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Guide to New Neighbors: Sunset Park's Chinese Community oral histories 1994.007

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Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 15, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series 1: Oral histories, 1993 - 1994 1993

Anonymous, 1993 June 29

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1964 to a land-owning family of the educated elite, the narrator's family fortune was reversed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. At twenty-two, she immigrated to America to attend Clarion University in Pennsylvania. After graduation she moved to New York City and found a job as a librarian in Brooklyn. She later married a Chinese man and helped her parents and sister immigrate to New York City from Toronto, Canada. At the time of the interview, the narrator felt stuck between two cultures; both of which she loved.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the narrator discusses Chinese assimilation to American culture by contrasting her own experiences with those of her younger sister and of her parents. She notes class and lifestyle differences among the different Chinese immigrants of New York City and delineates them by their home provinces, their education levels, their native language, and "old" versus "new" immigrants, while also considering "ABCs" or American-Born Chinese. She discusses ethnic tensions between Chinese American and Hispanic American neighbors in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The narrator also states that she feels she has become culturally American. Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Cultural assimilation
  • Ethnic relations
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social classes

Subject Places

  • Beijing (China)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • China |x History |x Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
  • China |x History |x Tiananmen Square Incident, 1989
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China) |x Politics and government |y 1997-
  • Queens County (N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Anonymous, 1993 July 1

Biographical / Historical

The narrator was born circa 1950 in Taishan, Mainland China. After a brief stay in Hong Kong, her family settled in Saigon, Vietnam, where she lived for thirty years. As an adult, she worked, married, and had five children. The family lived comfortably until the Vietcong conquered South Vietnam and took possession of her family's considerable financial portfolio. Forced to flee, the narrator and her children were granted refugee status in America and settled in Brooklyn. She started numerous entrepreneurial pursuits, including a real estate business. At the time of the 1993 interview, the narrator lived in Brooklyn with her husband and four adult children.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the narrator relates her life story with a backdrop of generations of her family's history. She describes Vietnam; living in Saigon, the Vietcong takeover, her family's process of fleeing, and immigrating to America as a refugee. The narrator discusses her entrepreneurial pursuits by evaluating each business that she started along with each demise. She looks at the real estate business in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn; providing general rent information and identifying the future prospects for the area and its Chinese American residents. Interview in Mandarin conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Organizations

  • mat tran dan toc giai phong mien nam viet nam

Subject Topics

  • Asian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Communism -- Vietnam
  • Festivals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Refugees
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • China
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Anonymous, 1993 July 1

Biographical / Historical

In her forties when the interview occurred in 1993, the narrator was born in Mainland China and moved with her family to Kowloon, Hong Kong when she was a young girl. The daughter of school teachers from China's educated class, she was taught in private schools, nurtured a love of painting, and studied English in college. In the 1960s, she moved with her husband to New York City, and ultimately settled in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. A mother of four, the narrator also worked outside the home; as a typist, then a bridal gown seamstress, and eventually the owner of a small art gallery.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, the narrator provides an overview of her life; both before and after immigrating to New York City from Hong Kong. She discusses her childhood and private schooling in Kowloon, her decision to move to America with her husband and her trip to New York City in the 1960s. The narrator recounts the evolution of her career; from typist, to bridal gown seamstress, to art gallery owner. She offers her thoughts on parenting and practical home economics and provides an overview of the financial situation faced by Chinese immigrants and small business owners. Interview in Mandarin conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Topics

  • Art -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Chinese Americans -- Education
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China) |x Politics and government |y 1997-
  • Kowloon (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Castaldo, Louis, 1994 May 17

Biographical / Historical

The son of an Italian father and an Italian-American mother, Louis Castaldo (nickname Lou) was thirty-nine years old in 1994. Castaldo grew up in Brooklyn. During his childhood, he lived in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn and attended public schools within the area. In the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Castaldo's father, Vinnie, bought and ran Vinnie's Pizzeria as a family business from 1970 onward. Castaldo worked alongside his father at the pizzeria from his early teen years to the time of the interview in 1994.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Lou Castaldo discusses his father's business; Vinnie's Pizzeria was established during the early 1970s in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. He recounts his father's coming to America and life before starting the business. Castaldo describes the various ethnic cultures and neighborhoods he observed while growing up in Brooklyn; including significant events, activities, hobbies, family life and traditions. Castaldo recalls a significant period of change in Sunset Park, beginning in 1979; from a European American neighborhood comprised of Germans, Greeks, Irish, Italians, and Norwegians to an Asian American neighborhood, largely of Chinese heritage. He evaluates other influences that factored into the changing neighborhood; escalating crime rates and drug use, business closures, new Chinese American ownership of businesses and housing, cultural differences and language barriers, and national politics supporting or allowing illegal aliens to enter and live in the United States. He surveys the Sunset Park community's actions to create a more global and shared sense of community—a melting pot of cultures. Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Castaldo, Louis

