Communities with a concentration of Chinese residents or Chinese-owned businesses are typically referred to as “Chinatowns.” Typically located in the downtown areas of major cities, they were pioneered by early Chinese immigrants in the 19th to the mid-20th centuries. Many Chinatowns are focused on commercial tourism; others are actual living and working communities. In some cities, Chinatown residents have migrated to the suburbs, leaving the district primary as a tourist attraction.
The following are some of the major Chinatown tourist districts of the U.S.:
Chicago, IL (www.chicagochinatown.org)
• Chinatown in Chicago occupies the area along Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road south of downtown. The area is dominated by commerce – restaurants, markets, shops – with residential developments being built only within the past few years.
Chinatown Districts in USA Photo Gallery
New York, NY (www.explorechinatown.com)
• The old Chinatown of New York City is centered around Canal Street in Manhattan. At least two other satellite Chinatowns have cropped up: Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street in Flushing, Queens, which has actually surpassed the old Manhattan Chinatown and is today the largest Chinatown in the U.S., and in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn around 50th to 65th Streets along 8th Avenue.
Philadelphia, PA (www.phillychinatown.com)
• In recent years, parts of Chinatown have been bought out for the expansion of the
Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Vine Street Expressway. The city has now halted the buying up of Chinatown and the district is growing and spreading throughout Center City. The area is filled with numerous Chinese restaurants and groceries.
San Francisco, CA (www.sanfranciscochinatown.com)
• One of the largest and highest-profile among Chinatowns in North America is San
Francisco’s Chinatown. According to Sunset Magazine, Chinatown attracts millions
of tourists annually, making the community, along with the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the prime attractions of the city. San Francisco’s Chinatown hosts the largest Chinese New Year parade in the U.S.
Seattle, WA (www.internationaldistrict.org)
• Seattle’s Chinatown was consolidated as the International District in the 1950s, which is now a concentrated pan-Asian business district enclave that includes Vietnamese and other people of Asian heritage who live in the city.
• The Chinatown of Washington has about a dozen Chinese restaurants, which, along with its ethnic shops, is mostly geared towards tourists. The area has more recently been part of a redevelopment movement, with an influx of mainstream restaurant and retail chains now occupying most of Chinatown. A newer district of Chinese retail, restaurants, and services has emerged in Rockville, Maryland, about 20 miles north of the Washington-area Chinatown.
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