Celebrating the Chinese New Year in 1911

ChinatownnewyearsIn an attempt to chronicle the Chinese New Year of 1896, a decade or so before this photo at left was taken, The New York Times came up with this:

“Chinatown was ablaze last evening. The streets and sidewalks were practically given up to the white barbarians to see how Chinamen could illuminate and decorate their dwelling places on special occasions to honor members of their imperial family or their representatives.”

“Not on any Chinese New Year’s Day or other Chinese festival in this city has Chinatown been so profusely decorated with flags and buntings and lanterns of every description. Mott Street, Pell Street, and Doyers Street were full of lights and flags.”


“Pell and Doyers Streets generally look dull and lonely, and at night few respectable citizens feel any temptation to wander through these dismal and ill-lighted passages.”

“Last evening, however, a casual visitor would hardly have been able to recognize them, so full were they of light and life and decorations.”

[Photo above: Bain Collection, 1911, Library of Congress]

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2 Responses to “Celebrating the Chinese New Year in 1911”

  1. marylandis Says:

    Interesting, as all your posts are. But what I found even more fascinating was the story of Anna and Schlome Ratinoff told in the article following the one on the Chinese New Year in the Times. What a great movie this would make! I wonder if the Ratinoffs’ descendants still live in Brooklyn. Is there a fllm writer out there searching for an idea? Here it is!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, very dramatic! I’m assuming that second marriage ceremony went through and they lived happily ever after….

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