Katie Gee Salisbury
a neon “hand laundry” sign glows in the window of a laundry above a rack of hanging shirts wrapped in plastic
a neon “hand laundry” sign glows in the window of a laundry above a rack of hanging shirts wrapped in plastic
a laundry on the Upper East Side, NYC, 2015 (taken by the author)

Small businesses have long been the bastion of first-generation immigrants starting out in America and hoping to build a life here. There was a time when Chinese laundries were as common as the corner bodega or mini-mart. Once industrial washing machines came along, though, many hand laundries went the way of the dinosaurs. In their place a new business sprung up: Chinese takeouts.

Oftentimes trends like this have a lot to do with migration patterns and how networks of immigrants leverage resources. …


My favorite photo of Anna May Wong

It started with a photograph. Black and white, developed from film, an artifact of the era it came from.

The photo itself was nothing special, most likely snapped by a dispassionate photojournalist assigned to capture another parade in Chinatown. However, it was remarkable in one way. In it, sitting next to two other dignitaries in the backseat of a convertible was Anna May Wong. Hollywood’s first Asian American movie star.

A split-second gaze at this photo as an impressionable 19-year-old was enough to reel me in and bond me to Anna May Wong for life (at least it seems that…


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“We dry and die in the sun / While the seascape arranges old fruit, / Coming in and the tide, glistening / At noon.” — Weldon Kees

The dog days of summer have nearly come and gone, but there are a few weeks left to catch those last rays of summer sunshine if you’re still daydreaming of a beach day from your air-conditioned office cubicle.

Let me make a recommendation: Brighton Beach.

In ninth grade I watched a high school production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. Back then I had only an inkling of the place — that it was somewhere faraway and down on its luck, undesirable to a kid going through those awkward adolescent years. …


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The reviews you’ve read are true. La La Land is magical, a two-hour time-lapse in a Los Angeles seen through rose-colored glasses, where all the city’s landmarks come alive in the lovely haze of twilight. It would seem that a nostalgia-steeped, cotton candy musical is just what the doctor ordered to stave off the gloom of an incredibly shitty year.

We can’t seem to catch a break. And neither can Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), the star-crossed lovers at the heart of director Damien Chazelle’s Technicolor triumph. She is an aspiring actress-turned-playwright; he is a jazz pianist who…


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On the streets of New York City there is an underground economy of sidewalk hustlers. If you look closely enough, you’ll see it: wannabe rappers handing out CDs, carts selling homemade churros and fresh-sliced mango on a stick, kids doing pole routines in the subway for a few extra bucks, and then there’s always the can-collectors sifting through yesterday’s garbage. Among this assorted riffraff you’ll find Carita, a 21-year-old double majoring in psychology and nursing at Hunter College.

Carita is no stranger to hard work, but unlike other college students, her resume doesn’t include fancy internships at well-known companies or…


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When I landed in Berlin on a snowy morning in January, there was a new voicemail from my mom on my phone. We didn’t get the chance to talk before my flight, but I travel often and didn’t think much of the missed call. I had just embarked on a trip through Germany and Greece with a small group of filmmakers to chronicle the stories of women and girl refugees for She Is Syria, a multimedia documentary project.

I didn’t know what to expect tackling such a devastating and urgent issue, or whether anyone would even be willing to talk…


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Coworking spaces are a hot commodity in today’s creative economy. They’re popping up left and right in urban hubs across the nation. WeWork, a leader in the industry, was recently evaluated at $10 billion.

But beyond giving entrepreneurs a place to park their MacBooks for the day, these spaces are building community and opening up opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to network and cross-pollinate. At The Yard, a work space collective with five locations in NYC, common areas double as art galleries.

After visiting The Yard’s Williamsburg office, which looks like “a Tribeca gallery with a lounge and conference rooms,” curator…


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The last place you’d think to see teenagers practicing their kick flips is in Addis Ababa, the frenetic capital city of Ethiopia, where skaters are lucky to find a paved road free of traffic or new construction.

Despite challenges, the sport is slowly gaining traction there. Local kids improvise with the spaces available, turning empty fountains and deserted monuments into their own personal skateparks.

An abandoned parking lot on Sarbet Circle near the old airport is a popular spot. The community there started with 25 kids and 7 boards and has grown into a grassroots movement called Ethiopia Skate. Founded…


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A rad pair of sunglasses will turn heads, maybe change the way people perceive you, and project an aura of cool sophistication. A remarkable pair works the other way around — it transforms the way you see the world.

Heads up. Shades on. This is the world according to Coco and Breezy.

You might call them the prototypical New York success story. In just a few years these twin style icons have taken the fashion world by storm, becoming unexpected eyewear moguls at the ripe old age of 24 and building a global brand in the process. In fact, their…


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Chinese New Year circa 1992

Growing up hapa meant celebrating the Lunar New Year with my Chinese side of the family each winter. My mom would pull out the silk cheongsams and mandarin-collared coats she kept in a cedar chest that smelled of mothballs. Opening it up was like peering into a long lost past.

Once dressed in our festive outfits, we’d pile into our family’s red Aerostar van, drive downtown on the winding 110 Pasadena Freeway, taking the off ramp that exits directly onto Hill Street, and park in the cool concrete structure beneath our destination: Empress Pavillion, the largest, most cacophonous dim sum…

Katie Gee Salisbury

My writing and photography has appeared in The Ringer, VICE, Roads & Kingdoms, The Margins, and elsewhere. I’m currently at work on a book about Anna May Wong.

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