Home to the highest concentrations of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, Chinatown is one of the most unique neighborhoods in New York City. Everything from the stores to the signs, to the people and the density is unique to Chinatown.
Chinatown’s borders are extremely fluid but for the most part it is bounded by Grand Street to the North, Allen Street to the East, Worth Street to the South and Lafayette Street to the West. In the past decade the lines between SoHo and Chinatown have been redefined. Many say that SoHo has "annexed" parts of Chinatown. Tenement apartments, which used to illegally house two to four persons per room, are now being replaced by glassy luxury condos. Rising residential rents have forced a good part of Chinatown’s immigrant community into Flushing Chinatown and Brooklyn Chinatown.
Given the density of the area, Chinatown has amazing retail. There are many Chinese groceries clustered around East Broadway, Mott Street and Mulberry Street where you can find fresh exotic produce and fresh fish at a fraction of the price of Manhattan’s traditional groceries. The Chinatown restaurant scene is impressive, with hundreds of Chinese and East Asian restaurants making it a magnet for foodies. Where CVS and Duane Reade dot every corner of Manhattan, Chinatown has massage parlors and herbal medicine stores on almost every block.
Most of the real estate in Chinatown is held through complicated ownership structures and very rarely do properties come on the open market. Chinese investors own most of the buildings in Chinatown and most transactions occur through relationships and off-market channels.