Original image
Harry How/Getty Images

North America’s 10 Oldest Chinatowns

Original image
Harry How/Getty Images

Chinese New Year has arrived. For those looking to ring in the Year of the Monkey, you don’t have to hop a plane to have an authentic experience. From New York to San Francisco, North America is full of historic and fun-filled pockets of Chinese culture. Here’s how to celebrate at 10 of the oldest.


Founded: 1848

What to do: The line out the door at Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown should tip you off that it has some of the best food in town; get there early for egg custard tarts before they run out. Around the time of the mid-autumn festival, Golden Gate is also the best place for moon cakes. Further immerse yourself in the culture at The Chinese Historical Society of America.


Founded: 1858

What to do: Victoria's Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, measures 35 inches across. Although the street is a popular tourist destination in its own right, there's much more to do than take arm-stretching selfies: The alley and surrounding streets are full of tea, clothing, and souvenir shops.


Founded: 1860s

What to do: Now, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities have been incorporated into Seattle's International District. Visit the Wing Luke Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, to learn about the Pan-Asian experience in the U.S.



Founded: 1870

What to do: The restaurant Hop Louie is housed in a bright yellow, five-level pagoda built in 1941. Head straight for the bar and order a Scorpion bowl.


Founded: 1870

What to do: Dr. Sun Yat-sen Park celebrates the Chinese leader, who spent his formative years on Oahu, and features a sculpture of him as a 13-year-old boy. Honolulu is a sister city of Zhongshan, where Dr. Sun was born.


Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

Founded: 1870s

What to do: Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which opened in 1920, is still owned by the same family and is the oldest continually-run dim sum place in the city. Go hungry.


Founded: 1870s

What to do: The Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland features plants like orchids, peonies, and bamboo; there's also a traditional Chinese-style teahouse.


Founded: 1877

What to do: This Chinatown is home to four paifang, or arches, one facing each cardinal direction. In particular, the bright red southern arch is a popular selfie site.


Robert Giroux/Getty Images

Founded: 1886

What to do: The striking Canadian Chinese Monument on Keefer Street was built to honor the many Chinese immigrants who built Canada's national railway as well as the Chinese men who fought for Canada in World War II.


Founded: 1900-1910

What to do: Head to Dragon City Mall for textiles, home goods, sweets, and other products sent straight from the mainland.

Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

Original image
Tokyo Tops List of Safest Cities in the World, New Report Says
Original image

When choosing a city to call home, some might weigh factors like affordability, potential for job growth, and even the number of bookstores and libraries. But for many aspiring urbanites, safety is a top concern. This list of the world’s safest cities from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) proves you don’t need to trade your sense of welfare for the hustle and bustle of city life—especially if you're headed to Tokyo.

As Quartz reports, the EIU assessed the overall safety of 60 major cities using categories like health safety, infrastructure safety, personal safety, and the cybersecurity of smart city technology. With an overall score in 89.80 out of 100 points, Tokyo is the 2017 Safe Cities Index's highest-ranking city for the third year in a row.

While it was rated in the top five places for cybersecurity, health security, and personal security, Tokyo's No. 12 spot in the infrastructure security category kept it from receiving an even higher score. The next two spots on the EIU list also belong to East Asian cities, with Singapore snagging second place with a score of 89.64 and Osaka coming in third with 88.67. Toronto and Melbourne round out the top five. View more from the list below.

1. Tokyo
2. Singapore
3. Osaka
4. Toronto
5. Melbourne
6. Amsterdam
7. Sydney
8. Stockholm
9. Hong Kong
10. Zurich

You may have noticed that no U.S. cities broke into the top 10. The best-rated American metropolis is San Francisco, which came in 15th place with a score of 83.55. Meanwhile, New York, which used to hold the No. 10 slot, fell to No. 21 this year. The report blames the U.S.'s poor performance in part on America's aging infrastructure, which regularly receives failing grades from reports like these due to lack of maintenance and upgrades.

Surprised by your city's rank? For an idea of how other countries view the U.S. in terms of safety, check out this list of travel warnings to foreign visitors.

[h/t Quartz]


More from mental floss studios