Chinatown since the D trains are transferable to the N trains to travel to Brooklyn’s 8th Avenue Chinatown.[25] [26]On 86th Street, it is home to growing Chinese restaurants including the 86 Wong Chinese Restaurant, which is one of the earliest Chinese restaurants and businesses to be established on this street.[27] Chinese grocery stores, salons, bakeries, and other types of Chinese businesses are also growing on this street.

Currently, it is in its early stages developing as a Chinatown because there is still currently a mixture of different ethnic businesses and people, especially with many Italians and Russians still in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. However, with the highly rapid rate of growth of Chinese businesses and people on this street, the proportion of the Chinese population is increasing; the neighborhood is in the process of developing into the third Chinatown of Brooklyn, and it may likely surpass the size of the Avenue U Chinatown. With the migration of the Cantonese in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, and along with new Chinese immigration, other small clusters of Chinese people and businesses have grown in other parts of Bensonhurst as well integrating with other ethnic groups and businesses. Chinese translation terms Bensonhurst as 本森社区 and 86th street as 八十六街. The Avenue U Chinatown and this third emerging Chinatown of Brooklyn in Bensonhurst now carry the majority of the Cantonese population in Brooklyn, as the Cantonese dissipate from the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park.[28][29][30][31][32]

It is possible that a few more small Chinatowns might form as the Chinese population and number of Chinese businesses continue to grow in various sections of Bensonhurst as it can be witnessed.[33] The second Chinatown and third emerging Chinatown of Brooklyn, along with other emerging clusters of Chinese businesses and people in other parts of Bensonhurst particularly on 18th Avenue[34] and Bay Parkway around the N train lines, could possibly in the future become the new gathering centers and central business districts for the Cantonese residents in Brooklyn, resembling the western portion of Manhattan’s Chinatown in the same way that the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park is quickly becoming a gathering center and central business district for the Fuzhou residents in Brooklyn, resembling East Broadway in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

According to the Daily News, Brooklyn’s Asian population, mainly Chinese, has grown tremendously not only in the Sunset Park area, but also in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park. In Bensonhurst alone, from 2000 to 2010, the Asian population increased by 57%. The study also shows that Asians very often live in houses that are divided into studio apartments, which means there is a possibility that the increased Asian population could be more than what the census represents and causing stressors on the growing Asian population in Brooklyn.[35]

Brighton Beach, also known as “LittleOdessa” Chinatown Coney Island Gerritsen Beach Gravesend Homecrest Manhattan Beach Mapleton, Grays Farm Midwood Sea Gate Sheepshead Bay

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