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Italian Americans -- Social life and customs
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bensonhurst (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chan, Guo Wa, 1993 June 29

Biographical / Historical

Born in Guangzhou, China in 1955, Guo Wa "Grace" Chan immigrated to New York City in 1981 to join her husband after he had come to America almost a decade earlier. In 1985 Chan opened Prosperity Video, the first Chinese-language movie rental store in the Chinatown area within the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, because she realized she could care for her new baby while running the shop. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chan was the busy mother of four children. While working three hundred sixty-four days a year at the shop, in the evenings she was an active parent with a particular interest in her children's progress at school. Chan looked forward to one day taking her children on vacation to Florida.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Guo Wa "Grace" Chan discusses her immigration and life in New York City. She focuses on her experiences as a businesswoman, detailing the launch of her video rental store. She mentions her husband's ventures in the restaurant industry. Chan describes the entrepreneurial competition in Brooklyn's Chinatown and real estate prices, commercial as well as residential. An educationally-focused mother, Chan evaluates the educational decisions she has made and the quality of local public and private schools. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Chan, Guo Wa

Subject Organizations

  • Chinatown Planning Council (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family-owned business enterprises -- Chinese Americans
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chan, Kwok-Wai, 1993 April 17

Biographical / Historical

Kwok-Wai "David" Chan was born in Mainland China in 1955. In 1975 Chan emigrated with his family from Hong Kong to New York City and immediately settled in Brooklyn. He was nineteen at the time. Chan received a bachelor's degree in Accounting from State University of New York Buffalo. After college, Chan eventually found his vocation as an entrepreneur. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chan was the owner of a pharmacy in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn that catered to local Chinese-American immigrants. Chan married and was a father to two daughters. In 1993, the family lived in a newly-purchased home in Staten Island.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Kwok-Wai "David" Chan relates his experience as a Chinese immigrant to New York City. He describes his reasons for emigrating, the family's arrival to Brooklyn, and hardships faced soon after. He discusses his education and the value his family places in higher education -- something he calls a Chinese value. Chan details his career as an entrepreneur; including failures, challenges, and accomplishments. Throughout the interview, Chan discusses the community changes he's watched over the last few decades. Interview conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Mak, Paul
  • Chan, Kwok-Wai

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Chinese language
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bensonhurst (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flatbush Avenue (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chen, Yan, 1993 April 23

Biographical / Historical

Yan Chen was born in 1974 in Mainland China. Her family moved to the United States in 1983 when Chen was about nine years old. They lived in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a building their grandfather owned, as well as the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. Chen went to elementary school in Chinatown for three years and then the family moved back to Sunset Park. Her parents worked in Chinatown. Chen attended Robert F. Wagner Middle School and Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan. When she was a teenager, her father got a job at Bay Ridge Restaurant, in Sunset Park, and her mother worked in a factory in Brooklyn. Chen also worked for a brief time sewing clothes in a factory. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chen was a young adult exploring her world of work and life.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Yan Chen talks about her life in Mainland China where she was born and grew up; the family home, farm, her family, extended family, and many farm animals. Chen recalls how, at age ten, she and her family came to the United States through the help of extended family. She remembers that her parents were hoping to make a lot of money in America without having to work too hard. The interview mainly consists of Chen discussing her relationship to the two areas where she lived—the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan and the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn—and her sense of place within them. She describes her family experiences, her education and friendships, demographic shifts within the neighborhoods, problems with bullying, crime and gangs, Chinese home ownership, and the establishment of Chinese businesses; all factors which helped to stabilize the Chinese community and allowed her family to prosper. Interview conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Chen, Yan

Subject Topics

  • Chinese American families -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Chinese Americans -- Employment
  • Ethnic relations
  • Illegal aliens -- United States
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -y 20th century

