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Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007 | All Things, Eats, NYC History

Remember when Little Italy encompassed more than just a couple of blocks around Mulberry Street just North of Canal?

Seasons Greetings

Little Italy Lights

When I was attending Chinese school in the 80s, Canal Street marked the border between Little Italy and Chinatown. With an influx of new immigrants from mainland China, particularly Fuzhou, Chinatown expanded to the North into the Old World enclave, and East along East Broadway and Canal into streets that used to be considered part of the Lower East Side.

The wretched 1987 film China Girl  dates to the bygone era when Canal Street was still in dispute. The film was promoted as a cross between Mean Streets and Romeo and Juliet — or West Side Story, without the music or dancing. In it, Chinese teenager Tyan-Hwa (Sari Chang) falls in love with Tony (Richard Panebianco), a pizza delivery boy from Little Italy. (He’s Eye-talian, see?) When a Chinese restaurant opens on the wrong side of Canal, tensions flare between the rival Chinese and Italian gangs, headed by Russell Wong and David Caruso, respectively. Yes, that  David Caruso.

Do I need to tell you how it all ends? Or which David Bowie song was used on the soundtrack? (Hint: it was named the “Best Male Video of the Year” at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.)

I was reminded when snapping these photos North of Canal that Joe’s Ginger, my onetime favorite source for pork-and-crab soup dumplings (xiao long bao), has closed — presumably not owing to Italian gang pressures.

There are 3 Comments ... No LIta

January 9, 2007

Does the entire history of China & the West involve the drug trade?

January 9, 2007

When did Joe’s Ginger close? Did his other offshoot(s) close as well?

January 9, 2007

Sadly: both drug and  human trafficking.

I don’t know when JG on Mott closed — it was already gone when I walked by — but the website continues to list the location on Pell Street, down the block from the (still extant) Joe’s Shanghai.

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