Wednesday, 28 January 2009


The Hip Sing Association (formerly known as the Hip Sing Tong) was a Chinese-American criminal organisation based in and around Pell Street during the early to mid 20th century which waged violent and bloody Tong wars for the control of Chinatown, with rivals the Four Brothers and On Leong Tong. Many still hold the firm view that the Hip Sing Tong is still active in Pell Street, maybe however, not quite to the same extent, in range of criminal activity and violence, as in its heyday.
The properties that featured in the Hip Sing's activities and history still exist in Pell Street, albeit behind different storefronts.
Hip Sing Tong HQ at 16 Pell Street

The "United in Victory" association, the first major secret society in Chinatown, was based here for decades. In 1898, roughly 12% of Chinatowns residents were said to be members. A war stated with rival On Leong Tong when they tried to storm this building on October 7th, 1924; by the time things quietened settled down, 70 people were reported dead.

13 & 15, Pell Street

No 15 housed the command of Hip Sing Associates Inc - a thinly disguised corporate trading entity for the Hip Sing Tong.

From about 1905 until 1911, 13, Pell Street was the address of Sing Dock, the "Scientific Killer," chief hitman of the Hop Sing Tong. He was known for methodically planning his murders, including the Chinese Theater massacre that left four dead. He was killed in 1911 at the Hip Sing headquarters across the road at 16 Pell Street.

12 Pell Street (left)
12, Pell Street was the address of the Chinatown Music Hall, the first Chinese theater in the Eastern U.S, which later became The Pelham, a saloon where Irving Berlin got his start as a singing waiter. It was also an opium den; Yee Hoy, the Hip Sing member (nicknamed "Girl Face") who killed Sing Dock, lived at this address and was assassinated on the street here in 1912.
11, Pell Street

King Son Cafe, at no. 11, was the principal hangout for the Flying Dragons, the street gang affiliated with the Hip Song Tong.

10 Pell Street

The building at no. 10 served as the Hip Sing's original headquarters when they came to New York City in the 1890's. It was also an opium den.

On the corner of Pell Street and 18 Bowery (above) is the oldest surviving townhouse in Manhattan, it was built sometime between 1785 and 1789 - in Georgian mixed with foreshadowing of Federal style. In the 1830's and '40's it housed a brothel - which cannot be accredited to the Hip Sing as it was before their time!

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