Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Lost Arcade

The Lost Arcade, a new documentary film by Kurt Vincent and Irene Chin, tells the story of the legendary Chinatown Fair.

On Mott Street since 1944, the arcade owners lost their lease in 2011 and made plans to move to Brooklyn.

New York Daily Photo

"Its very existence was an anachronism," said The Verge; "the lone hold-out of a culture that had been long since overshadowed by the meteoric rise of home consoles." The arcade managed to re-open in the same spot, but it wasn't the same. Co-owner Lonnie Sobel called it "a cross between Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheese."

"But as the neighborhood gentrified," the filmmakers write, "this haven for a diverse, unlikely community faced its strongest challenge, inspiring its biggest devotees to next-level greatness."

See The Lost Arcade at its world premier November 14 and 18 at IFC Center as part of DOC NYC. Click here for tickets.

Exclusively for Vanishing New York, the filmmakers have put together a clip featuring the history of Chinatown Fair--and the story of its famous dancing and tic tac toe-playing chickens:

The Lost Arcade (Exclusive Clip) from ArcadeMovie on Vimeo.

For more on the arcade's history and those chickens, check out:
DeNiro, Streep, Chicken
Chinatown Fair


Andrew Porter said...

Back in the 1960s, I used to go to Chinatown after meetings of an SF group let out, well after midnight. We'd patiently join the line waiting to eat at Wo-Hop, then wander through Chinatown. Many was the time I'd play tic-tac-toe with the chicken—it was, I'm sure, one of a succession of chickens, over the years—and of course I'd always lose, because in fact you're playing against the little game computer, really. But it was good, entertaining fun.

I've forwarded the link to some of the people I went to Wo-Hop with. Too many of us, sigh, are now gone on to that great arcade in the sky, if ya know what I mean...

Unknown said...

Chinatown was one of the last great authentic cultural holdouts to the onslaught of the gentrification boom. I know it always had the cheesy gift shops that one could argue were far from authentic and geared towards tourists, but it also had it's long standing businesses and institutions that remained staples in the community for so many decades!
My family visited Chinatown often when I was young and it was one of the experiences that piqued my interest in Asian cooking. I credit much of my culinary prowess to those trips. I even bought almost all my cutlery and kitchenware from the basement of Kam Man Foods when I got my first place in the early 80's. This was before it's name was changed to NEW Kam Man Foods some time in the new millennium. I'm an Italian American from Brooklyn so take this from where it comes, but I could hardly see any real change in Chinatown from the late 60's to the mid 90's, then came Giuliani and 9/11. Today it is obvious Chinatown is fast becoming Homogenized and less interesting, yet much more expensive like the rest of NYC. Is there anything left that's sacred???

Unknown said...

fond memories of THE DRAGON: when the arcade was on the west side of Mott Street (50+ years ago) i would beg my father for a quarter to see THE DRAGON - you put your money in the slot, a shutter slid up, and you peered into the basement where a mechanical dragon's head would shake, sound effects would play and red lights would flash. even as a little kid i knew it was cheesy, but i wish i could show it to my godson right now. he loves dragons.