“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
New York names can be misleading. Little Italy should be called "Tiny and Sort of Italian" while Chinatown is a city atop Vietnamese noodles. Since Nolita seceded from the neighborhood, Little Italy has precious little to call its own besides the annual Feast of San Gennaro. The Ravenite Social Club once hosted Lucky Luciano and John Gotti as Little Italy's gangster hub; today it's an upscale shoe boutique. Today only 5 percent of Little Italy residents are actually Italian American, but anyone can be Italian for the night at classic eateries like Torrisi Italian Specialties and cozy Focolare. Chinatown and Little Italy share a boundary and a historic designation, but their outlook is strikingly different. The September 11 attacks had a chilling effect on business in neighboring Chinatown, with a sharp decline in tourism and the local garment trade. But the neighborhood rallied, and today Chinatown has around 90,000 residents, many of Chinese and Vietnamese descent. Though many residents arrived after 1965, this is one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in the West. The Museum of Chinese in America traces the story of Chinese New Yorkers from 1858 to the present, and offers walking tours covering historic Chinese restaurants, cinemas, stores, and landmarks.