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chin, Huan Reng, 1993 April 16 and 28

Biographical / Historical

Huan Reng "Benson" Chin was born in 1922 to a merchant-class Chinese family in Bangkok, Thailand. When the Sino-Japanese war broke out, Chin—aged fourteen—became a spy for the Japanese Resistance Committee of Overseas Chinese. Chin experienced World War II, the Cultural Revolution, and the Chinese Communist Party as a spy and revolutionary. In 1984, aged sixty-two, Chin immigrated to New York City; where he took work as a dishwasher in Manhattan's Chinatown. He later moved to Brooklyn's Chinatown in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chin looked forward to retirement.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Huan Reng "Benson" Chin discusses his involvement in the Sino-Japanese war; conducting espionage for the Chinese Communist Party. He recalls his military education in Marxism/Leninism and fighting in World War II. Chin speaks of the Chinese Cultural Revolution; including detention in labor camps, mass starvation, and numerous civilian suicides. Chin evaluates life after his 1984 immigration to New York City; Chinatowns of the boroughs, Sunset Park street crime, and looking forward to retirement. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Chin, Huan Reng

Subject Organizations

  • Zhongguo gong chan dang

Subject Topics

  • Bangkok (Thailand)
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community information services -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941
  • Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • China |x History |x Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chow, Wong Lai, 1993 December 1

Biographical / Historical

Wong Lai Chow was born in 1920 in Guangzhou of mainland China. Although her parents moved to America when Chow was a very young girl, Chow remained in China. As an adult, she married, had three children, joined the National People's Party (KMT) and received a degree in education from Zhong Shan University. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Chow's mother attempted to rescue her from China; for this, Chow suffered years of public humiliation and three years of hard labor. After her mother successfully sponsored her visa application in 1980, Chow brought her family to America. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chow was an active retiree in a senior hospital apartment in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Wong Lai Chow describes her life's history; which spans the Japanese invasion of China, World War II, the Korean War, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and her immigration to America in 1980. She recalls her career as an educator during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, being charged with "illicit relations with a foreign country," and re-education at a hard labor camp. Chow also speaks from her perspective of an active retiree in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. She discusses neighborhood crime, the Chinese mafia, and unlicensed dentists of Sunset Park. Chow also observes the challenges faced by her children, who came to America without command of English or many marketable skills. Interview conducted in Cantonese by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Chow, Wong Lai
  • Mak, Paul

Subject Organizations

  • Zhongguo guo min dang

Subject Topics

  • Refugees
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Labor camps -- China
  • Old age homes -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Quacks and quackery -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • China |x History |x Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
  • China |x Politics and government |y 1949-1976
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Chow, Yui Man, 1993 April 16

Biographical / Historical

Yui Man "Michael" Chow immigrated to New York City with his family in March of 1991 at age twelve. Chow is the youngest of three children. At the time of the 1993 interview, Chow had been in Brooklyn for just two years. Still, his experiences had made him confident of his future in New York City, and he did not wish to return to China.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Michael Chow describes his journey to America, taken when he was age twelve. He discusses his experiences of adversity; homesickness, missing family members, learning English, assimilating to American culture and the American education system, traveling and sightseeing, playing ball games, and receiving an American name. As he makes friends, Chow says he enjoys America, and favors it over China. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Chow, Yui Man

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural assimilation
  • Education -- New York (State)
  • English as a second language
  • Factories -- New York (State) -- New York
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangdong Sheng (China)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Queens County (N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Flodsand, June, 1994 May 9

Biographical / Historical

June Flodsand was born circa 1942 in New York City to Norwegian immigrant parents. Raised in a working-class family, she lived on 58th Street in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn beginning in 1958. She is the eldest of six children. Flodsand's life has been spent in an equal ratio of hard work, innocent socializing at neighborhood soda shops and ice cream parlors, and activities at the Lutheran Church. After graduating high school Flodsand married. She has spent her life as an observant Lutheran and proud Norwegian American. Remaining a Sunset Park resident, she called 59th Street home at the time of the 1994 interview.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, June Flodsand recounts her life as a working-class, first-generation American, a devout Lutheran of Norwegian parentage. She remembers an innocent childhood of family chores, a first job as a soda jerk, and weekly participation in church and its activities. As an adult, Flodsand married a fellow Lutheran and continued a life devoted to work, church, Norwegian-themed festivities, and socializing. Flodsand laments the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park's transition from a dominant Scandinavian culture to a largely Chinese and Hasidic population. She was interviewed at the Lutheran Church where she is a member. Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Flodsand, June

