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Chinatowns in North America

This article surveys individual Chinatowns in North America.

In general, there are three types of Chinatowns in North America: frontier and rural Chinatowns, urban Chinatowns, and suburban Chinatowns. The first two types of Chinatowns were typically pioneered by early Chinese immigrants in the 19th to the mid-20th centuries. Suburban quasi-"Chinatowns" - altogether replacing the functions of their original counterparts - were developed due to the arrival of later waves of new ethnic Chinese immigrants as well as the in flow of investments, mostly during the 1970s and 1980s.

Chinatowns in Canada

Alberta

Edmonton

There are actually two Chinatowns in Edmonton: the newer Chinatown North (dominated by Hong Kong Chinese emigrants) and the older Chinatown South. Chinatown North stretches on 97 St from 107A Ave to 105 Ave and boasts mostly of shops, restaurants, and supermarkets. Chinatown South stretches on 102 Ave (Harbin Road) from 97 St to 95 St and south to Jasper Avenue, contains some restaurants, shops, residential buildings, and a multicultural centre.

West Edmonton Mall has a themed street named Chinatown, with a lion's gate entrance, a koi pond, and a festive dragon. Asian-themed shops and services are available, anchored by a T&T Supermarket.

Calgary

The Chinatown in Calgary is the largest in Alberta. It spans 1 St E westward to 10 St W and from the Bow River southward to 4 Ave SW. This Chinatown consists of a large shopping centre called Dragon City Mall and a Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre located at 1 St SW. Another neighbourhood with an Asian astmosphere is forming along the Centre Street corridor to the north of downtown and the Bow River. Nearly all of this is post-1930s, as Calgary's original Chinatown was little more than a handful of Chinese and Western restaurants in the same area, without the historic Chinese-ethnic residential-commercial quality of more historic Chinatowns like those in Vancouver and Vermont.

British Columbia

Vancouver

Vancouver's Chinatown is the largest in Canada, and the fourth largest in North America (after New York; Flushing, NY; and San Francisco). Dating back to the late 19th century, the main centre of the older Chinatown is Pender and Main Streets in downtown Vancouver, which is also, along with Victoria's (Chinatown, Victoria), one of the oldest surviving Chinatowns in North America, and has been the setting for a variety of modern Chinese Canadian culture and literature and innumerable Hollywood movies.

Vancouver's Chinatown contains numerous galleries, shops, restaurants, and markets, in addition to the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and park; the garden is the first and one of the largest Ming era-style Chinese gardens outside China.

The moniker "Hongcouver" developed during the influx of Hongkongers in the 1980s.

During the early 1990s, the cultural centre and destination point for Chinese Canadians had begun to shift away from the old Chinatown in downtown Vancouver, moving southward into the suburbs of the Lower Mainland, particularly around 41st Avenue and Victoria Street in Vancouver and the Golden Village area in Richmond. In addition to Richmond, there are other Chinese immigrant communities developing in Burnaby and Coquitlam. The malls of the Metrotown district of South Burnaby are heavily Asian-oriented, and comprise yet another suburban quasi-Chinatown, although less so than Golden Village.

International Village, which is an outgrowth of the Expo Lands development, is a newer apartment tower and strip mall near Chinatown which includes an Asian mall and numerous upscale shoppes and restaurant developments that are intended to rejuvenate Chinatown.

Richmond

The Golden Village neighbourhood of Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, is the exception to North American Chinatown trends described above. Unlike the Mandarin-dominated or the pan-Chinese new "Chinatowns" in the U.S., the shops and services in Richmond are mostly Hong Kong-centric. In local usage, Chinatown refers exclusively to downtown Vancouver's historic Chinatown district.

The Richmond area is 10 km south of Chinatown in downtown Vancouver near Highway 99 and Westminster Highway; the main corridor of the Chinese retailers is No. 3 Road. It is quite possibly the largest suburban Chinatown in North America, complete with numerous malls, very large grocery stores, and an endless number of restaurants and small businesses. The Aberdeen Centre and Yaohan Centre are prominent malls for Chinese retailing. Also, with a myriad of Cantonese seafood eateries, many top Hong Kong chefs have been lured to restaurants in the Golden Village.

As of 2006, two-thirds of Richmond's population was of Chinese descent, which was approximately 100,000 people Many affluent Hong Kong Chinese especially chose to come to the Vancouver area to escape the perceived implications of the Hong Kong handover of sovereignty in 1997 from Britain to communist Mainland China.

Burnaby

Increasing Chinese migration to Burnaby (among suburbs in the Metropolitan Vancouver Lower Mainland) has led to the development of the Crystal Mall, a pan-Asian mall in the Metrotown area of Kingsway, although the other malls and plazas in the area also have a marked Asian clientele.

Victoria

A very small Chinatown can be found in the provincial capital of Victoria, and as with most North American Chinatowns it is mostly touted as a tourist attraction. Chinatown is located within minutes walking distance of other Downtown Victoria shopping, entertainment, and cultural venues such as: Save On Foods Memorial Centre Arena, Bay Centre Mall, Market Square, Victoria, Centennial Square, Bastion Square. It is centred on Fisgard Street and is, along with the much larger one in downtown Vancouver, one of the oldest surviving historic Chinatowns in North America. There are about two dozen Chinese-oriented businesses in this area.

Despite its small size, it was once the largest and oldest Canadian Chinatown on the West Coast of North America. It is the second oldest Chinatown after San Francisco's and it played an important part in local history, including the British Columbia Gold Rushes. Companies based here were the contractors for railway labour on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian National Railway (CNR). During the 20th Century, the second floor of the building on the southwest corner of Government and Fisgard Streets was the International Headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party. Records of Victoria's Chinese Benevolent Association, the oldest Chinese-Canadian organization, display a wide range of pursuits including advocacy for full political equality as well as self-help and mutual aid activities.

The Victoria BC Chinatown was made up of several streets (about 6 square city blocks, Chinatown, Victoria) at its highest population in around 1910-1911.

Other Chinatowns in British Columbia

Manitoba

The Chinatown in Winnipeg was formed in 1909. It is on King Street between James and Higgins Avenues, and was officially designated in 1968. Some 20,000 Chinese live in the Winnipeg area.

Ontario

Toronto

Toronto's historic Chinatown is centered on Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street. More recently the enclave has come to reflect a more diverse set of East Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai. A smaller enclave known as East Chinatown is located in the Riverdale neighbourhood, centred at the corner of Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street. Chinese-Vietnamese and mainland Chinese immigrants dominate that district.

In addition to the two inner-city Chinatowns, there are newer satellite Chinese communities throughout the suburbs of Greater Toronto, especially in Agincourt, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Markham. Major clusters of commercial development are found along Highway 7 and Steeles Avenue, and are noted for the concentration of Chinese strip malls, including Pacific Mall and Splendid China Tower.

These newer suburban communities include businesses from several regions of China, but they also are dominated by businesses set up by Hong Kong companies as well as immigrants from Hong Kong and their families. Meanwhile, the old Chinatown of Toronto has become noticeably Vietnamese in character. Vietnamese have also become part of the new Asian areas on the Jane and Finch corridor and in Missisauga.

Ottawa

Ottawa's "Chinatown" is actually named the Asian Village and it is located in the Centretown area, on Somerset Street West near Bronson Avenue. It is a community mixes with ethnic markets, shops, services and especially an assortment of ethnic Chinese and ethnic Vietnamese eateries.

