Current language

The Fusion: New York’s Chinatown

Souvenirs of America 

At the heart of our collection for Autumn ‘23, Souvenirs of America, is the idea of different cultures meeting and exchanging ideas. The New York enclave of Chinatown fit perfectly into this concept, which is why we chose it as one of the settings for the season.

At first, the signals that you’re about to step into another world are small. A street sign duplicated in Cantonese. The odd building or shop that stands out from the crowd. But when you arrive, it’s unmistakable.

Suddenly, the American architecture is decorated with bright red and green facades, restaurant fronts boast delicacies from China and East Asia, and the streets are lined with distinctive Chinese lanterns.

Perhaps the most famous Chinatown in the world, the enclave is nestled in the center of New York on the island of Manhattan, occupying pride of place in one of the world’s great cities.


Sitting at the heart of Chinatown lies the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, which counts itself as the oldest Buddhist temple founded on the East Coast of the US.

The leader of the temple, Venerable Kuo Ming, is a first-generation immigrant from China, who has been leading Dharma services since 2016.

Speaking about the temple’s mission of providing a safe and friendly space for nurturing well-being, Ven. Kuo Ming described the space as somewhere that brings people together.

While the temple naturally caters to New York’s Buddhist population who mostly trace their roots to East Asia, those with a Western heritage also frequent the temple, incorporating modest parts of it into their lives.

Sometimes, this can be as small as attending the occasional meditation session or reading a book while enjoying the calming atmosphere of the building. Despite being found at the center of one of the busiest and noisiest cities in the world, the Mahayana Temple is remarkably quiet and peaceful.

At its core, the temple exists to bring people together via the vehicle of a different approach to life. Even if the residents of New York don’t consider themselves to be Buddhist, they’re invited in to take a souvenir of an important element of East Asian culture.


Come rain or shine, the northern side of Columbus Park in Chinatown is busy. At stone tables Xiangqi masters battle to best each other at the Chinese board game while a small crowd watches on. At the badminton court, a Tai Chi teacher demonstrates new moves to his students.

Meanwhile, a trio of buskers add melody to the gentle background noise of spoken Mandarin as they play traditional Chinese instruments like the Dizi flute and Erhu fiddle.

In the south side of the park, visitors can indulge in a game of one America’s great sports, basketball, on one of the courts that perfectly symbolizes the idea of duality and cultural exchange within a location.

Columbus Park is a community hot spot of Chinese and East Asian heritage at the heart America’s most famous city. The connection is so deep that in 2019, a statue of the founder of the first Republic of China and a former resident of Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was installed and the north plaza of the park was renamed after him.

The park, like the rest of Chinatown, represents a place for residents and visitors alike to experience a small part of Chinese and East Asian culture, an authentic slice of a distant land and a place where homesick immigrants can enjoy the comforts and familiarity of the place where their journey, or parents' journey, began.