Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chin's Laundry

I don't know much about Chin's Laundry and Dry Cleaning on West 13th Street. I don't have my laundry done there (like this blogger does). I only walk by it often and, when I do, I enjoy a peek at laundry wrapped neatly in brown paper packages labeled with pastel slips in pistachio green. I love seeing these old-fashioned packages in Chinese laundries. There's just something about them.

Yesterday, when I walked by Chin's I saw a BUILDING FOR SALE sign in the window and my heart sank. I don't know what this means for Chin's, if it will vanish or remain, but I have no doubt that Chinese hand laundries are disappearing from the city.

A decade ago, most laundries in the city were Chinese owned. Wrote the New York Times, "The Chinese began dominating the laundry business in the 19th century, when hostility barred them from many other lines of work and spawned immigration laws that specifically excluded Chinese workers."

There used to be a small and shadowy Chinese hand laundry on East 9th Street (or was it 10th?). It's gone now. And Harry Chong on Waverly closed in 2005 after 60 years. Chong's painted sign remains and I pang whenever I pass it (Lost City recently featured a pic), now that those brown-paper packages tied up with strings are gone and a hipster hair salon has taken their place.

If Chin's does close when the building sells--and it seems inevitable--maybe whatever Vongerichtifying restaurant or boutique that takes its place will leave these wonderful red-and-gold, Chinese-style numbers on the door, so we can at least remember what's been lost.


Mark said...

On the same note, the small family launderette on the south side of East 13th Street right off a Second Avenue, which has been servicing the neighborhood for over 27 years is closing this weekend.

Can this have anything to do with the fact that it adjoins David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar?

Neighborhood laundries have been closing in droves lately. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm really worried.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. This gave me nostalgia for something that was barely on my radar.

Anonymous said...

So where are we supposed to get our laundry done? Perhaps inside the glass condos?

Hell, why don't the developers put restaurants, malls, grocery stores like whole foods, fitness centers, banks, and laundry all inside of their condo apartment buildings. This way, we would never have to go outside! Oh, they already did that with the Avalon...

Forgot the world outside!

laura said...

maybe laundries are not considered chic? so they are hidden in the condo buidings? little laundries are closing all over, not just manhattan. life as we know it is dissappering. & its not convenient, i dont get it. this is world wide, trust me. one big suburbia, one big skyscaper, what ever happened to just walking the corner, & dropping off the bag? or having them do pick service, not thats the ultimate convenience.