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Brooklyn Surpasses Manhattan’s Chinatown as an Asian Hub

BROOKLYN — Near Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst, a Chinese restaurant has two menus. One, “American Style,” is for the area’s longtime residents. The other, “Chinatown Style,” is for the Asian-Americans who have rapidly been moving into what for years had been an Italian-American stronghold.

In Sunset Park, in an industrial area, you see several garages and auto-repair businesses with Chinese lettering and Asian-American staffs. One of these automotive businesses shares its building with a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have an English menu.

These everyday scenes are just illustrations of a report from the Asian American Federation that was released on Friday. The fact that during the past 10 years the population of those New Yorkers has increased by 30 percent really isn’t news.

What is news, however, is that the Asian population of Brooklyn’s traditional Chinatown has decreased by 15 percent. At the same time, Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens have been booming.

According to the report, the Chinese-American population of Sunset Park East, or the area around Eighth Avenue, grew from 19,993 in 2000 to 34,210 in 2010, increasing by 71 percent. More and more Brooklyn residents are familiar with the area’s yearly Chinese New Year Parade, with its Lion and Dragon dances and its martial arts demonstrations. The Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, which started with one small office on Eighth Avenue in the late 1980s, now sponsors several senior centers, after-school programs, ESL classes and social services at multiple locations.

Chinese communities have also sprung up, as we’ve mentioned, in Homecrest, especially around Avenue U, and in Bensonhurst. These communities spread along the subway lines, continuing a longstanding pattern among immigrants.

"These different enclaves are starting to emerge," said Howard Shih, census programs director for the federation.

Chinese-Americans make up about half of all Asian immigrants, according to the survey. Other groups with large numbers include Indians, Koreans, Filipinos and, especially in Brooklyn, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. In Brooklyn, communities of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have formed in Midwood, Flatbush and Kensington, with Coney Island Avenue as a “spine.”

The Council of People’s Organizations, at 1081 Coney Island Ave., helps South Asian immigrants in the same way that the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association helps Chinese immigrants.

In the years immediately after 9/11, it also helped counsel Muslim immigrants who found themselves the object of suspicion because of their faith, their national origin and sometimes their immigration status.

April 20, 2012 - 4:48pm


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