Chinese Men Arriving to New York

After the American Revolution, with foreign trade relatively weak and public demands for Chinese products -silk, tea, and porcelain- high, America was eager to finally secure a direct trade route with China. Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Salem were among the most proactive in securing trade with China; however, by the mid-18th century, New York, with a wide range of trading strategies, became America’s major port for Chinese trade. Due to China playing a very significant role in America’s economy, in terms of economic trade, many American traders flocked to China, and vice versa. 

 

These Chinese immigrants were generally unmarried because they initially planned to return to China after a few years after making money to care for elderly parents and have their children grow up in China. Economic factors also played a role as many immigrants could not afford to bring wives over.

Arriving at NY ports, many Chinese sailors and traders (generally from HongKong/Guangdong) settled in New York around the fourth and sixth wards of Manhattan, which is generally where men of nautical occupations remain due to the wards being near to the harbor.

 

Such wards were also occupied by low, working class African American, Irish, and German immigrants and the area was publicly known as the Five Points. It is here where the Chinese men meet the Irish women and the Chirish phenomenon began.