A Second Chinatown in Brooklyn
From The World Journal
April 17, 2004

As the Chinese population grows and the number of their businesses rises, Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, has become the second “Chinatown” in the borough, after Eighth Avenue. Showing no sign of waning, however, Eighth Avenue has started expanding to Seventh Avenue.

Sheepshead Bay has grown rapidly in recent years, said Mr. Chen, a local resident. Five years ago, Chinese stores were available only near the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue U, he said. Since then, more stores have opened eastward along Avenue U. There is also greater variety in the businesses: There used to be restaurants and supermarkets; now there are cell-phone stores, bakeries, photo developers and dentists’. As Chinese population grows, the community has become more mature.

As for the better-established Eighth Avenue, rents are soaring as more businesses move in. Mr. Shen, a long-time resident, said monthly rent for an average-sized store stands at $3,000. Start-up businesses that couldn’t afford the rent have turned to nearby Seventh Avenue. Some shops on Eighth Avenue between 50th and 60th streets have also moved to Seventh Avenue for rent as low as $1,500, or half of that a block away.

Chinatown in Manhattan, which dates back more than a hundred years, has seen a similar growth pattern: It started from some isolated businesses, which led to more along same streets and then expanded into the entire neighborhood. The same story was repeated along Main Street in Queens about 20 years ago. Now, what will the two “Chinatowns” in Brooklyn, both growing, be like? Community figures say as long as new Chinese immigrants continue to come to the city, “Chinatowns” in Brooklyn and other boroughs will all flourish.

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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai.

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