A Journey Through Chinatown

Chatham Square - Kimlau Square

Images copyright RK Chin,
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see also: Chatham Sq Storefronts

Chatham Square has seven roads leading into it. For many decades in the 1700s to 1800s, the square was used as a huge outdoor horse, and houseware marketplace. By the mid-1800s, the square converted into an Old Times Square of sorts, only 10x seedier. Many flophouses, tattoo parlors (birthplace of American style tattoos), and saloons were based here to keep any number of sailors and soldiers busy. The Great Depression and Prohibition helped wipe all that away.

Recently, in 2001, major road construction was completed to improve traffic flow, and boost pedestrian safety through the area — crossing the street here used to be a harrowing experience. The two traffic lanes adjacent to the Kimlau Memorial Arch was converted into a small plaza, and rededicated Kimlau Square.

30 October 2005. Chatham Square.

25 February 2002. This street is located across the street from Chatham Square, and one block from Confucius Plaza (with the statue of Confucius barely visible in this photo). There is an OTB parlor located on this block, and often you see people milling around outside it. Next door is the Wing Fat Shopping Arcade located downstairs in an old tunnel that is a part of Chinatown lore.

04 July 2006. This kitsch pagoda style building was built in the 1970s as a branch of the manhattan savings bank.

06 March 2002. The arch at Chatham Square was erected in memory to all Chinese Americans who fought and gave their lives in defense of freedom and democracy. The arch was named for 2nd Lt. Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, a World War II aircraft commander of the 530th Squadron.

The statue in the background is Lin Ze Xu (Lin Tse-hsu), the Qing Dynasty official who was sent to Canton to stop imperialists from forcing opium onto China in 1839. Events of which led to the Opium War, the Treaty of Nanjing, and the ceding of Hong Kong to Britain.

View east along East Broadway

Located on a tiny triangle of land on St. James Place, nearby, is the First Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Shearith Israel. Consecrated 1656.

Chatham Square in 1812.

Chatham Square in 1858.

Chatham Square in 1880. read more about the manhattan railway

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