Massive fire destroys as many as 85,000 artifacts in historic Chinatown museum

A massive fire ripped through a historic museum in New York City's Chinatown on Thursday. The fire destroyed as many as 85,000 artifacts just before Lunar New Year.

The building had been transformed into New York City's Museum of Chinese in America in 1980, housing things such as letters, menus, postcards, traditional dresses and family albums dating back to the late 1800s.

The museum's president, Nancy Yao Maasbach, stressed the significance of the items that may have been lost. 

"This is not just a story of Chinatown, but Chinese immigration to this country," she said. "What we have been striving to do is tell these stories because they're not in U.S. textbooks." 

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called the fire "devastation" and promised to rebuild.