It's hard to pin down Chinatown's exact boundaries, although the broad strokes of its geographic dimensions are clear enough. But while Chinatown is inarguably somewhere on the lower-lower East Side of Manhattan, running from the Bowery to Lafayette Street and Houston Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, it is also growing -- in more ways than one -- faster than just about any neighborhood in Manhattan.
Though best known for its Chinese restaurants, jewelry district and food shopping, Chinatown is also home to a bustling multicultural scene, including a host of hip nightlife spots and restaurants. And always, always, Chinatown is expanding. After having effectively devoured much of what was once Little Italy -- what remains of Little Italy is the bustling, tourist-heavy restaurant row on Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets -- Chinatown continues to develop as its own unique community.
While still unmistakably Chinese in its culture, Chinatown is now as much residential as a commercial, and home to a burgeoning crop of luxury rental apartment buildings. While many of the old tenement-style structures that once defined the neighborhoods architectural look remain, new construction luxury rental apartment buildings continue to rise on Chinatown's eastern edge. In its constant flux and 24-hour high-energy bustle, Chinatown is about as quintessentially Manhattan as New York City neighborhoods get.