Subject Organizations

  • 59th Street Lutheran Brethren Church

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Clubs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Lutheran Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Norwegians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Scandinavian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Working class -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Giordano, Tony, 1993 June 29

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1948, Tony Giordano spent his pre-adolescent years in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. He grew up surrounded by a family of Italian heritage with three siblings as well as Italian American and Irish American friends and neighbors. In 1961, the family moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a strong Puerto Rican heritage and an influx of Irish and Italian Americans. Giordano attended Brooklyn Technical High School and Staten Island Community College. After a brief foray into engineering work with the New York City Transit Authority, he became a teacher. His civic-minded upbringing led to a role as a neighborhood leader in Sunset Park.

Scope and Contents

By outlining the experiences of the two prior generations, Tony Giordano explains in the interview how his family of Italian heritage came to be in Brooklyn. He focuses in on his father's occupations; ultimately one as a bus driver. Giordano describes his upbringing in terms of his family's apartment housing, Brooklyn neighborhoods, vacations on Long Island, education from first grade through college, and his Roman Catholic religious experience. The interview is in depth on his experience of losing faith in organized religion and later discovering a devotion to God. Contributing to this struggle with religion, Giordano talks about a failed first marriage, custody challenges over his son, a rekindled relationship, and a happy, interfaith marriage and family. He focuses on the ethnic heritage and late twentieth century makeup of the Sunset Park community and his role as a civic leader. The influx of large numbers of Chinese into Sunset Park in the late 1980s has created what Giordano calls the "Third Chinatown." Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Giordano, Tony

Subject Topics

  • Apartment houses -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Civic leaders -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Interracial marriage
  • Italian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Religious education of children -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Religious life and customs
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Hoen, Yee, 1993 August 17

Biographical / Historical

Yee "Curie" Hoen immigrated to New York City from Hong Kong as a young adult and moved to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in the late 1980s. A single woman in her forties, Hoen's life revolved around her career in radio broadcasting at the Chung Wah Commercial Broadcasting Company. When not working, she spent time singing karaoke and Cantonese opera with the Man Chi Opera Society, and attending Sunset Park's traditional Chinese festivals.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Yee "Curie" Hoen describes her life as a single, female Chinese immigrant living alone in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Hoen recounts the process of getting a job as a disk jockey at a Chinese radio station and her promotion to supervisor of the Programming Department. She discusses neighborhood ethnic relations and crime (including being mugged). Hoen tells of her leisure activities; singing karaoke and opera, attending Sunset Park's traditional Chinese festivals, and watching soap operas. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Hoen, Yee
  • Mak, Paul

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Chinese American Association

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Festivals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Local transit -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Opera -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Radio -- United States -y 20th century

Subject Places

  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Huang, Way Ling, 1993 April 16

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Huang, Way Ling

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Ka, Mak Shui, 1993 November 13

Biographical / Historical

Mak Shui Ka was born in Naahn Sehk Village, in China's Guangdong Province, to a wealthy, prominent family. She grew up with servants and attended the country's most prestigious schools. Her family's fortunes reversed during the opium suppression effort, which drove the family business into the ground, and the Communist "liberation," which repossessed her family's estate and brought persecution to her father. Ka relocated to America and eventually settled with her husband and three children in New York City. In Brooklyn, Ka took on odd jobs and experienced poverty for the first time. She persevered and joined the Seamstresses' Union, the Coalition of Women, and became a community organizer; championing the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn's Chinese community and pursuing anti-discrimination activity. At the time of the 1993 interview, Ka lived happily in Sunset Park with her husband; her three adult children lived nearby.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Mak Shui Ka discusses her life's history in Communist China; upbringing, schools, her family, and persecution, as well as her successes as a conscripted cadet. Mrs. Ka describes her life in America, which brought her first experiences with poverty and grave anti-Chinese discrimination. She describes anti-Chinese treatment by Italian members of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. In response, Ka helped organize a community protest event and delivered a speech that vowed constant vigilance. She details extensively another incident of discrimination in which police stormed an apartment in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan, then beat the family inside; including a pregnant woman. Ka was called as a community first responder; taking photographs and witness testimony, and helped prosecute the police members. In relation to Sunset Park, Ka also references her real estate transactions, the rent prices and taxes, and neighborhood crime. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Ka, Mak Shui
  • Koch, Ed
  • Mak, Paul

