Skater Mark Nardelli and restaurateur Wilson Tang have seen Chinatown through various iterations in their short lifetimes, and both have their own individual legacy’s to uphold. In our last installment, Jayne interviews one of NYC’s OG skaters and the foremost preservationist of traditional Chinese cuisine to talk how Chinatown is adapting to forced change within its borders. Investigate how they’re shaping the legacy of Chinatown below.
Mark Nardelli has been skating Chinatown since 1997, and that means he’s seen some shit. “This neighborhood was kind of nuts,” Nardelli joked of his early days below Canal. Since he moved to the Lower East Side-Chinatown border almost two decades ago, secret brothels have been replaced by overpriced cafes and the LES has gone the way of high rise condos and concept stores. In the meantime, Nardelli helped found 5Boro, one of the most respected board companies out of New York, effectively cementing his legacy as one of NYC’s OG skaters. Since the '90s, skateboarding has become an integral part of white Chinatown culture, with LES Coleman skatepark and Labor skate shop as pillars of the neighborhood. But the Chinese locals have been largely unresponsive. “I remember the first time I saw a Chinese kid on a skateboard down here,” Nardelli recalled. “I wanted to hook him up so bad…I’d never seen a Chinese kid skating down here.”
Wilson Tang of NomWah Tea Parlor is jumpstarting his own legacy of a culinary variety. Tang re-opened the famous Doyers Street dim sum parlor his Uncle acquired in the 70s in an effort to preserve authentic Chinese cuisine, and in turn, traditional Chinese culture. "To be honest with you, I'm very disappointed," Tang stated plainly. "It doesn't feel as Chinatown to me anymore. I think changes are good, but Chinese people don't change as fast." Instead of watching passively from the sidelines, Tang is doing his part to keep the China in Chinatown. "Now I'm trying to meet more Chinese people my age," Tang explained, "and do something to keep the community active"