Orange Lot: A Well-Kept Secret

July 7, 2009 by

“Hey, what’s going on?”
“It’s Tuesday night, dollar skewers man!”
“Nice, I’ll try to get down to Chinatown at around 6 o’clock after work. Are you going to call up the rest of the crew?”
“Yeah, I’ll call them. Where should we meet?”
“I’ll be at the Orange Lot. After 5 and on weekends it’s like free.”
“OK, I’ll tell everyone to meet us at the Orange Lot. 6 o’clock.”
“Cool, see you then. Later”
“Take it easy…”

We do this few times a week. Casual get togethers for dinner in Chinatown, Wednesday happy hours in Center City, clubbing in Old City on Friday nights, and of course dim-sum, grocery shopping, hair-cuts… on Sunday afternoons. Good times… Good times…

Dinners in Chinatown on the weekdays are the best. Half-priced sushi, cheap hand drawn noodles, soup dumplings and scallion pancakes… mmm scallion pancakes are so good! 🙂 This hits the spot after a long day at work or school. And best of all there’s always parking at the Orange Lot.

SSSssshhh it’s a secret though. I can tell you about it… but you can’t go out and tell everyone, or else later everyone will know about it and then there will never be parking in Chinatown… and no I’m not exactly a big fan of paying $20 at the paid lots (That’s like dim-sum for 2 people!). And don’t even get me started on having to carry around a zillion quarters for the privilege of getting my mirrors clipped by some dude in a white van who thinks he’s Jay Chou in Initial D or something.

But anyway, happy hours and bar-hopping are a different story. Orange lot is pretty much in between Old City and the cool places to go in Center City. It’s going to be a 10 to 15 block walk either way. So it doesn’t really work so well for the ladies and their heels, though they usually tough it out. Making it back on foot is usually a different story, though a cab back split between 4 people usually only adds up to a few dollars each. Better yet ‘remind’ your friends that you had bought them a couple of extra drinks at the bar and get them to pay. 🙂 If you make it back after your long night of partying you are rewarded with late night munchies in Chinatown. Everyone’s got their favorite spot… but it always ends up the same. Two pots of tea and a bowl of noodles later you realize, “It’s 4am! We should get home… weren’t we coming back here for dim sum tomorrow morning?”

That whole morning thing didn’t really work out so well. It always ends up being just about noon when you get that first text message from your friends that we’re going to try to meet up at around 1pm. At that time, don’t even try to look for parking at the Orange Lot… you’re not going to find it. Everyone and their mother is in town for exactly the same reasons we go. Chinatown north is your best bet for parking though. Most of the time you can even find parking right off of Vine Street, which helps when you’re carrying back bags filled with fatty pork, nappa cabbage, canned groceries, a whole roast duck, and stuff from the bakeries. On your way back though you pass by the Orange Lot and see two or three empty spaces and kick yourself for not seeing them before. Oh well, next time… you’ll be back soon anyway.

strummin’ under the stars at the little red string

July 1, 2009 by

the little red string

“the little red string” by Jonathan & Kimberly Stemler

(photography by Jeff Reeder)

Stop by and revel in an evening of music, food, and community with the Asian Arts Initiative to celebrate the final evening of “the little red string” installation by artists Jonathan and Kimberly Stemler:


Monday, July 6, 7-9 p.m.


Carlton Street between 11th & 12th Streets, Chinatown (Carlton is north of Vine, south of Callowhill, one block away from the Initiative)


Visually suggesting stars and constellations, “the little red string” lanterns beneath a dark viaduct light the way for the community’s expansion in Chinatown North. Each of the lanterns are inscribed with personal stories from community members describing their connection with the night sky in their respective homelands and traditions.


Before the artists remove the lanterns the following day, this is the last chance to enjoy the beauty that they have brought to the neighborhood!

Entertainment will include live music by local guitar players Wayne Hsu, Cindy Radona, Annie Seng, Owen Zhong, and others. Musically inclined community members are encouraged to bring your own instruments and join the jam session!

Light refreshments will be provided, and community members are encouraged to each bring a dish to share as a potluck picnic.

Admission is free. Donations are always accepted!

call for bloggers

April 17, 2009 by

The Asian Arts Initiative is seeking bloggers to write about our current exhibition Chinatown In/flux: Future Landscapes.

Each blogger will receive a $50 stipend.  To qualify as a paid blogger, you must live and/or work in Philadelphia’s Chinatown area.  If selected, you must submit a minimum of five entries by August 2, 2009.

To apply, please e-mail your WordPress username to

If you do not live/work in Chinatown and/or you do not want to commit to 5 entries, you are still encouraged to contribute comments on the installations’ pages (see right sidebar) and any number of guest blog entries.