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Chatham Square

From tattoo parlours to Prohibition-era reform, this Chinatown intersection is full of history.

TravelCurious Tip

Head to the nearby “Great NY Noodletown" for some quintessentially Chinese cuisine and a couple of bottles of Tsingdao

Chatham Square is a major intersection in Chinatown, Manhattan. Named after William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham and Prime Minister of Great Britain before the American revolution, it has had a chequered history: in the 19th century it was variously a large open air market for livestock and a centre for tattoo parlours, flophouses and saloons. However, after the Great Depression the area was reformed.


Like Babushka dolls, Chatham Square also contains a small park known as Kimlau Square. This contains the Kimlau memorial arch, which was erected to honour United States service members of Chinese ancestry who fought and died serving their country. Nearby stands a bronze statue of Lin Zexu, a Chinese scholar and official of the Qing dynasty who mounted campaigns against the British opium trade in the 19th Century. The base of the statue is inscribed with “Don’t do drugs” in English and Chinese.


Just a short walk away lies the Chatham Square Library, which has long been an integral part of the local community and one of New York’s busiest libraries. The entire second floor and part of the third are dedicated to children, so take your tots along for a little reading in the bright, pint-sized setting.


The Great Escape

Chatham Square is a great place to start your Chinatown explorations. It is also the exit point of the Doyers Street Tunnel. Doyers Street in Chinatown was once notorious and known as “The Bloody Angle” because its shape allowed gangs to creep up on one another unseen. Back then, the tunnel allowed for some pretty sharpish escapes; now, it’s full of Feng shui shops, small law firms and reflexology centres.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
Old Police Headquarters
Today a group of luxury apartments, the NYPD's former headquarters is one of the finest Beaux-Arts buildings in all New York.
Little Italy
A nostalgic area full of the legacies of Italian immigrant culture at the turn of the 20th century.
Manhattan Chinatown
A bustling district home to the largest Chinese population in the Western Hemisphere.
City Hall Park
Common area outside City Hall that has seen been the site of many historic events
New York City Hall
Fine 19th century building that hosts the Mayor’s office
5th Precinct
One of New York's most well known precincts. It polices Chinatown and Little Italy.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour of Little Italy, Soho and Chinatown
The different neighbourhoods of New York each have something to give the curious traveller. Go with your personal guide to see four of its most vibrant districts to see many of New York’s off the beaten path sights.
      
  • Enjoy avant-garde  Greenwich Village
  • Experience the artistic soul of Soho
  • See the impact of immigrants in Little Italy and Chinatown 
The Village
 

 Simply known as “The Village” and much loved by native New Yorkers, Greenwich has been, and still is home to America’s bohemian scene. You will start at Washington Square Park, a buzzing city hangout, where you will discover cobblestoned mews and 19th century brownstone carriage houses. You will glimpse some of New York’s rarest sights, for example, the home where John Wilkes Booth spoke openly of his plan to murder President Abraham Lincoln. Pass by such landmarks as the Jefferson Market Library and Bleecker Street, as well as where Hemingway, Edgar Poe, Jackson Pollack lived and worked. 

 Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown

You will proceed to explore New York City’s vibrant neighbourhoods of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown. You will venture through Soho where you will learn about its transformation from its' humble beginnings as a centre for the rag trade industry, eventually becoming an extravagant artist community. You will see Soho's unique collection of cast iron buildings such as the Haughwout Building, home to the first safety elevator, and the Old Police Headquarters— the 1909 Beaux-Arts building.
 
While walking the narrow cobblestone streets in the heart of Little Italy, you will learn about Mafia hangouts, the most famous of which is Ravenite Club. You will pop into the oldest cheese shop in NYC and the first NYC pizzeria, as well as exploring Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Journey through NYC’s Chinatown, walk along Canal and Motts Streets, the former Five Points District, and the Old Opium Den, where you will hear stories of Chinese immigrants who came to Manhattan to build a future of their own. Your expert local guide will also tell you all about the violent gangs that sprang up around them, fighting for dominance. 
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