What lies below Chinatown?
A confession. I always comment about the size and growth of Chinatown and how it is enveloping all of Little Italy. I’ve wandered throughout Chinatown, but I had never, ever just gone through Chinatown to reach the other side. It’s a weird “confession”, but I was noticing that my own ideas of Chinatown seemed to have it go all the way from Canal Street to…well, I hadn’t given it a huge amount of thought.
There is an “end” to Chinatown. As I went through Chinatown recently, I decided I’d travel until I reached the other side. I knew where it was, but just had never made that particular transition (I’d always turn around near the bottom and head back up). It ends in the government area of Manhattan, right near where the courthouses are that you’ve seen on Law & Order and every other NYC cop/lawyer show when they want to show the institutes of justice in the City.
There are two big ones, plus a plethora of standard government office buildings.
Right across the street from them is Foley Square.
The sculpture in the fountain is based on something called a Chi Wara, a type of African headdress that itself is a symbol of the antelopes of West Africa.
The writeup on the Chi Wara talks about how it symbolizes the antelopes which symbolize men and women working together to produce a good harvest. Well, I’m sure they’re also being symbolic to mean something other than successful farms in Lower Manhattan.
Forgive me. I’m having too much fun with the idea of a symbolic symbol symbolizing harmony. Is the harmony symbolic of something else?
Incidentally, Foley Square is named after one of those behind-the-scenes-politicos of yesteryear who was the mentor of Al Smith, one of Gotham’s great mayors.
So, I wanted to write about going through Chinatown and hardly said a word about Chinatown itself.