Thursday, April 3, 2014

A New York Minute: Scenes from Lower Manhattan

New Freedom Tower view from lower Manhattan.
Chinatown on Mott Street, NYC One of the things that makes NYC (all five boroughs included) unique are the different flavors each neighborhood brings to the whole cityscape. During my last visit to Brooklyn, we drove through lower Manhattan along Mott Street ("...and tell me what street, compares with Mott Street in July?") with its crowded sidewalks of various wares and restaurants lining the way. You can see how songs were written about this part of Manhattan at a time when pushcart vendors hawked their wares along this same stretch of cobble-stoned road.

Peking Duck House and signs written in Chinese along Mott Street.
Ethnic Flavors
Many people who envision America as one big melting pot might be surprised to see that such strongly ethnic neighborhoods as Chinatown still exist. Immigrants came through Ellis Island (my husband's family included), and settled in neighborhoods where people who spoke the same language were concentrated. Older grandparents often had a difficult time mastering their new country's language, so seeing signs in one's native tongue was a great comfort. Many newcomers started their own businesses, catering to neighbors of a similar background and ethnicity thus creating jobs for those in the community.

Mandarin style jackets and clothing for sale at Panda's,  24 Mott Street
So it doesn't surprise me that the new Freedom Tower would be visible from this part of lower Manhattan.  I took the lead shot through the moon roof of our car when we turned down Varick and then got onto Mott Street. We actually watched the Freedom Tower going up from Chelsea / The Meat Packing District last year. Now THAT was thrilling!

Another view of the Freedom Tower from lower Manhattan
So next time you get the chance to visit New York City, try some of the varied ethnic flavors to be found in lower Manhattan. Chinatown along Mott Street is just one of the Asian neighborhoods in the city, (also visit Korean Way in Midtown near Times Square). There you'll enjoy some of the most delicious and authentic experiences in the city. Here are the full lyrics to We'll Have Manhattan, written by Rodgers & Hart in 1925. It was my Dad's favorite song and I played it often for him on the organ at our home!

 We'll have Manhattan
The Bronx and Staten
Island too
It's lovely going through
The zoo
It's very fancy
On old Delancey
Street, you know
The subway charms us so
When balmy breezes blow
To and fro
And tell me what street
Compares with Mott Street
In July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gliding by
The great big city's a wondrous toy
Just made for a girl and boy
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy

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