Here’s Why DOT Shouldn’t Move Forward with Hated Chinatown ‘Gateway’ Art Design [OP-ED]

Posted on: October 18th, 2019 at 5:04 am by

The winning design, Photo: DOT

A glimmer of hope came over me last month when I was informed that Department of Transportation would delay its presentation to Community Board 3 regarding the controversial Chinatown “Gateway” marker. I was cautiously optimistic that Linda Lee’s “Dragon’s Roar” design would be scrapped due to unanimous local outrage and opposition, and that the selection process could restart with actual community partner involvement.

As I sat in on one of several community roundtables hosted by the DOT to address concerns, my disappointment returned. The agency already made its decision, choosing to stick with the foolhardy “Dragon’s Roar” design. This particular meeting appeared little more than a validation session similar to the Chinatown jail outreach the mayor’s office held. Once again, the city has ignored the community and shoved their agenda down our throats.

Prior to attending the roundtable, however, I obtained renderings for 30 of the 82 RFP submissions for the project. I found several that are more appropriate for Chinatown’s Federal and New York State historical district designation. The “Dragon Phoenix” proposal by Kwong Von Glinow would be my pick as it best reflects the cultural character of this crucial crossroads.

Let’s take a look at what we’re stuck with. The “Dragon’s Roar” submission presented was misleading, trying to pass off a Thai pagoda for a Chinese Drum Tower. Images in the deck showed the pagoda with Thai dancers in the foreground. Initially I had thought the “drum tower” referred to a signal tower used in ancient China outside city walls to signal an invasion by enemies. Researching “drum tower,” I found a Wikipedia reference which contained fresh pictures of a drum performance which was uploaded in July of this year, so it’s conceivable someone has been busy laying groundwork to justify the “Dragon’s Roar” as culturally appropriate to fulfill RFP requirements. (The same slide included reference to an Italian Bell Tower.)

Regardless, at the end of the day, it’s quite clear that the city continues to use it’s ass-backwards approach to “community engagement.”

Recent Stories

Grave Marker Fund for Homeless Man Beaten to Death on the Bowery Last Year

It’s been exactly one year since the city was rocked by the fatal bludgeoning of homeless men on the Bowery while they slept. Of the five beaten by 24-year-old attacker Randy Santos, four ultimately died – Chuen Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran, and Nazario Vasquez-Villegas. In the days that followed the murders, elected officials and nonprofits held […]

Fridays Under $40: Scared with a Sandwich

In our Friday column, “Fridays Under $40,” Boogie writer Sara Graham again hits the streets to find cheap eats and affordable things to do during these weird times. In this edition, we’re staying inside for under $40. After I returned from a trip to Delaware to see my parents for the first time in almost […]

And then There’s this Apartment with a Tub in the Kitchen

The standard pre-war tenement layout included a bathtub in the kitchen. It made sense, as this was the central location of plumbing. The phenomenon began with the advent of plumbing in city tenements between 1901 and 1905. With bathhouses no longer necessary to wash up, the kitchen became central. The tub here made sense given […]

International Center of Photography to Reopen Next Week

The International Center of Photography is reopening in one week. Sidelined for more than six months (almost immediately after its debut at Essex Crossing), the 40,000 square-foot museum and school is making its galleries and gift shop accessible to the public. On tap are four exhibitions to “address this tumultuous time, marked by the effects of […]

Secondhand Bookstore Comes to Orchard Street

And today, in news out of left field… There is a secondhand bookstore coming to the Lower East Side. Down at 47 Orchard Street, the former home of Anna Sheffield’s eponymous jewelry boutique. The new store is as yet untitled, but will feature used books, vinyl records, and assorted antique. “I have a large collection […]