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Women Worker Blues

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | September 26, 2014 | Open City

Worker-owned cooperatives gain immigrant women more than income. They give them a cure for the “tensions” that harm their physical and mental health.

How Eighth Avenue Became Chinese

By Tarry Hum | September 19, 2014 | Open City

Urbanist Tarry Hum’s new book on Sunset Park looks at the economic, cultural and land use shifts in the waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood.

The “Menace” of Mott Street

By Eveline Chao | July 25, 2014 | Open City

I traveled to the heart of the epidemic one day in July to find out for myself what kind of peril we’re in.

The Hustle: Foraging in Forest Park

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | July 16, 2014 | Open City

They tasted like a vanilla pudding—sweet and light. I’d long wondered if these berries were safe to eat, but Chin seemed to be nibbling without worry…

The Co-op Rules

By Thomas L. Mariadason | July 9, 2014 | Open City

A Queens couple tries to put down roots in their own community and discovers the unwritten discriminatory rules of real estate.

The Doctor Is In

By Susan M. Lee | June 24, 2014 | Open City

I remember the medicine wafting through the apartment–a distinct scent, a heavy, earthy, musky odor that smelled like bark, dirt and dampened roots. The minute the pot would go on, I would retreat to my room where I paced back and forth, in anticipation of a stand-off with my mother.

A Dance with Chinatown

By Eveline Chao | June 18, 2014 | Open City

There are so many people who are invisible to us, and I think that its important to realize that the girl who runs the egg-cakes cart, she has dreams too, she has a future too, she has a past as well.

Bread + Butter Socialism: A History of Finnish-American Co-ops

By Esther Wang | June 12, 2014 | Open City

Finntown in the 1920s and 30s was a bit like a leftist fantasy mixed with a touch of “Portlandia”…

Summer Nights, Part I

By Marina Budhos | June 3, 2014 | Open City

Each of us has a moment, a shiny soap bubble of memory that contains our past and predicts our future.

Seven Reasons You Should Apply for an Open City Fellowship

By AAWW | May 20, 2014 | Open City

The applications have been streaming in for our next round of Open City fellows. If you’re an emerging Asian American writer, consider applying and help spread the word about this wonderful opportunity…

“Eating Wildly”

By Ava Chin | May 12, 2014 | Open City

I often tagged along with my grandparents down the aisles of Chinese supermarkets. While Grandma stuck to purchasing standard items like Saltines or milk to add to her morning coffee, Grandpa knew the secrets of the dried, preserved goods and vegetables tucked away into the stores’ dusty corners.

Arcade Rhythms

By Eveline Chao | April 24, 2014 | Open City

Alex is a skinny teenager with shaggy black hair – almost like a Beatles cut. He comes here all the time, just to play this game.

Conversation Scene in Queens

By Susan Lee | April 21, 2014 | Open City

…Hispanics and Asians are living in neighborhoods together nearly three times as much as they did ten years ago. But how integrated they truly are is a matter of debate…

The Hustle: Wattie Kalicharan, Painter & Student

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | April 16, 2014 | Open City

When I’m on the train, I draw a lot. I have absolutely no time for meditation. But when I’m painting, that’s…my meditation.”

Budget of the People, By the People

By Esther Wang | April 4, 2014 | Open City

Council District 38, which includes the heavily Asian and Latino Sunset Park, is a testing ground to see whether an experiment in direct democracy can meet its lofty goals…

“Sitting the Month” in Queens

By Amanda Dingyuan Hou | March 18, 2014 | Open City

No showering, no going outside, no drinking cold water–for an entire month. Many women in mainland China observe these rules as part of a traditional health care practice following childbirth.

Dear MSG,

By Annie Choi | March 14, 2014 | Open City

I know that you’ve had some tough times the past few years. People have called to ban you, to oust you from the kitchen…

The Roast Duck Bureaucracy

By Eveline Chao | March 11, 2014 | Open City

About a decade ago, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) began to puzzle over a strange and disturbing sight: whole, roasted ducks, hanging by their necks in the windows of Manhattan’s Chinatown.

All That Glitters…In Sunset Park

By Esther Wang | March 7, 2014 | Open City

The gate, the window guards (all seven of them), the railings leading up to the door, the door itself — all bright stainless steel, and sparkling even on this cloudy day.

