Belleville Historical Society celebrates Lunar New Year

It’s the year of the rabbit — so a rabbit visited the Belleville Public Library recently.

Did you know the first Chinese community in this part of the U.S. was not in New York City — but in Belleville? Before there was a Chinatown in New York City, following the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, 68 Chinese men and boys, former railroad workers, arrived in Belleville in 1870. The first Chinese New year was celebrated in Belleville in January 1871 and the first school for Chinese immigrants, the Belleville Chinese Sabbath School, was opened later that same year. In the 1870s and 1880s, Chinese immigrants from throughout the region would travel to Belleville to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the only such celebration in this part of the U.S. at that time. During a period of intense discrimination elsewhere, Chinese immigrants found a welcoming home in Belleville. The Belleville Historical Society is hosting a Belleville Chinese History/Lunar New Year exhibit at the Belleville Public Library, 221 Washington Ave., though Feb. 10.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.