The Lee Family of New York Chinatown Since 1888

When 23 Oct 2013 - 13 Apr 2014
Where Museum of Chinese in American
215 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
United States
Cost General Admission: $10 Seniors (65+ w/ID) and Students (w/school ID): $5 Children under 12 in groups less than 10: free MOCA Members: free
Enquiry 2126194785

Founded in 1888, Harold L. Lee and Sons, Inc. is a cornerstone of Chinatown. The business is named after Lee Lun (who took the American name Harold), the son of Lee Kee Lo who came to the United States as a merchant in 1888 when Chinatown consisted of three streets: Mott, Pell and Doyers. Lee Kee Lo founded his company, Tai Lung (or Great Prosperity), with his two brothers on 31 Pell Street where today the family operates an insurance company.

The year 2013 will mark its 125th anniversary. MOCA, which honored CEO Sandra Lee, Harold’s great-granddaughter, in its Festival of Community heroes, will present a selection of photographs and artifacts from the business, tracing its rise from a small foreign exchange business to national insurance brokerage. The exhibition will take place in MOCA’s recreated general store, a space fashioned to represent an old New York storefront with tin ceilings, built-in wooden cabinets, and brick walls.

Through vintage photographs, original artifacts, and other ephemera from the family’s primary businesses in its 125 year history (curio shop, foreign currency exchange, travel agency, movie theater and insurance agency), the exhibition will describe the unique journeys of the Lee family, their businesses and New York’s Chinatown. And by seeing Chinatown through the Lee family history, it hopes to tell the story of how small businesses are part of an essential social and economic ecosystem that sustain communities like Chinatown.

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