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.