Windsor

An informal but sizable Chinatown is found in Windsor, Ontario, in close proximity to the Ambassador Bridge on Wyandotte Street West, between Rankin Avenue and Partington Avenue, within walking distance from the University of Windsor. This street has several businesses, ranging from Chinese groceries, restaurants, bakeries, among others - mostly established by the Vietnamese Chinese migrants. This Chinatown is also frequented by people from Michigan and Ohio since Metro Detroit lacks a formal "Chinatown", although there is a growing Chinese retail strip in the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights, Michigan, also filled with various businesses owned by Vietnamese Chinese.

Hamilton

A Chinatown is bounded by Canon Street from James Street to Bay Street North and Vine Street from James Street to Bay Street North.

Kitchener

A Chinatown is located along King Street in the southern portion of downtown.

Quebec

Montreal

Montreal's small, but well-frequented Chinatown is on rue De La Gauchetière and around rue Saint-Urbain and boulevard Saint-Laurent, between boulevard René-Lévesque and rue Viger (Place-d'Armes metro station), just a stone's throw away from the touristy Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal). It was originally formed in the 1890s and has been the centrepiece for Chinese residing in the Montreal area.

The Chinatown is known as Quartier chinois in French. Hong Kong Chinese especially have settled in the area. Over the years, Vietnamese-Chinese have set up shops and restaurants in the area as well. As with other Chinatowns the world over, the majority of the trade in the district are specialized in Chinese gastronomy, but there are also other diners specializing in Vietnamese cuisine. There are also Chinese bakeries offering Chinese pastries.

A newer Chinese commercial centre of suburban Montreal is on Taschereau Boulevard in Brossard, where Chinese-Canadians make up a significant portion of the population. Beginning in the late 1980s, Hong Kong Chinese immigrants arrived prior to the 1997 Communist Chinese takeover of British Hong Kong. Sadly, Brossard experienced a drop in its population of Chinese origin and many strip mall businesses have been abandoned as many Montreal Hong Kongers have returned home where there are felt to be more economic opportunities.

Chinese businesses in Quebec enjoy one of the only exceptions to that province's notorious language laws. When l'office de la langue française ordered restaurants and other businesses to replace their Chinese signs with signs where the French text is at least twice as large as Chinese, and without any English, Chinese businessmen protested that this was unlucky and bad for business. They were granted exemptions from the province's strict sign laws on cultural grounds (an exception not allowed other ethnic and cultural groups).

Quebec City

There was once a Chinatown on Côte d'Abraham in Quebec City, but Autoroute Dufferin-Montmorency cuts through what was once its location. Historically, it paled in size in contrast to its somewhat larger counterpart in Montreal. The first Chinese residents arrived in the late 19th Century. Most Chinese in the area operated business catering to their own: opium dens, mah-jongg, and Chinese laundries. The area peaked in the 1940s and 1950s. The separatist moved caused many to leave in the 1980s and 1990s. Some restaurants and a few Chinese residents remain. Most have moved to Montreal or Toronto.

The city has made attempts to re-establish a link to the past:

  • a street was renamed Rue de Xi’an in 2006
  • archway and park to be added shortly to commemorate the Chinese community of the past

Saskatchewan

Regina

Regina's Chinatown is found on 11th Avenue between Broad Street and Winnipeg Street. It features red bilingual street signs (in contrast to the standard English-only blue signs) and a few Asian groceries.

Saskatoon

In Saskatoon, the Chinatown can be found in the Riversdale district of that city.

Chinatowns in the United States

Arizona

Phoenix
Phoenix once had a Chinatown around what is now US Airways Center. It was defunct long before US Airways Center was built. Some artifacts from the Chinatown were uncovered in an archaeological dig on the site, and are exhibited at the Center.

A Chinatown-themed shopping center built to traditional Chinese architecture was opened in 1997 near the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It is called the Chinese Cultural Center and the offices are located at 668 N. 44st, a bit north of Van Buren St. The Chinese-American supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market operates a branch there. The shopping complex has attracted few tenants due to high rents. However, throughout Phoenix, there are many pockets of Chinese communities and areas nearby contain many Chinese supermarkets and restaurants.

California

Given its relative proximity to East Asia and Southeast Asia, California has the largest number of historic and contemporary Chinatowns in North America. The state boasts of the largest number of Chinatowns of all types, including the most well-known and largest Chinatown in San Francisco, the first all-Chinese rural town of Locke to be built by Chinese immigrants, and the first "Suburban Chinatown" that includes the cities of Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel and neighboring areas.

Many early Chinese immigrants were processed at Angel Island (now a California state park) in the San Francisco Bay area, which is equivalent to New York's Ellis Island for European immigrants.

Northern California

San Francisco
One of the largest, most notorious, most prominent and most highly-visited in North America is the San Francisco Chinatown, which is predominantly Cantonese-speaking, though many immigrants from Mainland China (mostly hailing from Guangdong province) are also fluent in Mandarin. Its main entrance is at Grant Avenue at Bush Street, but the center of Chinese commercial activities is on Stockton Avenue, whereas the section mostly oriented towards tourists is on Grant Avenue. While downtown Chinatown is the Chinese cultural center, smaller neighborhoods in the Richmond (Geary Avenue, Clement Street) and Sunset (Noriega Street, Irving Street west of 19th Avenue) districts have developed in recent years, coexisting with ethnic Russian and Korean businesses.

Founded around 1850, Chinatown was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and was later rebuilt and re-realized, using a Chinese-style architecture that has been criticized as garish and touristy. According to Sunset Magazine, Chinatown receives millions of tourists annually, making the community, along with Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge, one of the prime attractions and highlights of the city of San Francisco, as well as the centerpiece of Chinese-American history. With its Chinatown as the landmark, the city of San Francisco itself has one of the largest and predominant concentrations of Chinese-American population centers, representing 20% of total population as of the 2000 Census, even more than New York City in terms of proportional numbers according to anthropologist Bernard Wong. However, many ethnic Chinese - whether American-born Chinese or newer immigrant from Hong Kong, Mainland China, or Vietnam - do not reside in Chinatown today, but instead throughout the city of San Francisco as well as the surrounding Oakland and San Jose areas. Nevertheless, Chinatown remains the historical anchor. It has also remained the symbolic center as city politicians and candidates have made it a de rigueur stop during election campaigns. Historically and today, Chinese in America refer to San Francisco in Cantonese Chinese as Die Foul (大埠, which can be translated as 大城, da cheng in Mandarin Chinese or the Big City in English.)

Besides the main thoroughfare of Grant Avenue and various side streets, Chinatown has several side alleys, including Ross Alley. Contained within this alley is a mix of touristy stores, tiny barber shop (once patronized by famous singer Frank Sinatra) as well as a fortune cookie factory. Ross Alley used to have brothels, but they no longer exist.

Also within the confines of Chinatown is the Woh Hei Yuen Recreation Center and Park on Powell Street. Many Chinese-speaking old-timers are frequent patrons this park because their lodgings – generally intended for low-income persons - tend to be tiny and cramped. Many elderly people gather to play mahjong, Chinese poker, perform tai chi exercises in the morning, read a Chinese newspaper, or simply to lounge around.

The San Francisco Chinatown hosts the largest Chinese New Year parade in North America, with corporate sponsors such as the Bank of America and the award-winning and widely praised dragon dance team from the San Francisco Police Department, composed solely of Chinese-American SFPD officers (the only such team in existence in the United States). In its founding, it received the grant from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, otherwise known as the Chinese Six Companies. As Chinatown and many Chinese-Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area have historical or current roots in province of Guangdong, China (particularly Taishan County) and in Hong Kong, these dances mostly are performed in the southern Chinese style.

The first Chinese-American police chief in the United States, Fred Lau, of the SFPD, grew up in San Francisco Chinatown. The current SFPD Chief of Police, Heather Fong, was also born and raised in Chinatown. At the start of her police career, Fong was a key investigator of the notorious 1977 Golden Dragon massacre in Chinatown.

