Distinguished Destination

Seasame Street's Big Bird hanging out with locals in Manhattan's Chinatown

In 1982, Big Bird and his pal Barkley roller-skated through Chinatown in the opening sequence of Big Bird in China. A shopkeeper showed Big Bird a scroll of the Chinese phoenix, inspiring a journey to China in search of a new feathered friend, the magical creature Fenghuang.

Big Bird posing with Peter Lee (left of Big Bird) and his son Paul Lee (right of Big Bird), owners of the shop Quong Yuen Shing at 32 Mott Street, which was featured in the children’s television special Big Bird in China, and two unknown men

June 10, 1982.

Big Bird and Barkley crossing the street with children and a police officer.

June 10, 1982

Big Bird rollerskating with kids and Barkley in Chatham Square
Muhammad Ali on the back of a motorcycle shaking hands with M.B. Lee during the parade

New York City celebrated “Muhammad Ali Day” on December 9, 1974. The boxer visited various sites around town, making a stop in Chinatown before receiving the Bronze Medallion at City Hall.

Muhammad Ali with Percy Sutton (center) and M.B. Lee (left), President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association on “Muhammad Ali Day,”

December 9, 1974

Muhammad Ali with Linda J. Lee (center) and M.B. Lee (right), President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, on “Muhammad Ali Day,”

December 9, 1974

Muhammad Ali with unknown woman and M.B. Lee, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association on “Muhammad Ali Day,” December 9, 1974

His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke came to Chinatown in 1977 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Church of the Transfiguration, which had been founded in 1827 in the Five Points neighborhood before moving to 25 Mott Street in 1853.

Cardinal Cooke with Florence Wong (mother-in-law of Mae Wong, who donated the collection to MOCA), December 3, 1977

Cardinal Cooke and others from the Archdiocese of New York 

December 3, 1977

Cardinal Cooke and his emissaries walkign towards the Church of the Transfiguration
Mayor Koch holding a vegetable and looking confused while surrounded by onlookers

Mayor Ed Koch was a frequent patron of Chinatown restaurants. After a choking incident involving spareribs on Mott Street in the summer of 1981, in which he was saved by the Heimlich maneuver, the Jewish (but non-kosher) mayor reported that he had choked on a piece of watercress, so as not to alienate any observant Jewish supporters.

Mayor Ed Koch at a Chinatown fruit stand

August 5, 1981