South of E. Broadway, a Neighborhood Forgotten

Vehicles with paint poured on them. (Photos via Sing Tao Daily)

In this city that attracts world attention, the neighborhood south of East Broadway to Madison Street in lower Manhattan is like a corner forgotten by anyone who doesn’t live or work there. Crime is rising, parks are dilapidated, and stink seeps out from the manholes. All of this creates headaches for residents and businesses in the neighborhood.

“In general, public safety in Chinatown has improved a lot. This neighborhood is also cleaner and more orderly. But this neighborhood around Pike Street is clearly forgotten by the city,” said Mr. Lin, who has run a convenience store on Pike Street for 18 years. Lin said the safety in the neighborhood has been deteriorating. Not only have his vehicles been vandalized, but his shop is also frequently the target of thieves. This has bothered him a lot.

Recently paint was poured over the two trucks Lin owns when they were parked on nearby Henry Street. It took two of his employees four hours to clean them off. Lin said this was not the first time things like this happened to him. Each time, he reports the incident to the police, but nothing seems to change. He figured his trucks may have angered the vandals by taking some precious parking space, and, therefore, he was “taught a lesson.”

“Parking space is so limited in Chinatown. This is a big problem here,” said Lin. “We have no other choice but to park our trucks along the curbside close to our store. This may have made some residents mad.”

But Lin is not the only one who is bothered by petty crimes like this. In the public housing projects in this neighborhood, residents are not living a worry-free life. “When we see thieves or robbers, we definitely chase after them. But if they flee to the projects, I have to stop there.(…),” said Mr. Lin, who has been an auxiliary cop for 20 years.

A lady working at a print shop on Pike Street between Henry and Madison streets said robbery is out-of-control in this neighborhood, and she doesn’t dare to walk on the street alone at night.

Other than the parking and public housing issues, the casino buses that load passengers in the neighborhood also contribute to the deterioration in security. A resident said many casino buses park along Pike Street and they offer a gold mine for thieves. (…)  “Seniors who just come back from the casinos and carry a lot of cash are their main targets,” the resident said.

The parks in the neighborhood are not in good shape. Elsewhere in Chinatown, the parks are covered by canopies of trees and attract many visitors. The park at the intersection of East Broadway and Pike Street is dilapidated and desolate.  Ms. Pang, who lives nearby, said people don’t feel safe sitting in the park even during daytime. “A big park like this is empty all the time. What a pity,” she said. “If the city could renovate the park and make it look appealing, maybe it would be safer too.”

Some business owners working around the park also said the manholes in the area are smelly. And the stink seeping out deters their customers and makes them lose a lot of business. “The Department of Parks doesn’t care about this park. It has never sent anybody here to take a look,” said the business owners.

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