Wedged between two brick walls is the original Chinatown Telephone Exchange. Our City Guide, Mae Schoenig, explained that its pagoda roof structure is designed to allow evil spirits to be guided back up to the heavens.
Vintage postcard from CardCow.com
The telephone operators had to speak five Chinese dialects plus English in order to work at the Exchange. They also had to memorize all the residents’ phone numbers and their family nickname. Mae told us that she often did not know the names of many of her relatives. She only knew them by their relationship in the family. For example, the grandmother on her father’s side would be named True Grandma and the grandmother on the mother’s side would be Foreign Grandma. The youngest boy may be named Last Brother.