It’s in Chinatown, and it’s best to visit late on a Friday or Saturday night.
From Canal Street, head south on Bowery past Chatham Square…
…and turn right onto the dimly lit, deserted Mott Street.
It’s at #8 Mott, though you’ll know you’re there simply because it’s the only storefront around with its rollgate up, a strange purplish light spilling out onto the street.
Head through the fingerprint streaked glass doors…
…and you’ll find yourself in something out of a movie, a brick-walled tunnel of a space lined on both sides with dozens of quarter-fed video games: the last arcade in Chinatown.
This is the real thing. Not a Hollywood set, or a nostalgia-fueled attempt at creating a Tron-like arcade. The letters on the store’s sign are missing not for aesthetic value but because they fell down with age or were stolen, and haven’t been replaced because the owner doesn’t feel it’s worth the trouble.
Same goes for the vertical Video Game Land sign, though I wish to God this would get fixed – nothing would be cooler than turning onto Mott Street and finding a rainbow of flashing lights advertising one of the last old school arcades in the city.
I only learned of Chinatown Fair Arcade recently, when a friend showed me it after a delicious Peking duck dinner one Saturday night. The place was packed with a mix of young teens, 20-something hipsters, and Chinese locals pumping quarters for a few minutes of video gaming.
For the most part, the games are a quarter or two…