San Francisco Chinatown has been shown in numerous movies and television shows, and boasts a number of firsts, including the invention of chop suey, being the site of printing currency for the then-newly emerged Republic of China, and the first Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, San Francisco's Chinatown was also at the center for Chinese-American activism and radical politics, some of which was militant, as well as major gang activity with the emergence of the notorious Wah Ching in North America. Currently, the historic Chinatown shows some signs of decline.

After President Richard M. Nixon's historic 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China, the arrival of new Chinese immigrants to the San Francisco area helped diversify and introduce new Chinese cuisine from many regions throughout mainland China in its Chinatown — the restaurants previously served mainly Cantonese and unauthentic Chinese-American fare. However, the Chinese seafood restaurants with the best prices is said not to be in Chinatown itself but in the Richmond District and other Bay Area suburbs. In some cases these seafood restaurants are part of Hong Kong-based restaurant chains.

Today, as with most Chinatowns in or near congested urban centers, parking problems still continue to plague the area, which has implications on the economy of the enclave. Due to the aging infrastructure which pre-dated the advent of the motor vehicle, it has been said nothing could be done by the municipal government of San Francisco to alleviate such problems. Many principal ethnic Chinese residents and frequenters of Chinatown are elderly and do not speak much English and in terms of transportation have very limited mobility and remain in Chinatown for shopping and social services through the local associations.

The comparatively new Chinese cultural and commercial enclave of Richmond community (where Chinese development occurred during much of the 1980s and 1990s) provides a shopping and dining alternative as Chinese-Americans continually gravitate to the area instead, as it offers more authentic stores and Chinese restaurants, while the original Chinatown of San Francisco still remains dependent on gwei lo visitors for survival just as it has been since the 1920s.

Oakland

Oakland's Chinatown is frequently referred to as "Oakland Chinatown" in order to distinguish it from nearby San Francisco's Chinatown. Originally formed in the 1860s, the Chinatown of Oakland - centering upon 8th Street and Webster Street - shares a long history as its counterpart in the city of San Francisco as Oakland's community remains one of the focal point of Chinese American heritage in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, the major difference with San Francisco's Chinatown is that Oakland's version is not as touristy as its local economy tends not to rely on tourism as much. But the local government of Oakland has since promoted it as such as it is considered one the top sources of sales tax revenue for the city. The Chinatown does not have an ornamental entrance arch (paifang) but the streets of the community are adorned with road signs in English with Chinese rendering.

Today, while it remains a Cantonese-speaking enclave "Chinatown" is not exclusively Chinese anymore, but a vibrant pan-Asian neighborhood which reflects Oakland's rich diversity of Asian community of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian, Mien, Thai, and others. In a matter of 12 city blocks, one can expect to find in this Chinatown a collection of groceries, restaurants, stores (offering products such as ginseng and herbs, jewelry, and so on), clinics, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (9th Street), and habitations for elderly immigrants, as well as a local branch of the Oakland Public Library filled with Asian materials and collections. In addition to the standard Chinese New Year festivities, the Oakland Chinatown Streetfest (as held by the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce) is also held yearly in August and it features Chinese lion dances, parades, music, cooking demonstrations and contests, food festival, and various activities.

Oakland's Chinatown faces much competition from the suburban Chinese shopping centers scattered throughout the Bay Area.

San Jose/Silicon Valley
While the city of San Jose proper did have several Chinatowns in the past, they are all extinct today. Other examples of "Chinatowns" in the suburbs in California are suburban Fremont, Milpitas and Cupertino in the south San Francisco Bay Area. These three cities are located in Silicon Valley, where large numbers of Taiwanese Americans and Mainland Chinese nationals (many of whom are on U.S. work visas) are employed in the high-tech industry and where large number of Taiwanese high-tech firms are headquartered. Foster City also has a large Taiwanese American population. Cupertino remains the cultural center.

There are many Chinese shopping centers scattered around the Silicon Valley, which may have a social and economic impact on the old Chinatown in San Francisco. Silicon Valley tends to be mostly Taiwanese-dominated, whereas the Chinatowns of San Francisco and Oakland tend to be more heavily Cantonese-speaking. Some of the most notable of such centers are Cupertino Village in Cupertino, Milpitas Square in Milpitas, and Little Taipei in Fremont.

Sacramento
Sacramento has a relatively small urban Chinatown, which dates back to the early days of gold rush. Mostly it serve as museum than anything else.

Nowadays, the southern area of city consists mostly of Vietnamese businesses owned Chinese from Vietnam. On Stockton Boulevard there are Asian strip malls, complete with Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant, such as Pacific Rim Plaza and major Asian supermarket.

Sacramento has a long Chinese influence dating back to the California gold rush period. However, in the past decade, Sacramento has seen a booming ethnic Vietnamese population with a large migration from other parts of California.

Just beyond the Sacramento and Stockton areas, the small town of Locke is an example of an early rural "Chinatown" completely built by Chinese immigrants in 1915. It would be referred to by Chinese as "Ah so! You lookee but no touchee at Lockee!". Consisting of only three streets in town (Main Street, River Road, and Key Street), it was a thriving community with various merchants and associations as its economy based mostly on the agriculture. Very few ethnic Chinese live there these days. The Dai Loy Museum - dai loy(大來) literally renders as "big come" in Cantonese - as well as one Chinese restaurant offering a mixture of traditional Cantonese and Americanized Chinese food are features in Locke. In the early 1980s, a 30-minute documentary from the University of California, Berkeley called American Chinatown, which documented the last surviving immigrant old-timers as well as battles with land developers and the touristification of the community.

Fresno and Central Valley
Work is underway to revitalize Fresno's once-moribund Chinatown, founded in 1885 at F Street in the San Joaquin Valley city. It is undergoing a massive beautification project. However, currently the area is not exclusively Chinese. One of the major problems is that there are fewer Chinese businesses there. But the area already holds an annual Chinese New Year celebration.

The town of Hanford, about 30 miles distance from Fresno, features a ramshackled "Chinatown" from the 19th century era, mostly contained within a small street block known as China Alley. Many early immigrants arrived from the Sam Yup region (or Sanyi in modern pinyin) in the province of Guangdong, China. Many of its multigeneration American-born Chinese descendants of original settlers have since moved on. Chinatown had its early share of opium dens and brothels. In modern times, all that still stands of China Alley is a Taoist temple (a monument officially recognized by the National Register of Historic Places) and a special museum.

Southern California

Artesia
The city of Artesia has an emerging and much smaller Taiwanese commercial district in South Street and Pioneer Boulevard.
Inland Empire
Several cities of the Inland Empire region once had standing Chinatowns, including the former farming communities of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Redlands.

San Bernardino's Chinatown, pioneered in the late 1870s, occupied Third Street between Arrowhead and Mountain View. During its peak in the 1890s, the community flourished with several Chinese habitations and community trades, such as shops. By the 1920s, Chinatown experienced decline and the last remnants of Chinatown fell into obscurity in 1959.

The Chinatown in Redlands was on what is now Oriental Avenue and Texas Street. It is no longer extant.

The Chinatown of Riverside was established in 1885. The remaining Chinese American survivor of Riverside's Chinatown died off in 1974. He attempted to preserve Chinatown, but his efforts were in vain because the last remnant of Riverside's Chinatown was razed in 1978. As with many early Chinatowns in the small and medium-sized towns of California, the once vibrant Chinese American history has faded into obscurity.