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police brutality -- United States
  • Police-community relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Racism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real property -x Valuation -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • China |x History |x Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangdong Sheng (China)
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Kang, Harrison, 1993 April 15

Biographical / Historical

Harrison Kang and his family immigrated to America from South Korea in 1980, approximately twelve years prior to this 1993 interview. Kang attended high school and college in New York City; and after a brief stint at a job on Long Island, he returned to Brooklyn to work in his parents' dry cleaning shop. At the time of interview, Harrison Kang was thirty-one years old.

Scope and Contents

This brief interview was conducted at the Kang family's dry cleaning shop, located at 5214 Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn. In the interview, Harrison Kang mentions his family's emigration from South Korea to New York City. He describes different aspects of the evolution of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park; from relative quietude to a bustling area of immigrants and small business. Kang discusses the neighborhood's change from a mix of Norwegian and Hispanic residents to a primarily Chinese population. By the time of the 1993 interview, Sunset Park was considered Brooklyn's Chinatown. Kang provides an overview of the different ethnic groups endemic to different area streets. Interview conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kang, Harrison

Subject Topics

  • Asian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Demographic surveys
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Lee, Fai Ling, 1993 November 17

Biographical / Historical

Fai Ling "Alice" Lee was born in Mainland China circa the 1950s, moved to Hong Kong aged three, and immigrated to New York City at fifteen. Her family initially lived in the Bronx before settling in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. She attended Hunter College and worked in the New York City municipal finance department before taking time off to have children and raise a family. During her seven-year maternity leave, Lee nurtured her interest in real estate and began part-time work at a real estate agency. At the time of the interview, Lee worked in bilingual education at P.S. 314 in Sunset Park.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Fai Ling "Alice" Lee discusses the development of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn; from a sleepy, dilapidated, majority-Norwegian area in the 1970s to a thriving Chinese diaspora in the 1980s and 1990s. She describes the economic and working conditions faced by her father, who worked in a Times Square Chinese restaurant, and her mother, a seamstress in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. The interview focuses on real estate investing in Sunset Park; home prices, mortgages, rental income, and risks. Lee also mentions her position as a bilingual educator at P.S. 314 in Sunset Park. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lee, Fai Ling

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Norwegians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Real estate business -- New York (State) -- Queens County
  • Working class -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Lee, Johnny, 1993 September 2

Biographical / Historical

"Johnny Lee" was born circa 1961 in Hong Kong, China, the youngest of five siblings. He immigrated to New York City as a teenager, and finished high school at Seward Park High School in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. The son of a working-class family, Lee sewed buttons in a Chinatown garment factory during high school, and washed dishes at a Chinatown restaurant as a young man. He attended City College for one year before leaving to pursue stable government work at an Off-Track Betting branch. At the time of the interview, Lee was in his forties and lived with his wife and three children in the three-family home that his parents purchased and converted into a five-family house.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, using a pseudonym, "Johnny Lee" recounts his life history. He recollects being raised in Hong Kong by his mother while his father worked in America. He remembers his time at Chinatown's Seward Park High School's bilingual program, classmates who dropped out to join Chinese gangs, after-school work as a button-sewer in garment factories, college work as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant, and the decision to leave City College to pursue full-time work at an Off-Track Betting location. Lee discusses the boom in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan's garment factories, the increase in competition, and resultant deflation in real wages and living standards. He talks about working-class income, real estate prices, his family's decision to purchase a home, and the rejuvenation of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn and its Eighth Avenue small businesses. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Child labor -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Factories -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Working class -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Leung, Yee Ming, 1993 September 8

Biographical / Historical

Yee Ming Leung was born in Hong Kong, China circa 1958, immigrated to America at age eleven, and settled in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. Leung attended public schools during school integration; the experience shaped his views of the American melting pot. After attending the University of the Pacific, Leung spent ten years in California as a teacher and owner of an import-export business. He returned to New York City to help his sister's growing restaurant business. Leung became a restaurateur himself with the opening of Oriental Palace in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time of the interview in 1993, Leung sat on Community Board 4 and had recently lost his first campaign for a seat on the school board of District 20.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Yee Ming Leung describes his teenage assimilation to American culture; a childhood of "Chinese" activities such as catching crabs on Coney Island or stealing nuts from neighbors' trees, as well as playing baseball and watching football or movies with his new American friends. Leung recalls his life as a businessman and, later, a restaurateur. He discusses his campaign and motivations for running for a seat on the School Board, Chinese attitudes towards voting, and his activities as an activist and member of Community Board 4. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Leung, Yee Ming

