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Chinatown Fair
Chinatown Fair storefront
Years active 1944 - February, 2011
Number of games 40-50
Located

8 Mott Street

Chinatown, New York City, NY, U. S. A.

Status Closed

BackgroundEdit

Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center is a video arcade center located at 8 Mott Street in Chinatown, Manhattan. Historically, the arcade catered toward competitive fighting games. The original arcade opened in 1944 and closed in February 2011, but reopened in May 2012 under different management. Chinatown Fair has been widely regarded as New York City's "last great arcade".[1][2][3]

HistoryEdit

Chinatown Fair opened in 1944, taking over the first floor of the popular Port Arthur Chinese Restaurant building; previously, the first floor had been occupied by Soy Kee & Co., exporters, as well as the Eastern Trading Company.[4][5] Chinatown Fair operated as a penny arcade and small museum for many years before becoming a video game arcade in the 1970s.[6] Immigrant Sam Palmer purchased the business in 1982 after having a "religious vision".[7]

One of its first attractions was a dancing chicken. The dancing chicken was later replaced with a tic-tac-toe playing chicken, which was retired in the early 2000s[8]. In the 1970s and 1980s, the arcade hosted many retro generation games including Pac-Man and Space Invaders. In 1991, after the release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Chinatown Fair switched focus to competitive fighting games. By the late 1990s Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, The King of Fighters, Soulcalibur, Tekken and other fighting games were commonly played. Top players such as Justin Wong, NYChrisG, Michael "Yipes" Mendoza, and Sanford Kelly frequented the establishment.[9]

As of 2010, The New York Times wrote that Chinatown Fair was among the last video arcades in the city. Video arcades have been in decline with the rise of home video games. The newspaper reported that it became "a center for all the outcasts in the city to bond over their shared love" of classic arcade and fighting video games no longer popular in modern arcades, with titles including the original Street Fighter 2, King of Fighters and Ms. Pac-Man. Other groups congregated around Dance Dance Revolution machines and racing games. Unlike the norm at other arcades, where winning players continue until deposed, Chinatown Fair players played a maximum of three or four continuous games.[9]

In February 2011, Chinatown Fair closed down. On May 5, 2012, over a year later, it reopened under a new name of Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center with new manager and part owner Lonnie Sobel.[7] Former competitive players criticized the new arcade for catering toward casual players, with the new ownership explaining that they were targeting a new clientele.[10] Competitive fighting game players relocated to Next Level, a Brooklyn arcade, which opened in 2011.[11]

Known gamesEdit

The games ran on quarters.

  • Arcana Heart
  • Arctic Thunder
  • BlazBlue
  • Buster Brothers
  • Capcom Vs. SNK 2 (Millionaire Fighting 2001 or Mark Of The Millennium 2001)
  • Centipede
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA
  • Galaga
  • In the Groove 2
  • Jr. Pac-Man
  • King of Fighters 2002
  • Marvel vs. Capcom
  • Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 New Age Of Heroes
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Neo Geo MVS 2-3
  • Pac-Man
  • Pang
  • Samurai Shodown V
  • Soulcalibur
  • Space Invaders
  • Street Fighter
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3
  • Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
  • Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Street Fighter III: Second Impact
  • Street Fighter III: Third Strike
  • Super GT 24
  • Super Puzzle Fighter
  • Tekken
  • Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection
  • Tekken Tag Tournament
  • The King of Fighters
  • The Rumble Fish
  • Time Crisis 4
  • Vampire Savyor
  • Viper?
  • X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  • Racing games

(others/miscellaneous)Edit

  • Photo booth
  • Prize/redemption machine(s?)
  • Punching bag game
  • Soft drink machine

EmployeesEdit

  • Sam Palmer (owner)
  • Henry Cen (manager)
  • Akuma Hokura

TriviaEdit

  • In the 1984 movie Falling In Love, one scene was filmed at the arcade. Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep could be seen with the Tic Tac Toe Chicken, along with taking photos in the photo booth.
  • The arcade is the focus of the 2015 documentary The Lost Arcade, which was released in New York City on August 12, 2016.[12]
  • Former employee Henry Cen would later open his own arcade called Next Level.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Kopfstein, Janus (2011-02-23). "The Odd History And Uncertain Future Of Chinatown Fair, NYC's Last Great Arcade". Vice Motherboard.
  2. Kaminer, Ariel (2011-03-11). "Chinatown Fair's Closing Leaves Gamers Bereft". The New York Times.
  3. Rosenberg, Zoe (2015-11-13). "Manhattan's Last Coin-Operated Arcade Memorialized In New Documentary". Curbed.
  4. Lin, Jing (2014-09-08). "A Stretch of Mott Street, Remembered". Voices of NY.
  5. French, Paul (2012-11-20). "The Port Arthur Restaurant, Mott Street, New York City". China Rhyming.
  6. Maurer, Daniel (2015-11-18). "Cut Class and Catch This Documentary About Chinatown Fair Arcade". Bedford and Bowery.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Carlson, Jen (2015-11-13). "Video: Revisit The Old Days Of Chinatown Fair In This New Documentary". Gothamist.
  8. Gregory, Kia (10 June 2012). "Chinatown Fair Returns, but Without Chicken Playing Tick-Tack-Toe". The New York Times.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Chibber, Kabir (4 August 2010). "An Arcade Offers Face-to-Face Fighting in the Age of Online Gaming". The New York Times.
  10. Kopfstein, Janus (2012-05-07). "New York's Chinatown Fair arcade reopens, but the game has changed". The Verge.
  11. Jaya Saxena (2011-03-07). "Chinatown Fair Resurfaces in Brooklyn As Next Level Arcade". Gothamist.
  12. Jessica Leigh Hester (2016-07-21). "When Video Game Arcades Were Community Centers". CityLab.

This arcade was featured in March, 2018.

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