Los Angeles
In the city of Los Angeles proper, the old inner-city Chinatown was built during the late 1930s–the second Chinatown to be constructed in Los Angeles. Formerly a "Little Italy," it is presently located on Broadway Avenue and Spring Street near Dodger Stadium in downtown Los Angeles with still several restaurants, grocers, and tourist-oriented trinket shops. A statue honoring the Kuomintang founder Dr. Sun Yat-sen adorns the more touristy area in the northeast section. Many ethnic Chinese from Vietnam and Cambodia (who can speak Cantonese and Chaozhou dialects of Chinese) also own and operate bazaars in Chinatown, which are popular destinations, essentially selling low-quality merchandise at terribly low prices —with products as varied as cheap woodsilk towels, sandal wood soaps, apparel, and toys—that undercut long established American-born Chinese families who have had deep roots in Chinatown since the establishment of the original community. In terms of Chinese cuisine restaurants, the range of restaurants include several Cantonese seafood restaurants and delis as well as several handful of other eateries offering strictly Americanized Chinese food. Eateries offering Vietnamese cuisine are also very common throughout Chinatown. Chinatown is home to several family and regional associations and general service organizations for old-timer immigrants (called in Cantonese lo wal cue) as well as ones founded by and for the new immigrants from Southeast Asia. The enclave contains Buddhist temples, Chinese Christian church (with services conducted in Cantonese), and even a temple devoted to the Chinese Goddess of the Sea.

New "Chinatowns" for the Chinese immigrants (as opposed to L.A. tourists) have been developed in the Los Angeles suburbs of Monterey Park and San Gabriel (see below for the sections entitled San Gabriel Valley and Orange County).

Orange County
Irvine

The southern Orange County city of Irvine, located several miles south of Disneyland, contains yet another suburban-style but much smaller Taiwanese-dominant commercial and cultural center with several strip malls containing mostly businesses operated by and geared to the Mandarin-speaking immigrant community. It is on Culver Drive. 99 Ranch Market and Sam Woo Restaurant are the most frequented businesses in the area.

One of the primary reason for major Taiwanese settlement in Irvine is simply that the top-rated University High School and University of California, Irvine (UCI) are major draws for several affluent Taiwanese immigrant parents. Incidentally, Asian Americans form the majority of UCI's undergraduate student population. Indeed, Irvine's Chinese American population has grown significantly over the years. Pao Fa Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Western Hemisphere, has been opened.

Westminster

A suburban enclave in Orange County where ethnic Chinese from Vietnam congregate is called Little Saigon and it is located on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster, which has served as an alternative to Los Angeles' Chinatown, with its numerous supermarkets and stores. In the 1980s, it was originally envisioned by developers as a new "Chinatown" or "Asiatown" (in order to be more inclusive and profitable), but the name "Chinatown" would have been unfair to its much larger predominant and politically influential ethnic Vietnamese population, so it has been designated a "Little Saigon" instead. The Vietnam-born ethnic Chinese developers originally founded it and entrepreneurs own shops and eateries there. Many of the ethnic Chinese residing in Little Saigon are especially of Teochew stock, although many also conduct business in Cantonese Chinese. The funding for the development of Little Saigon's strip malls and shopping centers especially came from Chinese investors in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Some strip malls in the area have Chinese influences, including a strip mall with a wooden paifang leading to its parking lot as well another plaza containing a court of statues of Confucius and his disciples handcrafted in and imported from Mainland China.

San Diego
San Diego had a historic Chinatown founded in the 1870s, formerly around Market Street and Third Avenue, that has faded over time. In 1987, due to its historic and cultural value, the city council of San Diego sought to preserve the area and officially designated it the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District, which overlaps the burgeoning and gentrified Gaslamp Quarter (the center of the San Diego's trendy nightlife scene). The annual San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Faire is presented in this particular district.

While there is no bustling traditional Chinatown à la the counterparts in Los Angeles or San Francisco, the closest equivalent that the San Diego area has is an Asian enclave found about 10 miles north of downtown. Centered around Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Convoy Street in the suburban Clairemont Mesa neighborhood, one can find pan-Asian strip malls and restaurants, including an indoor mall anchored by 99 Ranch Market and Sam Woo Restaurant as well as another mall containing a Mitsuwa market. The area is quite culturally diverse, comprised of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese business. This area serves as a cultural point for Chinese Americans living in the San Diego area and for those San Diego residents and visitors needing a fix of fairly decent Chinese food, or other Asian ethnic cuisines such as Vietnamese pho and Japanese sushi. One can also catch up on news in Chinese-language newspapers, particularly the Los Angeles edition of World Journal.

San Gabriel Valley
See Southern California Chinatowns

In the Greater Los Angeles area, there are several suburban "Chinatowns" throughout the San Gabriel Valley region. These are not really referred to as "Chinatowns" per se, but generally by the city's name. This region has receive significant attention by the media and scholars as the cities therein contain the sole Asian majority populations - consisting largely of a foreign-born ethnic Chinese population from various countries - in the continental United States.

In a sense, the old Chinatown of Los Angeles has ceased to be the economic and cultural node for the local Chinese American community within the Los Angeles area, with a diversity of Chinese immigrants from Taiwan, Mainland China, and Vietnam. There are also smaller, but still substantial, numbers of Chinese immigrants hailing from Hong Kong as well as ethnic Chinese from Indonesia, Myanmar, and South Korea. In addition, the region has also been considered by food critics—for example, of the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic Monthly—as having some of the best Chinese cuisines in the nation due to the large variety of competing Chinese restaurants (whereas there are very few authentic Chinese restaurants in the more well-known Los Angeles Westside).

The region also features the large Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, among the largest Buddhist temples. As a result of the large Chinese diaspora living in the region, the Kee Wah Bakery chain of Hong Kong and Taiwan operates its prime U.S. locations mostly in the Greater Los Angeles' San Gabriel Valley area.

Monterey Park

The suburban city of Monterey Park, nicknamed "Little Taipei", was among the first satellite Chinatowns to be developed. It was settled in the late 1970s and once contained a large Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese population, but due to the in-migration of established Taiwanese immigrants to other suburbs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their numbers have dwindled and the Cantonese-speakers have gradually become predominant and significant in the city. With its growing population, Monterey Park also received media attention in a 1985 article in Forbes magazine.

Since the mid-1980s and on, Monterey Park has experienced continual immigration of working-class mainland Chinese and Vietnamese Chinese. In this city and adjacent areas, the number of Taiwanese-owned businesses actually began to decline and there are several Chinese Vietnamese-owned businesses, such as restaurants and supermarkets. Countless Chinese-owned businesses owned by the pan-Chinese diaspora (Hong Kong Chinese, Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese, and Indonesian Chinese) occupy nearly the main thoroughfares of the city, namely Atlantic Boulevard (a collection of strip malls) and eastward on Garvey Avenue, mostly featuring classic 1950s-era storefronts with common parking areas found in the rear. There are many popular competing large Hong Kong seafood restaurants found within the city, such as NYC Seafood. The branch of New Concept, an upscale dim sum chain of 28 restaurants based in China, operates in Monterey Park. Today, Chinese business throughout Monterey Park is now generally conducted in Cantonese, with some exceptions where it may conducted in Mandarin.

Alhambra To the north of Monterey Park, the satellite Chinatown in the city of Alhambra has rapidly grown during the 1980s. With an Asian descent population of 47.2%, the area on Valley Boulevard is lined with numerous Chinese-owned banks, restaurants, bakeries, cafés, and other assortments of Chinese retail and boutiques. The municipalities of Alhambra and San Gabriel also jointly hosts the annual San Gabriel Valley Lunar New Year Parade and Festival (the fourth largest celebration in the U.S., after those in the old Chinatowns of San Francisco, Manhattan, and Los Angeles). The LA edition of the major Hong Kong news paper Sing Tao Daily used to be based in Alhambra, as was cooking sauce manufacturer Lee Kum Kee, before their relocations to a new facilities near Chinese-dominated Rowland Heights, California to the east.