Gods and Small Tings

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | March 5, 2014 | Open City

“When times are good, people might go for the Absolut, when they’re bad it’s Smirnoff or Georgi,” says Anil, who runs 1-2-3 Liquors on Jamaica Avenue…

Sound Postcard: K-Town Celebrates “Jinshinbalpki”

By Susan M. Lee | February 15, 2014 | Open City

The drummers were dressed in black and white tunics with colorful sashes and played traditional instruments…

Sundays at the Flea

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | February 1, 2014 | Open City

It’s Sunday morning and there’s a debate underway at the Richmond Hill Flea Market in Queens. At issue: a pair of bejeweled, costume earrings made of faux diamonds and rubies.

A Tiger by the Tail, Part 1

By Thomas L. Mariadason | January 28, 2014 | Open City

In 2012, over half a million stop and frisks took place citywide. Half of these involved persons of color—young men like Nilesh, who are constantly on the lookout for patrolling officers.

Everybody Knew Him

By Eveline Chao | January 26, 2014 | Open City

“He could’ve walked into Harlem and everybody knew ‘im. He could walk into Spanish Harlem, everybody knew him. The gangsters knew him and respected him because he stood up to them…”

The Newsmaker

By Susan M. Lee | January 15, 2014 | Open City

…there was one piece of equipment that made it all possible: a SONY tape player that kept them in operation as if they were 24-hour newsroom. The machine would play ten cassettes one after the other.

A Makeover for Chinatown’s Garment Industry

By Eveline Chao | January 7, 2014 | Open City

Visitors to the address would have found an entirely different scene ten or fifteen years ago. Before it was a fashion headquarters, the building was a garment factory…

Daylight for the Basement: Chinatown Activists Reunite

By Esther Wang | December 10, 2013 | Open City

“…the union guys were really worried. They were literally pissing in their pants…15 minutes later, it seemed like 15,000 women came out of the woodwork. Literally. From the buildings in Soho. They just couldn’t believe it.”

Vigil in Queens

By Brock Stoneham | November 14, 2013 | Open City

“The typhoon really hit me hard,” she said. “I live in New York, but I’m still Filipino.”

Vota por Mí: Campaigns in Translation

By Eveline Chao | November 5, 2013 | Open City

“Once we printed Chinese upside-down and nobody knew it. That was embarrassing!”

Grocery Shopping with Erwin Santos

By Lai Wo | October 29, 2013 | Open City

“You really can’t get weird on a dehydrated noodle. You really can’t get weird on a canned sardine. Snacks, yeah you can get a little weird.”

A “Family” Mission

By Rachel Bryson-Brockman and Elly W. Yu | October 17, 2013 | Open City

“We are not known to the mainstream disabled communities. We’ve been here for 20 years.”

Young, Political, Hungry: Carlos Menchaca Dishes

By Esther Wang | October 15, 2013 | Open City

“Manhattan gets everything. No more, no more…Our next mayor is going to be from Brooklyn no matter who wins.”

Uncracking Balut

By Tinamarie Vella | October 10, 2013 | Open City

“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.”
–MFK Fisher, “How to Cook a Wolf”

Om in Translation: An Interview with Artist Kunsang Gyatso

By Tanwi Nandini Islam | October 8, 2013 | Open City

As pure Tibetans, they seem to have a more direct connection to whatever their cause is…But in my case, I would be there thinking, I don’t have the genuine drive in a way. I was supporting the cause, but at the same time, I saw myself differently.

Reporter’s Notebook: Flushing

By Sukjong Hong | October 4, 2013 | Open City

The shorter woman said, “You have such a good insang인상!” The other pressed, “But you do go to church, don’t you?”

The Physics of Storytelling

By Rishi Nath | October 3, 2013 | Open City

As I studied my surroundings, I found things that defied explanation. For some matters, the closer I looked, the more elusive any resolution became.

Accidental Stories

By Anelise Chen | October 1, 2013 | Open City

One Saturday afternoon in Sunset Park, I was sitting on the cement rim of a drained wading pool, watching elderly Chinese couples foxtrot to staticky melodies playing from a beat-up cassette player.

