Week 0: An Introduction to My Project

Mar 18, 2022

Welcome to the Commercial Health of New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown! My name is Courtney Huang and I have been at BASIS Independent Brooklyn since the 7th grade. With my senior project I seek to understand the challenges and find the solutions to the unique problems that Chinatown’s businesses face. While I will rely on existing research reports about the economic challenges of New York City’s Chinese American community, I will also conduct surveys, interviews with its residential members, and with those who frequent the neighborhood regularly. I look forward to exploring not only the present struggles but also the historical challenges this cultural enclave has faced. I hope what I learn and the data I record can lead to change for the small businesses which have been suffering from COVID-19 restrictions and have been impacted by tourism, gentrification, and more.

Throughout high school one of my passions has been working in Manhattan’s Chinatown in hopes of enacting change. Chinatown is a cultural district where people can immerse themselves in Chinese heritage, food, culture, and businesses. Through my multiple years of volunteering I have noticed some distinctive issues facing Chinese American businesses and the community as a whole:

1. The Model Minority Myth: This is the false association that Asian Americans work hard, are quiet, and do not speak out against unsatisfactory conditions.
2. The Misconception that Produce and the Community are Dirty and Cheap: A generalization about Chinatown is that the food is unrefined and that workers and businesses take short cuts.
3. Gentrification. It is undeniable that the factories, small businesses, and housing have been replaced with luxury hotels and losing out its traditional border to Soho.
4. Lack of Government Support: The city and state governments have done little to address all the issues I have listed above.

These troubling matters have also been exasperated and brought into the limelight because of COVID-19 and how hard it has hit Chinatown. Even before New York City’s businesses were forced to shut down because of the spread of the pandemic, Chinatown’s businesses were already receiving less business before then. With my Senior Project, I have the fortunate opportunity of working with Think!Chinatown to address my curiosity and desire to culminate change. With them, I will create a Commercial District Needs Assessment to highlight the business landscape and create a report that outlines to the local government the first steps that must be taken to revitalize and support the neighborhood. This is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to writing and working on it over the next few months.

Thank you for reading! For more information, please check out my proposal with this link: Courtney Huang Senior Project Proposal

One Reply to “Week 0: An Introduction to My Project”

  1. Sofia C. says:

    Courtney, this is such an interesting topic! I’m eager to learn more about Chinatown’s commercial district and how businesses were affected by the pandemic.

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