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A Precious Resource

New York's Columbus Park doubles as a communal backyard for all of Chinatown.
November 15, 2003, 5am PST | David Gest
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Frequenters of the park can often "live in distant worlds, separated by language, age and, in some ways, cultural identity. But they share one palpable need: to keep coming back to the same small and crowded patch of green that is Chinatown's communal backyard." Youngsters come of age here; the elderly gather together with fellow immigrants to share games of Chinese chess. Every day, the park cycles through a diverse population, from toddlers on the playground, to men and women practicing tai chi, to employees from the nearby court, to older fortune-telling Chinese women, to opera singers, to schoolchildren. Everyone even knows the names of characters like "Loud Mouth Ming, who earned his nickname with superfluous and unsolicited spectator commentary. When a game turns suspenseful, though, dozens of men press around a table, hurling suggestions at the players."

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Thursday, November 13, 2003 in The New York Times
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