Subject Organizations

  • Community Board No. 4 (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Cultural assimilation
  • Elections -x Corrupt practices -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School districts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • School integration -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • California
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Li, Miu Fei, 1993 December 19

Biographical / Historical

Miu Fei Li was born in Mainland China in 1959. In 1981 she followed her husband to New York City and settled in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. She became a professional seamstress, joined the local seamstress' union, and had two children. After finding work out-of-state, Li's husband became addicted to gambling; after racking up tens of thousands of dollars of debt, they divorced. In 1993, Li married a fellow divorcee whom she met while on vacation in Hong Kong. At the time of the interview that same year, Miu Fei Li was living with her new husband and their combined four children in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Miu Fei Li discusses life since her 1981 immigration to New York City. She tells of the decision to immigrate to America as a twenty-two year-old newlywed; initial impressions of Manhattan; and attempts to learn English. She describes life and working conditions experienced as a garment factory seamstress and the benefits of being a union member. She talks about her work schedule; which played roles in fostering her husband's gambling addiction and their subsequent divorce. Li speaks of her second marriage. She also evaluates real estate conditions in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn circa 1993. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Li, Miu Fei

Subject Organizations

  • International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Divorce
  • Factories -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Home economics -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Working class -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangdong Sheng (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Li, Ning-Yuan and Anonymous, 1993 July 2

Biographical / Historical

Ning-Yuan Li was born in 1936 in Nanjing, China to an educated family, and as a teenager became an award-winning fine arts painter. At the time of the interview, he had been in America for four years and had a school-aged daughter. J.L. (Anonymous) was born in Burma, but soon moved to Taiwan. During the "Anti-Japan War," J.L. was orphaned and subsequently joined the fight against the Japanese invasion. Later, he moved to Paraguay and Brazil, where he started a small wrist-watch business. He immigrated to America in 1984. At the time of the interview, he had a daughter in kindergarten. J.T. (Anonymous) also provides narration. Her own full-length oral history (1994.007.03) is available as part of this collection.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, J.L. (Anonymous) and Ning-Yuan Li provide viewpoints on their different lives that led them to America. Li, fine art painter, describes his early education and sensibilities as an artist and recalls the Chinese Cultural Revolution's impact on fine art in China. J.L., from Taiwan, relates his life story; the era of the "Anti-Japan War," his career as a soldier, and time spent in Paraguay running a small wrist-watch business. Joined by J.T. (Anonymous, also a narrator of her own oral history), J.L. and Li discuss their shared experience as residents of Brooklyn's Chinatown; working conditions for Chinese immigrants, language barriers, armed robberies, and the American systems of education and juvenile corrections. Interview in Mandarin conducted by Gregory Ruf.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Li, Ning-Yuan
  • Mao, Zedong

Subject Topics

  • Anti-Japanese War, 1937-1945
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Communism -- China
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education
  • Immigrants
  • Law enforcement -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Political corruption -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public welfare -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Taiwanese Americans
  • Work environment -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Burma
  • Central America
  • China
  • China |x History |x Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • South America
  • Taiwan (China)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Mak, Paul, 1993 March 26

Biographical / Historical

Paul Mak was born in Hong Kong, China, and immigrated to New York City at around age sixteen. Priced out of the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan, his family settled into Brooklyn. After completing high school in Brooklyn, Mak graduated from Hunter College with a degree in computer hardware programming. Unable to quickly find a job in programming, Mak entered into a career of civil service. In 1988 Mak helped found the Brooklyn Chinese American Association, an influential Eighth Avenue-based business services organization. At the time of the 1993 interview, Mak was the only Asian community board member in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Paul Mak discusses his personal assimilation into mainstream American culture. He details his career as a civil servant serving the Chinese community of Eighth Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park; helping educate new immigrants assimilate by teaching them American customs, smoothing out relationships with neighboring ethnic groups (particularly the Latino community), and working to develop Brooklyn's Chinatown by facilitating the migration of garment factories from Manhattan to Brooklyn. He also describes his time as a community board member. Interview conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Mak, Paul

