Three alarm fire last night in Chinatown

Margaret Chin’s office — and the dailies — followed a Chinatown fire that started late last night at 70 Mulberry at the corner of Bayard. Firefighters are still grappling with it this morning. The building houses a group of community organizations, including Chinatown Manpower Project, Museum of Chinese in America, United East Athletics Association, Chen and Dancers and the Chinese American Planning Council senior center. Three people, along with two firefighters, were injured and had to be rescued from the building — one from the fifth floor by ladder. A passerby spotted flames in the fourth floor window at 8:45p last night and called 911; the cause is unknown.

The building was built in the early 1890s and housed P.S. 23, or the Columbus School, which closed in 1975 after serving thousands of immigrant children from all over the globe. The Chinatown History project sponsored a reunion there in 1988.

“70 Mulberry is the building where I went to school after my family immigrated to New York from Hong Kong in 1963,” said Chin. “It has been an anchor in the Chinatown community for generations.” And now a temporary home has to be found for those organizations. “We must make sure vital services are not lost, and that these groups’ needs are met.”



  1. Can still smell it this morning. Horrible timing, Lunar New Year is this Sat.

    • Yes, agreed. Terrible.

      • Thankfully no one died and hopefully the one seriously injured person will survive.

        This fire is suspicious to me, sorry. Of all the buildings for a fire to happen in it happens in one which houses social services for the neighborhood and is in a prime real estate location.

  2. What I’m still pondering in why the brand new Museum of the Chinese in America (MOCA) was storing hundreds of priceless antiques from the Asian community in that old old building.
    We lost artifacts from colonial NYC when the Towers fell. When are local historians going to learn not to place historical treasures all in one spot?