HomeAsian Americans88 Murals Will Grace Chinatown's Sidewalk Gates

88 Murals Will Grace Chinatown’s Sidewalk Gates

John Yu, 59, poses next to one of the murals he painted for the 88 Gates Project. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

During the day, NewYork’s Chinatown on the Lower East Side is a bustling commercial district with bins of ripe produce spilling into the street and imported trinkets winking from glass windows.

At night, each store’s heavy ridged walls come down — sidewalk gates — to keep its wares safe overnight. Many of the monotone metal grates are rusted, peeling, graffitied.

One longtime Chinatown resident aims to change that.

John Yu, 59, has lived in Chinatown for nearly half his life: 28 years. Originally from Hong Kong, he started the Chinatown 88 Gates Project.

The goal is to paint 88 sidewalk gates with Chinese-inspired murals across the neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of 88 Gates Project/Facebook.

Yu and his two daughters, Winnie and Angie, have already painted 30-something gates this summer. The designs are reminiscent of classic Chinese art.

“A lot of people are interested in Chinese culture so when they come here I want them to see more of that — I try to paint in the culture and style,” Yu said to Patch. 

Before: a sidewalk gate mural in progress.
After: The sidewalk gate mural completed.

The name, “88 Gates Project”, is a version of the city’s “100 Gates Project” on the Lower East Side. Similarly, the goal was to paint sidewalk gates with original murals.

But why did Yu choose 88?

“Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, I thought, ‘Doing eight is too little and 800 is too much,’ but I said, ‘I can handle doing 88 gates,'” said Yu.

Chinatown businesses interested in having their gates painted can email [email protected].

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  1. RE:88 murals will grace Chinatown’s Sidewalk Gates: Very cool! Every Chinatown in US should do this. Of course graffiti artists might ruin them unless they are employed to do them.


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