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Chinese American Association

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Civil service -- New York (State)
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Cultural assimilation
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Factories -- New York (State)
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race discrimination -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bensonhurst (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sheepshead Bay (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Ngu, Thien Thuy, 1993 September 7

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Ngu, Thien Thuy

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Quinones, Edmundo, 1994 June 10

Biographical / Historical

Edmundo Quinones was born circa 1946 in Manhattan to Puerto Rican immigrant parents, and grew up in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. As Latinos, the Quinones were discriminated against -- still, he remembers a childhood of mixed play in his working-class neighborhood with stick-ball and water balloons. At age fourteen Quinones moved to Puerto Rico. When he re-settled in New York City he found the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn to be inhabited primarily by Latinos. He married a Puerto Rican woman and had two sons. Around 1985, Quinones stumbled upon Brooklyn's Chinatown and was amazed to find the Chinese American community so quickly well-established.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Edmundo Quinones discusses his life as a first-generation working-class Puerto Rican American. He reflects on the challenges he's faced as a Latino growing up in a White neighborhood; particularly discrimination, and strengthening his Latino identity while avoiding mainstream assimilation. He provides an overarching view on the American dream: class mobility (both upward and downward), ethnic relations, and neighborhood change. He describes the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge's transformation from a predominantly poor Scandinavian enclave, to a Latino area called Sunset Park, to a bustling, predominantly Chinese American community. Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf and Fabiana Chiu.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Quinones, Edmundo

Subject Topics

  • American Dream
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Discrimination in housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Scandinavian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social classes

Subject Places

  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • San Juan (P.R)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Ung, Po Yee, 1993 August 17

Biographical / Historical

Po Yee Ung, born in Hong Kong circa 1957, immigrated to New York City at age twenty-five to accept a job offer. She settled in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn. As a young career woman in Tai Po, China, Ung worked in both the garment and electronics industries. In New York City, she worked primarily as a journalist; writing for Chinese-language print newspapers and weeklies, reporting and interviewing for Chinese-language Apple Television, and writing a column for a Chinese-language entertainment weekly. At the time of the 1993 interview, Ung was thirty-six years old, lived alone in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and earned a living as an insurance saleswoman.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Po Yee Ung discusses her external world. She recounts her professional life: a Hong Kong career in business, and a New York City career in journalism. Ung evaluates Eighth Avenue's potential as a business and cultural center for Chinese immigrants in Brooklyn, and its deficiencies as a community resource. Ung recounts instances of petty neighborhood crime. She describes the neighborhood's aesthetic and real estate conditions. She talks about her affinity for Spanish-speaking sections of the neighborhood; particularly Hispanic food, customs, and people. Throughout the interview, Ung declines to answer questions that she views as too personal, or which may indicate her general whereabouts. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Ka-Kam Chui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Leung, Yee Ming
  • Ung, Po Yee

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Home economics -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Journalists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brighton Beach (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Wong, Chun Wai, 1993 May 26 and 28

Biographical / Historical

Chun Wai "Billy" Wong was born in Hong Kong, China in 1964. He came to the United States with his family in 1984 and they settled in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. His grandparents had come to America years earlier and they helped the family immigrate. Wong's mother worked in factories in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan and his father worked in a restaurant in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. Wong worked as a youth Counselor and trip coordinator for youth in an afterschool program at a public middle school. He also studied computer science at Brooklyn College and then transferred to City College. He worked as a computer programmer for one year after he graduated. While working part-time as a youth counselor and studying at Hunter College, Wong began to teach dancing in the after school program at P.S. 220.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Chun Wai "Billy" Wong discusses his arrival to America and living in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn as compared to his birthplace of Hong Kong, China. He cites reasons why he likes living in New York. Wong describes the culture and lifestyle of the working Chinese community; the differences between Mainland Chinese people and Chinese people from Hong Kong, the means in which the Chinese travel back and forth from the neighborhoods, shopping at food stores, and banking. Wong evaluates the economic changes in the two communities; new garment factories in Brooklyn, unionization, and health insurance in the factories in New York. Wong speaks about his job as a public school youth counselor; the characteristics of different groups of Chinese youth and problems with gang activity. He recalls his education as a computer programmer in the City University of New York's colleges and work after graduation. He recounts his shift to study dance at Hunter College while working as a youth counselor. Wong talks about Chinese-American family life; including home ownership and celebrating various American holidays within their community. He also sees changes in Sunset Park as it becomes more populated. Interview conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Wong, Chun Wai

