Neighborhood kiosk opens
Chinatown residents, schoolchildren and business owners welcomed a new visitors kiosk at the corner of Canal and Baxter Sts. in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 17. The shiny red booth, ornamented with a neon-lit pagoda top, offers tourists Chinatown maps and guides to historical sites. The visitors kiosk is open Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A giant color map of Chinatown (highlighted in lucky red, of course) and its surrounding areas hangs on the western side of the kiosk. In addition to street locations, the map also informs visitors of notable sights around the neighborhood, including Chatham Sq., East Broadway and the Church of Transfiguration. In its first few days, tourists have been stopping by the kiosk to either make use of the map or ask booth workers for assistance.
Everything is going very well. Our peak has been about 2,400 people a day, said George Lou, a booth employee.
Lou and his co-worker Kimberley Deng said that the kiosks busiest times so far were late afternoons and Saturday. Most people ask for directions, Deng said, but the two have also received some unconventional requests. There was someone looking for a lawyer, Deng said with a laugh. Some Chinese residents have also asked booth employees to help translate various documents.
Lou and Deng occasionally stepped out into the freezing cold to directly offer assistance to people stopping by the kiosk. Robbie Weissman, a tourist from Israel, asked them for a map. I want to see where I am and where I want to go, he said matter-of-factly.