All good New Yorkers know that Lower Manhattan would lose a piece of its identity if Chinese businesses disappeared from Chinatown. In Little Italy, when the Italian Americans moved away, real estate brokers scrubbed one part of the area of its ethnic identity by renaming it NoLIta. If this tactic is successful a few blocks south, we could see apartment listings on Doyers and Pell Streets advertising their prime location in the heart of SoChiTo.
Walk around the neighborhood on any given day, and this scenario won’t seem as far-fetched as it should be. Chinatown started to empty out almost two years ago, when Covid-19 was still a rumor in New York City but a poisonous anti-Asian mood was rising, and it is still not packed the way it used to be. The tourists the area depends on still haven’t returned in force. And for the past few years,