If you’re planning to head down to Chinatown for the celebration of the Lunar New Year, you’ll likely amble past the corner of Mott and Canal Streets, where there is a remarkable building like no other in New York. It’s called On Leong Tong, or, in English, the Merchants’ Association building. Built in 1950, it combines modernism (though you wouldn’t know it to look at it) with familiar Chinese architectural features—the pagoda roof, balconies, colorful columns and so on. Once you’ve seen it, you won’t forget it.
On Leong Tong
Image by Madhu Nair via Flickr
Back in March, we took a look at how Chinatown is predicted to undergo rapid changes within the next decade, transforming it into another haven for hipsters and real estate developers. As of right now, these changes are hard to see–luxury condos like Hester Gardens stand alone among the array of colorful shops and signs covered in Chinese characters. In fact, a past poll shows that readers are equally divided on Chinatown’s future.
As with all gentrifying neighborhoods, one of residents’ biggest fears is that the neighborhood will lose the cultural characteristics that make it unique. With this in mind, we’re taking stock of the iconic places that make Chinatown what it is. We’ve highlighted some of the neighborhood’s best restaurants and shops (think Economy Candy and Joe’s Shanghai), along with a few standout structures (the largest Buddhist temple in New York City, to name just one) that make this neighborhood unlike any other in the city.