‘How to Chinatown’ in the Internet Age

Announcing the launch of “HowToChinatown” and Chinatown Arts Week. (Photo by Mike Hong via World Journal)

Think!Chinatown, a program founded by young Chinese Americans to preserve and reinvigorate Chinatown, announced on Oct. 24 the start of a new website called “How To Chinatown.” Funded by the city government, the website aims to present the hidden gems in Chinatown and the history and stories behind them to outsiders, and bring the historic neighborhood into the digital era. “Chinatown does not only have restaurants and grocery stores, but also arts and culture,” said the founders. “The traditional shops in Chinatown do not have to rely on low prices to survive. The hard work of the generation of our parents deserves to be respected.”

The website, initiated by Think!Chinatown, with the help of Chinatown Partnership, emerged after it was a winner in the Department of Small Business Service’s Neighborhood Challenge 5.0 grant competition. With user-friendly functions and vivid photos and stories of shops and cultural organizations laid out on a map of Chinatown, the website is a one-stop encyclopedia of its history and folklore, and its best offers.

Yin Kong, co-founder of Think!Chinatown, said she hopes the website will make Chinatown no longer belong only to the Chinese, and to “encourage more people to explore this neighborhood that’s full of culture, tradition and energy.” Meanwhile, it will bring more customers and opportunities to the small businesses and community organizations here, and help revitalize them in the Internet era while carrying traditions forward.

Kong said a team of young Chinese who are good at online marketing will work with older-generation Chinese who know the neighborhood the best to present the traditional shops, special products and the unique history and culture of Chinatown on the website, and bring Chinatown to the digital world.

“When they come to Chinatown, many people would search ‘coffee’ on Yelp, and the results would be all those trendy coffee shops that were newly opened amid the gentrification,” said Kong. “But Chinese bakeries like Mei Li Wah, which offer high-quality coffee and pastries at low prices and are popular among Chinatown residents, never come up.” She hopes the new website will make a difference by promoting traditional shops in Chinatown and breathing new life into them.

Meanwhile, Think!Chinatown also unveiled Chinatown Arts Week. From Oct. 24 to Oct. 30, the organization will promote a series of arts and cultural activities including traditional operas, tea ceremonies, tai chi, cuisine tasting and art exhibitions to show the all-around charm of Chinatown.

Go to howtochinatown.nyc for more details.

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