Asian American Heritage in NYC



Barbara Rucci

Every year, the month of May is dedicated to celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in the United States of America. University students are encouraged to celebrate diversity and culture through events and various clubs and organizations on campus. The whole University celebrates what this month represents through the many events on campus, but New York City also knows how to acclaim the month.

According to the NYC Department of Education, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was established in 1990 to “celebrate and recognize the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” For almost 30 years, the month of May has been dedicated to highlighting these contributions such as the culture, art, philosophy, and religions of the Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.A.

The communities Asian Americans created after immigrating in the 1800’s are now neighborhoods that positively flow with Asian culture, art, music, and food. While there are plenty of NYC neighborhoods that are high in Asian-Pacific Islander population, two notable places to mention are Flushing, Queens and Koreatown in Midtown Manhattan. Flushing was established in 1645 and first founded by the Dutch.

“It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the Chinese community established a foothold here,” claims Brick Underground. The Taiwanese immigrants arrived to Flushing first, and many other Asian immigrants followed suit because of the “living standard and better housing quality” in Flushing compared to the Chinatown Historic District in Manhattan.

Koreatown, although much smaller than Flushing, is no exception to the history of Asian American immigrants. Located on West 32nd street between 6th and 7th avenue, Korean entrepreneurs began opening their own shops and restaurants in the 1980’s. Because the area is a single street, it was not discovered by visitors until the 1990’s, and it began to grow more popular in the 2000’s, according to an article from Am New York.  Pieces of important Korean culture such as skincare, karaoke, barbecue, and music are visibly lined up and down each building, making it accessible to all who walk through. These two locations are a great place to start if you would like to experience the culture that is celebrated this month, and all throughout the year.

There are many institutions throughout the city dedicated to preserving and educating New Yorkers on Asian American history. Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a museum and cultural center that is “dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asian and the United States in a global context”. They provide insight and present ideas on areas such as policy, business, and education in order to “create a shared future.” Located on the Upper East Side, Asia Society also has offices in cities such as Hong Kong, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, and Sydney. To learn more about what they do, you can explore their exhibitions and events on

Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month celebrations are well underway, and University students are encouraged to take advantage of all they have access to. Chinatown’s Historic District, a highly popular Asian American community in both the city and entire country, is just a few streets away from the University and deeply reflects the culture these immigrants brought with them. Throughout May, remember to honor those who possess Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders heritage.