San Gabriel The adjoining neighboring city of San Gabriel, with 48.9% population of Asian descent, has a mix pan-Chinese community in the area, while the "Chinatown" in the city of Los Angeles remains tiny, touristy, and Cantonese-speaking. The area also on Valley Boulevard started off as an area serving Chinese Vietnamese refugees but it has grown to include a mix of trendy and utilitarian businesses owned by Taiwanese, Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, and ethnic Vietnamese immigrants. It is among the largest suburban "Chinatown" business districts in California and a large shopping complex anchored by 99 Ranch Market is among the highly popular landmarks in the area (a panoramic pic of this retail center is viewable on www.milpitasquare.com/San Gabriel Square at Dusk.htm). The city serves somewhat as a buffer zone or convergence, since residentially, a significant number of wealthy Taiwanese immigrants reside in the upscale community of San Marino (bordering north of San Gabriel) and the blue-collar Chinese Vietnamese live in working-class Rosemead (located south and east of San Gabriel).

Arcadia

The city of Arcadia has an emerging Taiwanese commercial district south on Huntington Drive, on Baldwin Avenue. The area already contains several supermarkets. The only U.S. branch of the Taipei-based dumpling restaurant Din Tai Fung operates in the Los Angeles area, specifically in Arcadia.

Rowland Heights

Another so-called suburban "Chinatown," so to speak, includes the Taiwanese-driven Rowland Heights (approximately 20 miles east of the Los Angeles Chinatown) with its fragmented smattering of shopping centers, concentrated on Colima Road (approximately between Fullerton Road and Nogales Avenue). After the mass exodus of Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese Americans from Monterey Park in the late 1980s and 1990s, the Los Angeles edition of the Chinese-language paper World Journal dubbed Rowland Heights the "new Little Taipei." There are also several large Taiwanese origin populations living in nearby hillside residential communities, although many Mainland Chinese, Korean Chinese, and ethnic Korean immigrants reside there as well. Rowland Heights serves as the main business district. The Chinese strip malls are mixed with separate strip malls containing Korean American businesses. Just off the main Colima Road corridor in Rowland Heights, the neon-lit and highly packed Diamond Plaza is an especially vibrant two-story strip mall containing businesses - restaurants, tea places, bakeries, pool hall, and boutiques - geared towards both immigrants from Taiwan as well as American-born Chinese. Additionally, more and more Asian businesses are occupying other strip malls in Rowland Heights and adjacent Hacienda Heights, California formerly filled with chain and independent stores that catered to the general population but have since gone out of business, making this a hybrid "Chinatown"/Koreatown".

Outside these main suburban Chinatown areas, there are also many isolated pockets of authentic Chinese strip-malls, restaurants, and supermarkets scattered in parts of the San Gabriel Valley, which cater solely to the local Chinese immigrant community.

San Luis Obispo
There is a nearly-forgotten "Chinatown" from the middle 1870s on Chorro Street and Palm Street in the Central Coast town of San Luis Obispo. An early Chinese store was owned by early Chinese immigrant pioneer and influential community leader Ah Louis. It is now considered a historic relic. Also, many Chinese artifacts of the community have since been discovered during excavations. Railroad Square features a statue that honors the Chinese immigrant laborers who worked on the railroads in the vicinity of San Luis Obispo.

Colorado

Denver
In Denver, there is an informal Chinatown at South Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue with a mix of Chinese and Asian grocery stores, restaurants, and businesses to serve the Asian communities located there. The Denver area has numerous Chinese and Asian grocery stores and restaurants. There are also Chinese cultural centers, Chinese churches, and a growing number of Chinese language schools. The Denver area has two Chinese newspapers, the Chinese American Post and the Colorado Chinese News.

Florida

Miami
Miami has an informal yet prominent "chinatown". Located at NE 167th Street and 163rd Street, between NE 6th Avenue and NE 19th Avenue in North Miami Beach. The location of the area right next to the sea on an inlet and in a central location in South Florida is said to be the reason for its emerging prominence in the Asian community. It is known as the business center of Miami-Dade's growing Indian American, Indo-Caribbean American and Chinese American communities. In recent years the whole Miami area has seen a huge increase in Chinese immigrants amongst other Asian communities and North Miami Beach has been the most affected by this. While called "Chinatown," the area is also the center of other Asian communities such as Indian, Korean, Filipino, Korean and Vietnamese.

Georgia

Atlanta
In the Atlanta area, fledging new pan-Asian shopping centers are on Buford Highway in the suburb of Doraville. While the city of Atlanta proper does not have a traditional "Chinatown" or "Koreatown" as such, this area has become unique. The area started as Korean immigrant neighborhood, but refugees from Southeast Asia began arriving and established Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants started moving away from traditional coastal immigrant urban centers, such as California. Additionally, many Chinese immigrants from Taiwan were especially drawn in large numbers to Atlanta when the Taiwan-based television manufacture Sampo established a branch in the Atlanta area in the 1970s, thus creating a significant demand for Chinese foods and services.

However, with a mix of ethnic Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese populations, the official name is the International Village. While the area is pan-Asian in general, it is also pan-Chinese in itself with many businesses and shopping centers invested, owned, or staffed by Taiwanese and by overseas Chinese immigrants from various countries (namely Vietnam, Indonesian, and Thailand). The variety of strip malls sport Asian names, bringing the area a unique multicultural character and experience. It is also generally unlike a traditional Chinatown, as strip malls remain scattered apart.

In the 1970s and 1980s, just prior to the incoming of the Asian immigrants, local employer General Motors laid-off thousands of workers in the area and light manufacturing began shuttering, thus resulting in blight. For several years, several shopping centers and strip malls - mostly of the 1950s and 1960s era - were abandoned and neglected by previous owners. New capital by Asian investors have helped greatly contribute to the revitalization of the area. The area has grown a great deal, now the international Chinese-language newspaper World Journal maintains a regional Atlanta office in Doraville. Interestingly, as with Bellaire Boulevard in Houston, Texas, the area on Buford Highway has the highest concentrations of Asian businesses and it is definitely one of a kind in southeastern Dixie.

Hawaii

Honolulu
The official and historic Chinatown of Honolulu, on North Hotel Street and Maunakea Street, contains traditional ethnic Chinese businesses. Unlike Chinatowns in the continental United States which were largely pionered and dominated by Taishan immigrants, Honoulu's Chinatown was started by early settlers from Zhongshan, Guangdong province in the 1890s. They migrated to Hawaiia for work in the island's cane sugar plantations as well as rice fields and then as they became successful eventually relocating to the city of Honolulu. As with other Chinatowns in the United States, it was noted for its unsanitary conditions. In the 1940s, it degenerated into a red-light district.

Today, it is also diverse with Pan-Asian and Pacific Islander businesses and the ethnic Chinese from Vietnam are largely demographically represented in Honolulu's Chinatown. Businesses include markets, bakeries, Chinese porcelain shop, and shops specializing with gingseng herbal remedies). In Chinatown, there are also bazaars and street peddlers in the Kekaulike Mall (located on Kekaulike Street) bringing it unique bustling ambiance to the community. The variety of restaurants serving Hong Kong-style dim sum and others in Vietnamese beef noodle soup are frequent in Chinatown. The history of Chinese revolutionary Dr. Sun Yat-sen - himself hailing from the Zhongshan region of Guangdong province of Mainland China - is tied to Hawaii, having receiving his Western education there. Chinatown, Honolulu was once served as the base of operations in a series of crusades against ruling Qing Dynasty in China that culminate in the Revolution of 1911. There is a monument in his honor in Honolulu's Chinatown. Vibrant Chinatown maintains its historic atmosphere but concurrently it is also undergoing gentrification. The commerce and cultural activity in the community is conducted by ethnic Chinese who immigrated from Vietnam. Most wealthy Chinese reside in Hawaii Kai, Hawaii.