“Happy Hour” for Queens Teens

By Susan M. Lee | September 26, 2013 | Open City

When working with the 12 to 19 year old set, she goes by two simple rules: 1.) Don’t disrespect them and 2.) Stand your ground.

Designer’s Choice: A Conversation with Mary Ping

By Christina Moon | September 24, 2013 | Open City

We both remembered the fashion house’s Van Gogh jacket with its exquisite hand-embroidered jewel toned flowers, but it was Mary, who, without a heartbeat, recalled the year, telling the archivist to pull from the 1988 collection.

Gifting Confucius

By Eveline Chao | September 19, 2013 | Open City

In the center of the plaza stands a bronze, 15-foot statue of the Chinese sage…In its shadow, a woman with a visor and clipboard is selling shuttle tickets to Foxwoods Casino.

Yoga (Re)Public

By Thomas Mariadason | September 18, 2013 | Open City

Suran Song turned a laundromat in Jackson Heights into a space for private reflection. Now she’s inviting her neighborhood to practice yoga in her living room.

Kiddie-Up Elmhurst!

By Jennifer Tan | August 13, 2013 | Open City

The clinking coins were saved for two reasons – to feed the neighborhood parking meters and to pay for kiddie rides outside the supermarket where my family shopped.

Faking It in K-Town

By Rachel Kim | August 7, 2013 | Open City

In the same way that K-Town serves as a rough rendition of Seoul, these plastic replicas dutifully represent their edible counterparts.

Got Moochh?

By Roohi Choudhry | July 29, 2013 | Open City

It’s like wearing a swagger on your face. If you’ve got a mustache, you’re someone to be taken seriously.

Searching for Soca Paradise: An Afternoon With DJ Rekha

By Rishi Nath | January 18, 2013 | Open City

The Basement Bhangra deejay revisits the neighborhood of a legendary Hollis nightclub that flourished in the 90s.

Lakshmi’s Night: A Muslim Woman Honors Diwali

By Humera Afridi | November 28, 2012 | Open City

I recall the monkey god’s gaze at the Ganapati Temple and my own impulsive desire to offer him a coconut.

Magical Mystery Tour: Chinatown’s Underbelly with Novelist Ed Lin

By E. Tammy Kim | November 8, 2012 | Open City

“My strength is writing about Chinese people and dirtbags, and Chinese dirtbags.”

The Democracy of Patience: Inside a Polling Station in Queens

By Humera Afridi | November 7, 2012 | Open City

“Romney is very hostile.”

Scenes From Sandy: South Queens Recovers, Slowly

By Rishi Nath | November 3, 2012 | Open City

Dispatch from Far Rockaway and Jamaica in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Post Sandy, Day 4: Hester Street in Lower Manhattan

By Ken Chen | November 2, 2012 | Open City

Community organizers distributed supplies and canvassed buildings for two days before FEMA showed up to offer aid.

Hurricane Sandy: The Storm’s Impact on Immigrant Workers and Organizations

By Sukjong Hong | November 1, 2012 | Open City

For outer borough residents and the linguistically isolated, the future is less clear.

The Story Behind Great Taste’s ‘Five Dumplings for a Dollar’ Deal

By Anelise Chen | October 3, 2012 | Open City

This Sunset Park eatery is known for dishing up the best dumplings in New York City. So why is its owner, Mr. Chen, barely breaking even?

Art Rock City: Looking for a Boulder in Flushing Meadows

By Herb Tam | September 7, 2012 | Open City

It’s the second largest park in New York City, and it hosts the U.S. Open. But when the world isn’t watching, what lies beneath the park’s borders—and what does it say about Queens?

Photographs: The Captain Briggs Farmhouse in Queens

By Katherine Zhang | August 28, 2012 | Open City

Back in 1830, Richmond Hill was a farm.

Photographs: Paper Doll Immigrants

By Katherine Zhang | August 23, 2012 | Open City

John Clang’s “Beijing New York” is a product of some good old-fashioned cut and paste.

Flushing Dance Teacher: ‘We Have Our Priorities Wrong’

By Sukjong Hong | August 22, 2012 | Open City

A defender of traditional Korean arts refuses to give up.

Nimboo Paani: Spiced Limeade

By Humera Afridi | August 14, 2012 | Open City

A zesty cocktail of lime juice and water.

