Historically, Manhattan’s Koreatown is part of the Garment District. Koreatown is primarily a Korean business district, but in recent years, the district has seen an increase in Korean and European traffic as well, and the resident Korean population in the area has grown concomitantly. There was never a formal plan or agreement to create a Korean commercial district in Manhattan. However, given the high tourist traffic stemming from nearby Midtown Manhattan landmarks like the Empire State Building, Macy’s Herald Square, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, the Garment District, and the Flower District, it was a convenient location for Korean immigrants to settle. Initiated by the opening of a Korean bookstore and a handful of restaurants in the 1980s, Koreatown sprang into being. With their success, an additional stream of Korean-owned businesses took root in the neighborhood, coinciding with increased immigration from Korea; and with rising demand for the prime location, overall property values in the area increased as well.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the Korean population of Manhattan (co-extensive with New York County) had nearly doubled to approximately 20,000 over the decade since the 2000 Census. Along with the Koreatowns in nearby Bergen County, New Jersey (in Palisades Park and Fort Lee) and Long Island (extending eastward fromFlushing, Queens) in New York, Manhattan’s Koreatown serves as the nexus for an overall Korean American population of 218,764 individuals in the New York City Metropolitan Area, the second largest population of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea.