A quiet Monday on Mulberry Street in Chinatown, the block of the fire

The sidewalk and entire building is off limits… Mulberry and Bayard, the site of the 5-alarm fire where organizations were based and MOCA stored its priceless archives. (Photos by Tequila Minsky)


The hustle and bustle of daily Chinatown, let alone the excitement in the neighborhood during the period of Lunar New Year, is missing. The streets and shops are eerily quiet.

Judi Jupier, a resident in Chinatown north of Canal, has observed how people seem to be staying away and comments, “I notice the restaurants, particularly the ones that cater to a Chinese population, are empty.” Further commenting she said, “Last week all the stores were sold out of masks and everyone was wearing them. This week, not so much.” But, she agrees that there is a lot less foot traffic in the neighborhood.

The smell of fire—5 alarm— still wafts up Mulberry Street.

A shopkeeper on Mulberry, south of Canal, shook her head when a visitor wished her a happy new year. Her shop is on the block of the 5-alarm fire, where the smell of smoke and fire is still in the air.

“There is no business,” she told the visitor who was away and unaware of the fire that took place just doors down the street. In a nearby convenience store, a box of masks was perched on the check-out counter.

For sale in shops, sitting on the check-out counter, in Chinatown.

The Chamber of Commerce in Chinatown responded to an inquiry of their observations, “Because the situation is fluid, we decline to comment.”

Regarding any fears people may have about coming to Chinatown, Council Member Margaret Chin said, “It is important for us to practice smart health precautions, but it’s troubling that fears around the coronavirus have translated to open xenophobia of AAPI New Yorkers and small businesses. Lunar New Year is often the only time in the year for the entire family to come together and celebrate new beginnings, and I know that many families will continue to honor traditions throughout the month.”

Chinese New Year items go unsold. The usual hustle and bustle in Chinatown is missing.
However, Chinese New Year baked goods are still available at a Mulberry Street bakery.

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