Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

North America’s 10 Oldest Chinatowns

Harry How/Getty Images
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.

Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.

There are a lot of cats in Washington, D.C. They live in parks, backyards, side streets, and people's homes. Exactly how many there are is the question a new conservation project wants to answer. DC Cat Count, a collaboration between Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society, PetSmart Charities, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, aims to tally every cat in the city—even house pets, The New York Times reports.

Cities tend to support thriving feral cat populations, and that's a problem for animal conservationists. If a feline is born and grows up without human contact, it will never be a suitable house cat. The only options animal control officials have are to euthanize strays or trap and sterilize them, and release them back where they were found. If neither action is taken, it's the smaller animals that belong in the wild who suffer. Cats are invasive predators, and each year they kill billions of birds in the U.S. alone.

Before animal welfare experts and wildlife scientists can tackle this problem, they need to understand how big it is. Over the next three years, DC Cat Count will use various methods to track D.C.'s cats and build a feline database for the city. Sixty outdoor camera traps will capture images of passing cats, relying on infrared technology to sense them most of the time.

Citizens are being asked to help as well. An app is currently being developed that will allow users to snap photos of any cats they see, including their own pets. The team also plans to study the different ways these cats interact with their environments, like how much time pets spend indoors versus outdoors, for example. The initiative has a $1.5 million budget to spend on collecting data.

By the end of the project, the team hopes to have the tools both conservationists and animal welfare groups need to better control the local cat population.

Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance, said in a statement, “The reality is that those in the fields of welfare, ecology, conservation, and sheltering have a common long-term goal of fewer free-roaming cats on the landscape. This joint effort will provide scientific management programs to help achieve that goal, locally and nationally."

[h/t The New York Times]

New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]


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