New Chinatown ("The Rookery")
Owner City of New York Established Reincorporated 2020
Purpose Neighborhood

The neighborhood on Staten Island known as "the Rookery" was an unofficial canker sore hanging off the northeastern end of Staten Island. The Rookery had a reputation for being a haven for undesirables, and although the world has changed, it can still be a place for people to go if they want to be forgotten. After the arrival of the military police and the efforts of the city to reclaim Staten Island, the sprawling slum reflects the strides made. Though the proclivities of what is now colloquially known as the Rookery remain peppered here, the name of New Chinatown is now used by the city proper in an attempt to create normalcy and livability.

Crime remains a vast issue in New Chinatown and such places as gambling dens, small-time brothels, and rickety, salvaged settlements have shifted to avoid the focus and ire of bureaucracy and the military outpost. A heightened sense of self-preservation is the result, and clashes between enforcement and locals have risen to a noticable level. They cannot police it all, however, and many are able to function as they always have.

Lines of laundry flutter on the criss-cross primitive electrical wires strung between shelled-out buildings and businesses that are blanketed in ivy in the summer and snow in the winter. Electricity here is spottier than in the Safe Zone, even with its rolling brownouts — but it exists, and that's enough for most.

The open air market aspires to be the famous Red Hook building inside the Safe Zone but does not quite measure up; trash piles up in the mouths of alleys and in basement stairwells, typically cleared by neighbors and the gainfully employed when the smell becomes too much. Vendors pack the streets beginning at dawn and do not close up shop until a few hours before sunrise the next day, leaving only a few precious hours for sleep, just to accommodate the crush of people seeking out a good deal, or their next meal.

Fresh fish on ice and floating in salty brine are always on offer, as well as the fruits and vegetables turned away from Red Hook on account of being on the verge of spoiling. Others advertise cuts of cured meat hanging from hooks to be bundled in stiff brown paper or an unmarked bag. Some make a living by reselling stolen or counterfeit goods, whether electronics, shoes, or even imitation designer handbags. There is a niche for everything and everything here, which makes it a popular destination for visitors from the Safe Zone who might not want to pay a premium price, or who demand the sort of goods that upstanding people might call unsavory.

New Chinatown ("The Rookery")


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