According to Helen Clark (1896), Chinatown wasn’ t exclusively Chinese even in her time, yet the environment seemed completely unique to the Chinese culture. “ Its inhabitants are not by any means confined to the Chinese, for many Italians, a few negroes, and a few Irish people share the crowded tenements with them. For the most part, the buildings are old and dilapidated, and those converted to Chinese use have been refitted with the flimsiest of wooden partitions and are void of many of the most ordinary of modern conveniences” (Clark As she discusses this area of New York, Clark illustrates how the blocks immediately surrounding that segment known as Chinatown are notoriously dangerous and corrupt by comparison.
This impression was corroborated by a former captain of the police precinct that includes Chinatown. “ John [meaning the average Chinese]minds his own business … and give us very little trouble. We make fewer arrests among the Chinese than among any other foreign nationality in proportion to their numbers. They settle most of their disputes among themselves” (Campbell 551). While Chinatown itself was quite crowded and busy and illegal activities were known to occur there, by contrast with its immediate surroundings, Chinatown emerges as a model of respectable society.
Despite the relatively sedate nature of this segment of town, as Clark hinted, Chinatown still contained its criminal element. One article, written in 1910, details the attempted robbery of a Chinese restaurant establishment in terms of absolute terror on the part of the customers, yet comprising of a simple attempt to steal money from the register near the front door. “ According to Ming, man rushed upon him at the cash register, shoved him aside and pulled out the cash drawer.
Ming shoved it back and grappled with him” (Thieves Beaten 1). No one was killed in the incident and only the suspects, the owner of the restaurant and one other employee was injured.
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