Illinois

Chicago

The Chinatown in Chicago is a traditional urban Chinatown occupying the area along Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road south of downtown. This area has historically been dominated by commerce, though in recent years, residential developments have greatly increased the number of people living in the area. With restaurants, markets, shops, associations, and community services, this original Chinatown particularly attracts Chinese emigres hailing from China. The annual Chinese New Year and Chinese Double Ten Day Parade are held in Chinatown.

Chicagoans also refer to a Southeast Asian community on Argyle Street in the north side as the "New Chinatown", or alternately, as "Little Chinatown". But at this point, this "new" chinatown still pales in size and scope to the more traditional chinatown. This so-called "Chinatown" is actually inhabited by the minority ethnic Chinese who were born in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Louisiana

New Orleans
The first original Chinatown of New Orleans existed on Tulane Avenue and South Rampart Street in the Faubourg Ste. Marie quarter from the 1870s until the 1930s and most of the original Chinatown buildings were razed in the late 1950s. A newer, synthetic "Chinatown" was developed in 2003 on Behrman Highway in suburban Terrytown.

Maryland

Baltimore
There existed a "Chinatown" on Park Ave. in Baltimore, which was dominated by laundries and restaurants, but there are very few remains of the community these days as there are many abandoned buildings.

Also, an extension of Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown exists in Rockville, Maryland, near Maryland Route 355 (Rockville Pike) with Taiwanese businesses.

Massachusetts

Boston

The sole established Chinatown of New England is in Boston, on Beach Street and Washington Street near South Station between Downtown Crossing and Tufts Medical Center. There are many Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian and Vietnamese restaurants and markets.

In the pre-Chinatown era, the area was settled in succession by Irish, Jewish, Italian and Syrian immigrants as each group replaced another. Syrians were later succeeded by Chinese immigrants, and Chinatown was established in 1890. From 1960s-1980s, Boston's Chinatown was located near the Combat Zone, which served as Boston's red light district, but sandwiched between the dual expansions of Chinatown from the East and Emerson College from the West, the Combat Zone has shrunk to almost nothing.

Currently, Boston's Chinatown is experiencing a threat from gentrification policies as large luxury residential towers are built in and surrounding an area that was overwhelmingly three, four, and five-story small apartment buildings intermixed with retail and light-industrial spaces.

In recent years, a newer magnet for Chinese commercial enterprises and residents (whereas calling it a "Chinatown" may still be premature) in the Greater Boston area has been rapidly emerging approximately 10 miles to the south on Hancock Street in suburban Quincy, due to the rapid influx of Mainland Chinese immigrants from the province of Fujian (many of whom are speaking the local Fujianese dialect of Chinese in addition to regular Mandarin Chinese) as well as a large growing Vietnam-born Chinese population. There are already several large Asian supermarket enterprises such as the major Kam Man Foods - located in President's Plaza - and Super 88 supermarket chains, and other businesses and social services that are giving the old Chinatown in downtown Boston a run for its money. Several businesses operating in Boston's Chinatown now have extensions in Quincy, as many are increasingly priced out of original Chinatown due to high rents there. Local businesses that once catered to gwai lo residents also now have services and signage in Chinese.

Michigan

Detroit's Chinatown was originally located at Third Avenue and Bagley, now the permanent site of the MGM Grand Casino. In the 1960s, urban renewal efforts, as well as the opportunity for the Chinese business community to purchase property led to a relocation centered at Cass Avenue and Peterboro. However, Detroit's urban decline and its Chinese population, primarily consisting of elderly single males, led to the new location's demise, with the last remaining Chinese food restaurant in Chinatown finally shut its doors in the 1990s. Although there is still a road marker indicating "Chinatown" and a mural commemorating the struggle for justice in the Vincent Chin case, nothing else actually remains of the community.

In the meantime, a new suburban Chinese community, founded by later waves of immigrants and mixed with Taiwanese and Vietnamese businesses, has emerged in several strip malls along both John R Road and Dequindre Road in the suburb of Madison Heights. This Chinese business district is now sprawling at least 3 miles in length. Some examples of retailers on the John R corridor are China Merchandise, Saigon Market, and Oriental Market, and cultural events are often held at the Chinese Community Center. Furthermore, nearby suburb Troy has also been an epicenter for the Chinese community. Many Taiwanese and Cantonese speaking Chinese are living in the community. Oriental markets, restaurants and cultural stores are present. Also, many schools in the Troy area are now adapting to the younger generation of Chinese children and offering Mandarin language programs.

Missouri

St. Louis

An original Chinatown, also called "Hop Alley", was in the city of St. Louis, Missouri before it was eventually replaced by Busch Stadium in the 1960s. During its prime, it had a plethora of hand laundries, but later Chinese restaurants became the primary economic source. By that time, attempts at establishing another Chinatown largely met with failure. This partly attributed to the fact that American-born Chinese descendants of the original settlers were fanning out throughout St. Louis and taking on mainstream careers than to slave away in their families' businesses.

Since the early 1980s, something short of a new "Chinatown" or basic Chinese businnes district has been taking shape in the St. Louis suburb of University City, Missouri on Olive Boulevard, approximately between 81st Street and McKnight Road. The business district of University City was once rundown but later waves of immigrants have come in and revitalize the area with a large number of Chinese and pan-Asian restaurants, grocers, bakeries and immigrant-run health services. However, it is not as comparable or extensive as the other Midwest Chinatown, Chinatown, Chicago. There have been some conflict over the proposed name of "Chinatown." In 2002, it was met with stiff opposition by some African - American residents and was also rejected by the city planning commission and, so instead, the name "U-City Olive Link" has been given to reflect and represent the cultural diversity of area. Chinese restaurants in the area include Lulu's Seafood Restaurant and Won Ton King. Now steamy dim sum and a boba beverage are not difficult to find in the St. Louis area as such foods are available in the U-City Olive Link.

Although Olive Boulevard in University City is considered the main business center of Chinese Americans these days, the actual Chinese diaspora population tends to be spread throughout St. Louis area. Other Chinese immigrants with fairly substantial demographic representation in St. Louis include Vietnamese Chinese and Korean Chinese.

Nevada

Las Vegas
The only Chinatown in Las Vegas was initially just a large shopping center called "Chinatown Plaza." It is the so-called "first master-planned Chinatown in America" with the Chinese American supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market serving as its anchor. The plaza location is west of the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15 at 4255 Spring Mountain Road, just outside the casino areas in what is a typical American neighborhood. However, as the Chinese American community continues to grow in Las Vegas (Las Vegas is itself the fastest-growing city in the U.S.), many adjacent shopping centers have been developed while others are still in the planning and development stages. The area has become more competitive as the large Shun Fat Supermarket mega-store opened its doors in the Japanese-styled Pacific Asian Plaza in Chinatown in the early 21st century as well as other adjacent power centers. Still, Chinatown Plaza is considered the nucleus of the growth and provides a crucial source of ethnic goods, services, and cultural activities to sustain the Asian American households of Las Vegas. In addition to Chinese, people also find a variety of Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Thai, and Malaysian flavors that dominate this retail strip of Las Vega. As part of Las Vegas's casino economy, a special Asian themed casino and resort called Dragon City will be in development across the street of original Chinatown Plaza. Another similar development called Korea Town Plaza is expand and diversify the Asian commercial areas.

