Thursday, July 10, 2014

New York: Fried dumplings and Five Points

Text and photo by George Molé

Many of my friends in New York law-enforcement (Manhattan's courts being rather close by) will know the storefront on the right in this photo:  FRIED DUMPLING.

It's on Mosco Street, Chinatown, New York City, USA. Behind the counter in the closet-sized restaurant, a couple of Chinese ladies crank out delicious dumplings by the hundreds, all day long, and sell them at five for a dollar. You can get them to go, or perch on stools along a narrow shelf and eat there.

The park you see at the end of the block, Columbus Park, occupies what once was the heart of the infamous Five Points slum, made famous in the movie "Gangs of New York." If you follow Mosco Street into the park, and follow the street's trajectory to the other side of the park, you will be at the formerly-five-pointed intersection that gave the area its name.

In the 1800's, Five Points was notorious throughout the nation as a place squalid and violent beyond imagination. A photojournalist named Jacob Riis wrote a book called "How the Other Half Lives," and focused so much attention on the area's conditions that the center of it was razed and replaced by the park. But on the streets surrounding the park, you can still see rows of tenements old enough to have witnessed it all.

This area is one of the very best places to get a feel for old New York. And be sure to have some dumplings while you're there.

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