• The Unknown History of New York City's Chinatown: A Story of Crime During the Years of American Prohibition

      Christensen, Kathryn (2016-04-30)
      During Prohibition immigrants were often made into scapegoats for the rise in illegal activity. The increase in crime was blamed on the rising immigrant population creating an intense fear of immigrants coming into the United States. Popular interpretations have looked at this through the lens of European immigrants coming to the United States. Groups such as the Italian Mafia, and Irish gangs in New York City are a well-rehearsed story within the history of Prohibition. However, Europeans were not the only immigrants that began to flood into the ports of New York City, and they were not the only groups of immigrants to get entangled with the 18th amendment. Within New York City's Chinatown there were various raids revealing rice wine moonshine, secret speakeasies, and crime leading to the formation of gangs just like their European counterparts. New York City's Chinatown quickly gained the reputation of being shady and crime ridden, and going into its midst was called popularly referred to as "slumming". This paper explores the nature of Chinatown during the years of Prohibition and how Prohibition affected the Chinese immigrants. It also examines the ways in which the media of the time contributed to the rising fear of Chinese immigrants' crime, and how it contributed to the idea of the " yellow peril".