First built in early 1995, the infrastructure of Chinatown closely resembles many of the suburban Chinese business districts—-that is, massive shopping centers and mini-malls with generously huge parking lots-—found in the Chinese suburbs of California. Chinatown was generally made possible by the expansions of popular and successful Chinese retail and eatery enterprises already operating in the various Chinese-dominant communities in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, with varied businesses such as Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant, Kim Tar Seafoog Restaurant, Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant, Diamond Bakery, and America Asia Travel Center. However, it also has had the distinction of being officially designated a "Chinatown" by the governor Kenny Guinn and by city of Las Vegas with parking areas allotted for buses as well. (The Chinatown has its own designated exit off-ramp sign on Interstate 15.) Furthermore, the Chinese American population tends to be somewhat more dispersed throughout Las Vegas than in Southern California.

New Jersey

Edison
The Chinese population is fast-growing in New Jersey. There is now a booming new Chinatown with several authentic Chinese restaurants, banks and Asian supermarkets cropping up in suburban Edison on Route 27. An annual Chinese New Year event also takes place in this area. Over the past few years, many a Mainland Chinese immigrant professional have been moving away from the overcrowded New York City area (particularly Flushing, Queens and the rather clumsy and unwieldy Chinatown in Manhattan) and relocating to Edison, which is considered one of the most ethnically diverse suburban communities in New Jersey.
Newark
Chinatown, Newark was a Chinese enclave in Downtown Newark, New Jersey that thrived in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and was centered around Mulberry Arcade.

New York

New York City
New York City in particular contains a strong mainland Chinese presence. The Chinese that settle in New York City are often undocumented immigrants from the Fujian province of China. Although the Min-nan dialect (Hokkien) that they speak is similar to that spoken by the Taiwanese (Hoklo), there is relatively little social interaction between Fujianese and Taiwanese and indeed between the Fujianese and professionals and students from Mainland China. Although they would ordinarily have very little chance of gaining legal status, a large number of Fujianese benefited from the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1993 which granted permanent residence to PRC nationals in the United States as of 1990 regardless of whether they were students or not. Furthermore, the Cantonese-speaking population has also perceived the Fujianese as bringing crime and other social problems to Chinatown.

Chinese from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam—as well as ethnic Lao, Khmer, and ethnic Vietnamese—also settled New York as Vietnam War refugees. While Mainland Chinese are among the most visible and influential presence within the Chinese communities in New York City, the city is also home to ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, whom originally arrived as day laborers for construction work in Chinatown and Flushing. Today there are several Malaysian Chinese restaurants in the Chinese community of NYC.

Many Chinese New Yorkers also include people whose parents or grandparents were from or born in Latin America. The most important Chinese Latin American populations are Chinese Puerto Ricans who are natural-born Americans of Chinese descent, Chinese-Cubans who fled from the Fidel Castro regime, and Chinese Peruvians who immigrated during the Velasco era and in the aftermath of a major Peruvian earthquake. Large numbers of Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Malaysians, Indonesians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders (mostly Hawaiians, Guamanians, and Samoans) also settled New York's Chinatowns.

Manhattan
The old Chinatown of New York City is centered around the junction of Canal Street and Mott Street in Manhattan, but at least four other Chinatowns have cropped up in other parts of New York City. The second oldest Chinatown is on Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street in Flushing, Queens, and a third one is in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn around 50th to 65th Streets along 8th Avenue. A fourth and rapidly growing Chinatown is in Elmhurst, Queens, north of Queens Blvd, and a fifth and newest one is cropping up in Brooklyn, see below. The original Chinatown of NY began in the middle 1800's along Mott Street south of Canal. North of Canal was Little Italy, but this is now largely vacated by Italian Americans as they headed to the suburbs, leaving Chinatown to spread out along both sides of Canal. Chinatown is also growing rapidly into the formerly Jewish sections of the Lower East Side, near and under the Manhattan Bridge. The Chinatown of Manhattan ranks with the Chinatown of San Francisco as being the two oldest and largest Chinese communities in the USA. Manhattan's Chinatown is further subdivided and segregated into several smaller communities such as "Little Fuzhou" or "Fuzhou Street" (on East Broadway) because of the high prevalence of Fujianese Mainland Chinese immigrants—who speak Hokkien Chinese—in the area. As a sign of its emerging prominence, Manhattan's Chinatown has also been featured in several films and television.
Queens
New York being an exception to many things, Flushing, Queens is hardly suburban, and Manhattan Chinatown still has many Chinese markets and other businesses, as well as a large Chinese-American population, including first-generation immigrants who speak little or no English and work in garment factories in the neighborhood. On the other hand, Flushing has more Taiwanese immigrants and businesses while the working-class Manhattan Chinatown remains Cantonese and Fujianese. With a distinctive Taiwanese character, many businesses in Flushing are concentrated in many older downtown-style buildings along Roosevelt Avenue, with more shops and businesses (for example, karaoke and boba drink places) catering to younger customers than in the grimy original Chinatown. Mainland Chinese immigrants have also made their way into Flushing. There are also many Koreans in the enclave as well. Another Chinese neighborhood in Queens is found along Broadway north of Queens Boulevard in the Elmhurst section, and began developing there during the 1990s.

Brooklyn
A relatively new Chinatown, perhaps only 15 years old, is in Sunset Park and has grown from a seedy, drunken neighborhood that had been virtually abandoned by its earlier immigrant settlers into a vibrant Chinese immigrant community with numerous businesses. "Brooklyn Chinatown" now extends for 20 blocks along 8th Avenue, from 42nd to 62nd Streets. With a booming population, the area is now extending into formerly Italian American communities such as Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. Poorer but yet entrepreneurial Chinese emigres from Mainland China were the first to set up shop in Sunset Park, but they have been joined by arrivals of overseas Chinese from Vietnam who have also establishing various businesses in the community. New York's fifth and newest Chinatown is currently growing in another section of Brooklyn, along Avenue U in the Homecrest neighborhood.

North Carolina

Charlotte
There are two small Chinatowns in Charlotte, one of which is on the corner of North Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road (Asian Corner Mall). The other one is on Central Avenue near Briar Creek Rd.

Central Avenue (near Briar Creek Rd.) is the original "Chinatown" consisting of "Saigon Square" and 2 other Chinese shopping plazas, which consists of "Dim Sum Restaurant" (which serves New York styled dim sum), "Eang Hong Supermarket", "Van Loi" (which serves cha shao), and at least 12 other stores. Saigon Square has various Vietnamese stores including Pho Hoa (Vietnamese noodles).

Asian Corner Mall on North Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road is the second Chinatown, developed from the defunct Tryon Mall in 1999, with "Dragon Court Restaurant", "Hong Kong BBQ", "International Supermarket", and "New Century Market" and several other Chinese/Vietnamese stores.

Ohio

Cleveland
Cleveland's Chinatown (often referred to as Asiatown) is one of several ethnic communities within the city proper, along with Little Italy and Slavic Village. The neighborhood is centered around St. Clair, Superior, and Payne Avenues just east of the central business district. The area also falls into the district limits of the Quadrangle which includes several colleges and mid-rise offices and light industrial areas. Several large Asian markets have opened in recent years, with at least two more under construction in 2007. Recently, the neighborhood has become a hot spot for warehouse conversions into residential lofts.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City's Chinatown, known as Asia District (or also the Asian District), represents a new trend in major cities in the United States that traditionally did not have a concentrated Asian population. Today's Asia District has transformed a once blighted urban area near Oklahoma City University north of downtown into a myriad of restaurants, Asian supermarkets, shoppes, and galleries popular with the rapidly growing mosaic of Asian residents of the city. Most of the businesses in the area, such as markets and restaurants, tend to be run by Vietnamese or Chinese American immigrants.

