Preservation Approaches to Preserving Sites of Chinese American Heritage in New York City
Historic Preservation and Conservation
The history of Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans has long been overlooked by the main society of the U.S. Specifically, in New York City, a city with a rich history of Chinese immigration and historic preservation, there is still no locally designated landmark or district showing explicit connection with the city’s Chinese community. This does not respond to the increasing focus on cultural diversity in the field. Based on interviews and policy reviews, this research examines various groups that have played direct and indirect roles in preserving the physical fabric of Manhattan’s Chinatown. Evaluated are preservation agencies, including the New York State Historic Preservation Office and New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; non-profit organizations, including the Museum of Chinese in America, the Tenement Museum, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, and the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative; and other organizations and community groups, such as the New-York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the W.O.W Project. The analysis of current efforts shows that better preservation of Chinese American heritage sites in New York City needs not only improved work from each group but also more collaboration among all of them. The goal of this research is to get the history and culture of Chinese immigrants recognized and preserved through historic preservation. This would increase the visibility of this minority group and bring them more social justice. In this way, historic preservation is not an end itself, but a means to a larger social end.