The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Trump Earns Votes in Parts of Blue Chinatown and the Lower East Side

By Allegra Hobbs | November 11, 2016 4:20pm | Updated on November 14, 2016 11:57am
 In Knickerbocker Village, roughly 30 percent of residents voted for Trump.
In Knickerbocker Village, roughly 30 percent of residents voted for Trump.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs; DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

CHINATOWN — Though the Lower East Side and Chinatown, like all of Manhattan, voted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, President-elect Donald Trump earned as much as 30 percent of the vote in select pockets of each neighborhood — higher than the citywide percentage that voted Republican.

A higher-than-average turnout for Trump was focused across sections of Chinatown. In Election District 30, comprising Confucius Plaza and falling between the Bowery and the Manhattan Bridge, 22.75 percent of voters cast their ballot for Trump — higher than the average in Manhattan, where 9.8 percent voted for Trump.

Further south, Trump saw an even higher turnout per capita. In Knickerbocker Village, a massive apartment complex bordered by Monroe, Cherry, Market and Catherine streets near the Manhattan Bridge — comprising election districts 25, 26 and 27 — roughly 30 percent of voting residents went with the GOP candidate.

But the deeper shades of red in some pockets isn't surprising, said a local activist, who said many elderly Chinese residents maintain a historic loyalty to the Republican Party dating back to the Korean War, during which President Eisenhower, a Republican, backed the government in Taiwan, protecting the island from the perceived threat of communism in the People's Republic of China.

"A lot of older generations, because they're older, think once a friend always a friend — they remember fondly, I think," said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership.

"People remember: 'You protected me when I was vulnerable, I'm going to be loyal to you.'"

The turnout in the Confucius Plaza area is unsurprising, said Chen, noting many elderly Chinese residents live there. Still, the even higher percentages seen in Knickerbocker Village are unusually high, he said.

"You have an old Chinese population there, and an old Italian population, so that is not a surprise, but 30 percent is abnormally high," he said.

Knickerbocker Village, though technically within the bounds of Chinatown, was once heavily populated by Italian, Jewish and Irish tenants, according to longtime residents, but those populations are now dwarfed by an influx of Chinese residents, many of whom are elderly.

"At one point it was all Italian, Irish and Jewish people," recalled Michael Moreno, a resident of Knickerbocker Village of 60 years. "Now it's all Chinese."

Moreno, who abstained from voting, said he had been under the impression his Italian neighbors were lifelong Democrats, but admitted he hadn't engaged in many political discussions with them during the election cycle.

"Maybe now they're all turning Republican," he said.

In fact, one longtime Little Italy resident and organizer of the annual San Gennaro feast said many Italian American voters he spoke to, who had previously voted Democrat, voted Trump this election because they have become disenchanted with the Democratic Party and the political establishment.

"A lot of them are disgusted with politicians, and thought having a non-politician would help," said John Fratta, who would not say which candidate won his vote. "They're all Democrats and they thought they just couldn't support Hillary. They thought it was time for a change."

Many Italian Americans in Lower Manhattan are working class, explained Fratta, and feel they have been betrayed by the party that had claimed to champion the poor.

"These are working class, middle class people, and they feel they were short changed and have been short changed," he said. "The Democratic Party used to be the party of the poor and the middle class, and that really changed. I think it was a turnout of frustration and anger more than anything."