Chinese Bookstore in Flushing Shutters After 30 Years

Located on Roosevelt Avenue and only half a block from the Main Street station of the 7 train, Chung Hwa attracted customers from Flushing and other Queens neighborhoods. (Photo by Yichen Tu via Open City)

Located on Roosevelt Avenue and only half a block from the Main Street station of the 7 train, Chung Hwa attracted customers from Flushing and other Queens neighborhoods. (Photo by Yichen Tu via Open City)

For 30 years, the Chung Hwa bookstore in Flushing provided Chinese immigrants with resources for learning English and American culture, taking the naturalization and driving tests, and bringing them closer to their ethnic roots. In May of this year, however, the Roosevelt Avenue store closed due to a rent hike. As manager Wang Tao Ming told Yichen Tu of Open City, the monthly lease jumped from $20,000 four or five years ago to $50,000 this year. “That’s totally intolerable,” he said.

Mr. Zheng has been coming to the bookstore every weekend since it opened in 1986. (Photo by Yichen Tu via Open City)

Mr. Zheng has been coming to the bookstore every weekend since it opened in 1986. (Photo by Yichen Tu via Open City)

Mr. Zheng of Woodside was one of several patrons who explained to Tu why many in the community embraced the bookstore, known for its many Chinese books, traditional Chinese stationery and other goods, and its cozy atmosphere and friendly employees.

“In the ’90s, there was no Internet. The bookstore and the public library were the main resource center where you can read Chinese books or news. But the library has a very limited collection of Chinese books,” Zheng said, explaining how Chung Hwa became popular within the Chinese American community.

Mr. Zheng recalled how Chung Hwa Bookstore has become the community center in Flushing. “ When it opened in the late 80s, there weren’t too many Chinese in Flushing, “ he said.

Chinese grocery stores are really few, let alone Chinese bookstore. When Chung Hwa opened, it quickly became the destination of many Chinese immigrants.

Go to Open City to find out if there are other Chinese bookstores left in Flushing, and to hear from more longtime customers on what the bookstore meant to them. And find out from one artist what Chung Hwa was the only bookstore in NYC to have.

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