Subject Topics

  • Chinese American families -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Chinese Americans -- Employment
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Illegal aliens -- United States
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Wong, Fook, Reverend, 1993 April 15

Biographical / Historical

Called by a relative to bring the word of Jesus Christ to Brooklyn's Chinese community, Reverend Fook "Samuel" Wong, at age forty-two, immigrated with his wife to New York City from Hong Kong in 1982. In 1983, they established the Chinese Promise Baptist Church in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Through the church, Wong and his wife founded an annual Memorial Day Weekend street festival, which they hoped would increase neighborhood vitality and pride, while reducing street crime. At the time of the 1993 interview, Wong's daily activities were spent in community service; preaching, providing charity, organizing the annual street festival, and tending to the needs of his fifty parishioners.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Reverend Fook "Samuel" Wong discusses his life as an evangelical Baptist preacher in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. He talks about the innermost lives of the immigrant Chinese community he works with daily, detailing their "stages of immigration," as they assimilate to American culture. He details the domestic and financial challenges faced by overworked immigrants. Wong speaks on other issues, including corrupted youth, Chinese gang-related activities, the diversity of Brooklyn's Chinatown, and ethnic tensions between the area's Hispanic and Chinese residents. He also describes the Fuzhou people of China. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Wong, Fook, Reverend

Subject Organizations

  • Chinese Promise Baptist Church (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • American Dream
  • Baptist associations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Baptists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Evangelistic work -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism

Subject Places

  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • China
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Wong, Guillermo and Wong, Norma, 1994 June 10

Biographical / Historical

Married couple Guillermo and Norma Wong immigrated to Brooklyn, New York from Lima, Peru in 1980 to escape political, social, and economic unrest there. Because Guillermo Wong (who was half-Chinese) and Norma Wong both greatly appreciated Chinese culture, the Wong family felt at ease on their mixed Latino-Chinese street in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the time of the 1994 interview, the Wongs had been married twenty-four years, had three sons, and felt assimilated into American culture. They had recently begun a network marketing business which they hoped would offer financial freedom and the opportunity to buy a home.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Guillermo and Norma Wong discuss their unique situation as a Chinese-Peruvian family living in a Chinese-Latino section of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn; facing anti-Chinese slurs made by Latino residents, for example. They describe the ethnic makeup of their neighborhood, the politics of ethnic identity, racism, and discrimination. The Wongs recall the challenges of making it in America; finding housing, learning English, finding a job, and understanding American culture. Interview conducted by Gregory Ruf and Fabiana Chiu.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Wong, Guillermo
  • Wong, Norma

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Discrimination in housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants
  • Multiculturalism
  • Peruvian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Racism -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Astoria (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Peru
  • Queens County (N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Zhu, Yu Rong, 1993 April 23

Biographical / Historical

Yu Rong Zhu, born in 1927 in Taishan, China, lived through the Japanese Invasion of China, the Chinese Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution. Zhu's status as a civil engineer protected him from governmental persecution, and he was satisfied with life. But his children, who lost educational and professional opportunities to the Cultural Revolution, urged him to immigrate to America. With his wife, Zhu moved to San Francisco in 1988; his children soon followed. At the time of the interview, Zhu was sixty-six years old and lived in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn with his wife and eldest daughter.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Yu Rong Zhu discusses his first sixty years of life, in which he witnessed the Japanese Invasion, the Chinese Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution. He reflects on the decision to move to America, his first two years in San Francisco, and his subsequent move to Brooklyn's Chinatown (or the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn). Zhu compares the lifestyle, living conditions, and apartment rental situation in the Chinatown communities of Brooklyn and Manhattan. He considers neighborhood crime, inter-ethnic relations, and the difficulties of life as a Chinese immigrant. Interview in Cantonese conducted by Mary Lui.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Zhu, Yu Rong

Subject Topics

  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Communism -- China
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • China
  • China |x History |y 20th century
  • Chinatown (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Chinatown (New York, N.Y.)
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • San Francisco (Calif.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

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