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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Chinese Delmonico: 1910

Chinese Delmonico: 1910

New York circa 1910. "Pell Street, Chinatown." Mon Lay Won, a restaurant that billed itself as the "Chinese Delmonico," figured in the Tong Wars of the early 20th century. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Berlin in Chinatown

Just to the right of where the photographer was standing is my favorite restaurant in Chinatown; around the time of WWI it was a restaurant (with a brothel upstairs) that featured singing waiters, one of whom was a young Irving Berlin.

My favorite thing

about this photograph is that in spite of much movement going on while the picture was taken, the dog did not move a muscle. Good boy!

Mon Lay Won

Not sure what dialect Mon Lay Won is but the three Chinese characters on the menu mean in order: "Cloud", "village, lane or mile" and "many, 10,000." Village of 10,000 clouds?

In Mandarin it's pronounced Yun Li Wan.

Origins of Chinese in NYC

Discovered this fantastic site recently. This and the photos in the comments make me wonder -- where did the Chinese in Chinatown mostly come from? Hong Kong? My Chinese barely qualifies as rudimentary, but the "Heong" (in Lin Heong) looks Cantonese. No idea where "Mon Lay Won" (on the menu) would be from, unless the the "Won" refers to the first character, which again might be Cantonese. But there are so many mutually incomprehensible dialects that share the same writing...

Bloody Angle

Ninety degrees left is my favorite street in Chinatown, Doyers Street, a mysterious, cramped little curve cluttered with barber shops. In the basement at the corner of Pell and Doyers is an awesome Indonesian restaurant.

The interior of World of Vegetarian Dim Sum is pretty ordinary. I'd never have guessed its history; on the other hand, I'm not surprised, and that's part of what I love about Chinatown, the sense of continuity with the past, however unknown to me.

More old Chinatown

A little over a block away, 43 years later, my grandfather took a few pictures on Bayard and Mott. These two shots are looking east on Bayard, whereas the Delmonico shot is looking west on Pell. Funny but I was expecting to see cobblestones in the Delmonico shot, like in the shots from the 50's. One thing is similar, and that is the iron step railings. I'll attach the two shots, but you can see them larger here.

+99

Below is the same view from May of 2009.

Ghostly appearance

That ghosted girl looking like she's floating has a real spooky quality about it.
The gent in the white shirt and cap alongside his cohort look like they are not to be messed with. There's something happening here in this street that seems to spell trouble.

24

It seems that 24 Pell Street is still a restaurant. However, it is now the home of World of Vegetarian Dim-sum.

 
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