Comic Strip: “Excuse Me, Please!”

By Gary Sullivan | August 13, 2012 | Open City

A compendium of responses from video store clerks in Jackson Heights.

Red Rice Wine: Chinatown’s Artisanal Homebrew

By Anelise Chen | August 13, 2012 | Open City

The scarlet tonic is often portrayed as the city’s modern-day moonshine. The reality? It barely counts as booze.

Compromise City: A Battle Over Affordable Housing

By E. Tammy Kim | August 8, 2012 | Open City

After 45 years as a parking lot, the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area will be developed to include mixed-income housing. So why are some advocates crying foul?

Mohammad Zuhoor-ul-Haqq, Spiritual Street Vendor

By Humera Afridi | August 3, 2012 | Open City

“Surah Rahman and Surah Yasin. Very, very powerful!”

Jackson Heights Greenmarket: “So Many Accents!”

By Humera Afridi | July 23, 2012 | Open City

A stroll through the busiest—and most diverse—bazaar in Queens.

Dollar-Bin Punk

By Gary Sullivan | July 10, 2012 | Open City

It all started with Beijing rock band The Fly—a cross between the Sex Pistols and Nirvana, but, you know, in Mandarin.

‘We Are Not Illegal’

By Sukjong Hong | July 10, 2012 | Open City

Flushing DREAMers on Obama’s deferred action announcement and dropping the I-word.

Catching the Casino Bus in Flushing

By Sukjong Hong | July 10, 2012 | Open City

It’s not the destination, but the bus stop.

The Neighborhood You Know Nothing About

By Rishi Nath | June 28, 2012 | Open City

Iconic New Yorkers, from 50 Cent to Rodney Dangerfield, have intersected with Richmond Hill for decades. So why does it remain absent from Queens lore?

Everything Is a Surface

By Rishi Nath | June 28, 2012 | Open City

Exploring a hidden history of Richmond Hill with iconic New York graffiti artist Alan Ket.

Vish and Dev: Undocumented in Richmond Hill

By Rishi Nath | June 28, 2012 | Open City

“He paid twenty thousand to come here. He has to work and doesn’t go to school at all.”

Accidental Chinese Hipsters

By Alison Kuo | June 27, 2012 | Open City

So ironic, it’s not.

The Fan

By Anelise Chen | June 27, 2012 | Open City

Perhaps the air conditioner was broken. Perhaps there was no air conditioner.

Accidental Chinese Hipsters

By Alison Kuo | June 19, 2012 | Open City

So ironic, it’s not.

Charan Jit Singh, Business Card Distributor

By Humera Afridi | June 19, 2012 | Open City

“Get Cash in a Flash.”

Hitting Your Stillspot

By Humera Afridi | June 14, 2012 | Open City

The search for serenity amid urban frenzy.

What Is This Boy Thinking About?

By Wah-Ming Chang | June 12, 2012 | Open City

A photo essay.

Bachelor(ette) Society

By E. Tammy Kim | June 12, 2012 | Open City

The lone male remains the archetype of migrant labor, despite the changing facts on the ground.

Tasty Worship at Flushing Temple

By Sangamithra Iyer | June 11, 2012 | Open City

Fill your plate with South Indian vegetarian specialties, like dosai layered with chili and coriander chutney and served with a mash of seasoned potatoes.

Mr. Zhu, Cobbler

By Anelise Chen | June 10, 2012 | Open City

“There’s nobody left in Chinatown, is there?”

A Fledgling Assemblage

By Sukjong Hong | June 9, 2012 | Open City

Gathering fragments of a changing neighborhood.

Arena, Performer

By Humera Afridi | June 8, 2012 | Open City

“I’m beautiful all the time. Twenty-four hours!”

Wanna Faja?

By Katherine Zhang | June 8, 2012 | Open City

The newest fashion craze in Queens.

The Day After the Chinatown Bus Shutdown

By Anelise Chen | June 4, 2012 | Open City

“It’s warfare against Chinese companies.”

The Apartment Hunt

By Anelise Chen | June 4, 2012 | Open City

I checked out a space on Catherine and Madison, thinking that a Chinatown address would at least appease my dad.

The M15

By E. Tammy Kim | June 3, 2012 | Open City

Where New Yorkers collide. For better or for worse.