Taking Chinatown, Little Italy to new heights

City Councilmember Margaret Chin rose to new heights, literally, to promote the historic districts of Chinatown and Little Italy last Thursday, December 8.

Chin, along with Little Italy native Victor Papa, president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, were hoisted into the air in a cherry-picker to hang an inaugural banner on Mott Street to promote a Chinatown-Little Italy marketing campaign launched in September that aims to attract National September 11 Memorial visitors to the area.

Two Bridges along with other neighborhood organizations and businesses sponsored the 40 street banners that are adorned with illustrations of On Leong Tong, old tenements and other iconic neighborhood buildings. NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism and marketing organization, and others are distributing 25,000 maps that offer tips for shopping, dining, and other cultural attractions from East Houston Street to Worth Street. A smaller map of Downtown highlights pedestrian routes from the 9/11 Memorial to Chinatown and Little Italy.

“This is a great way to promote both communities [by] inviting people to come down and shop and eat, have lunch, have dinner… and get educated on the history of our community,” said Chin.

“It’s a historic day,” said Ralph Tramontana, president of the Little Italy Merchant’s Association and owner of Sambuca’s Café on Mulberry Street. “Eleven million Italian-Americans can trace their ancestry back to these streets here, and millions of Asian-Americans could do the same. What we do today ensures that this area will be here for our children and our grandchildren.”

“We are delighted to have an opportunity to showcase both communities with colorful banners, and [welcome] an occasion to have an uplifting experience with Councilwoman Margaret Chin,” said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, a campaign sponsor.

Papa noted that the new campaign “manifests a great symbiosis between the two communities, historically,” adding, “for 100 years, they lived peacefully with each other and have grown to understand each other.”

Jokingly, Papa added, “I grew up on wanton soup and Chinese food, and Chin grew up on spaghetti!”

Chin chuckled and playfully replied, “I grew up on calamari!”