There are also a growing number of Asian businesses that are headquartered in Asia District and schools are beginning to devote resources to better connect with the local community.

The area began as a Little Saigon back in the mid-1980s due to the more than 17,000 Vietnamese refugees that inhabited the area at that time, but was recently renamed by the city to Asia District to better reflect the true colors of the neighborhood.

There is another smaller Chinatown area developing in the Southside of Oklahoma City as are sporadic strip malls throughout the metro area, a common trend among other major cities of North America. They serve the suburban populous with Asian supermarkets and shoppes so residents do not have to venture into the inner city for food or the usual goods. However, Asia District still remains as the focus of Asian culture in the city (and state), boasting the annual Lunar Year celebration and Mid-Autumn Festival as well as parades and other cultural events and activities.

There was once a historic Chinatown located in Downtown Oklahoma City, in tunnels under what is now the Cox Convention Center. The area was inhabited by the first Chinese immigrants who came to the area via the railroad around the 1950s.

Oregon

Portland
There is a Chinatown, on NW 4th Ave. just north of W Burnside St., in the Old Town Chinatown district of Portland. It is not very active and contains no actual Chinese markets. Unfortunately, many storefronts have remained abandoned for some time and only a few Chinese restaurants remain, including a historic chop suey restaurant. The building of the Portland chapter of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association still remains in Chinatown and it is open to the public. Indeed, unlike other Chinatowns in other cities, the population of Chinatown has not been renewed by later waves of immigration.

The Portland Classical Chinese Garden, located on NW 3st Ave. and NW Everett St., is also a major feature in Chinatown. It was designed by artisans from Suzhou, China.

There have been redevelopment proposals to turn Portland's Chinatown into an exotic ethnic playground for bok gwai revelers, which will possibly further dilute the Chinese character of neighborhood.

Given the expensive rents and tourist orientation of Chinatown and following the dual Chinatown pattern as present in several major metropolitan areas of North America, the thoroughfare of SE 82nd Ave. in Montavilla neighborhood of Portland is home to the city's newer Chinese business district, already with immigrant-oriented markets, Chinese seafood restaurants, and Vietnamese noodle eateries. It has been already picked up by the media as a "new chinatown". However, the Montavilla area is still marred by its moderate drug problems.

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

There is a Chinatown centered around Cherry Street and Race Street in Philadelphia. Over the years, parts of it kept being bought out for the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Vine Street Expressway. For the past few years, city officials have halted the buying up of Chinatown, particularly as a result of efforts by various yet unified coalition of grassroots groups (pan-ethnic, labor groups) working together to prohibit the conquest of Chinatown by white developers. Today it's growing fast, and spreading throughout Center City. Asian restaurants, funeral homes, and grocery stores are common sites. Philadelphia's Chinatown has residents mostly of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian peoples. Korean, Japanese, and Filipino are also very common. Chinatown contains a mixture of businesses and organizations owned by the pan-Chinese diaspora, as Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, and Malaysian Chinese residing in the Philadelphia area call Chinatown home.

The counties surrounding Philadelphia, especially Montgomery and Bucks counties are seeing Asian culture becoming significant. Places such as Bensalem Township, King of Prussia, the Main Line, and dozens of other cities and townships, are well-known Asian centers outside of Philadelphia's Chinatown. Bensalem Township and King of Prussia have large populations of Indians. Both cities have various Indian supermarkets, and retail. Korean and Chinese stores such as H-Mart, and the video store Woori also continue to pop up.

Pittsburgh

An old defunct Chinatown exists on Grant Street and Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh, where two restaurants still exist. The On Leong Society existed there. The presence of Chinese people in Pittsburgh has grown recently and they are now less restricted. Newer stores exist on Penn Avenue near 18th Street in the Strip District. Apartment dwellers live in various neighborhoods.

Texas

The state of Texas has its large numbers of communities ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, especially vis-a-vis other Chinese groups (for example, transplant Hong Kong Chinese and Mainland Chinese communities are not as strong nor is visble in Texas). Hence one will find many of the new “Chinatowns” in Texas that are actually pioneer, influenced, and is frequent by the Vietnamese Chinese population leading to an interesting mix.

Austin

A brand new Chinatown was constructed in 2006 on Lamar Boulevard, featuring a supermarket and 40 stores. The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Chinatown has proven to be a valuable addition to Austin and its Asian American communities. Asian grocer My Thanh Supermarket is the feature anchor of this special retail complex. It also hosts a variety of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and specialty shops. Cuisines offered in Chinatown include traditional Cantonese Chinese (won ton noodle soup, scrumptious roast duck, barbecue pork), Teochew Chinese cuisine and ethnic Vietnamese pho noodle soup. A grand Chinese-style arch, paifang, will be built to mark its entrance. As of October 2006, not every store is open yet.

(Source: http://www.chinatownaustin.com)

Houston

Yet another example of the new-Chinatown/old-Chinatown contrast is Houston, where there is an old and largely disappearing Chinatown near the Convention Center on Chartre Street and McKinney Street in Downtown Houston, and a new shopping center and strip mall-laden Chinatown on Bellaire Boulevard in the mostly suburban southwestern part of the city.

Houston's Chinatown is not as high-profile as others like it around North America. Chinatown in eastern downtown retains a few restaurants but no habitations. To reverse the decline of Chinatown in Downtown Houston, business leaders have attempted to lure tourists as plans have been drawn up to develop a Chinese paifang on McKniney Street as its entryway.

By the 1970s, most newcomer Chinese to Houston were initially from the Taiwan as businessmen from there came for the purposes of trading and wholesale. In the early 1980s, Bellaire Boulevard initially started off as a Taiwanese immigrant strip mall called Diho Plaza anchored by a supermarket, but it has since grown to also include countless businesses owned predominantly by ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs from Vietnam, giving it a unique "Vietnamese" distinction. Houston's new Chinatown was originally an attempt to duplicate the commercial developments of the suburban Taiwanese immigrant community of Monterey Park in the Los Angeles area. The most popular Chinese mall on Bellaire Boulevard is the indoor Hong Kong City Mall, which houses a market, karaoke, food court, boutiques, Vietnamese restaurants, and a Cantonese seafood restaurant. All these major developments on Bellaire Boulevard have overshadowed the very tiny traditional Chinatown.

Dallas/Ft. Worth

An emerging Chinese population in the Dallas area has established a number of Chinese supermarkets in the high-tech centered area, mainly in suburban Richardson and Plano, but there are no classic "Chinatowns" (a la San Francisco's) in the city. In Richardson, the “DFW Chinatown” strip mall on Greenville Avenue serves as the focal point for overseas Chinese residing in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, but at this point, the area has not matured enough to become a fully-fledged Chinese business district; that is, in comparison to the lengthy Chinese strip to be found on Houston's Bellaire Boulevard. The Greenville Avenue area in Richardson, however, does boast multiple Chinese bakeries that serve fresh steamed and baked buns daily, multiple bubble tea locales including the national chain "Lollicup", multiple dim sum restaurants, Asian supermarkets, a shaved ice, or "Chinese ice cream" shop, and many more restaurants featuring predominantly Taiwanese and Cantonese cuisine. There is also a Japanese style "Ichiban" candy shop located in this district as well. The area is composed of several Chinese/Asian strip malls that spans several blocks starting from the Central Expressway going East on Polk St, then North on Greenville Ave. Locally, many citizens of Asian descent refer to this district as "Chinatown".

Garland (DFW Area)
Garland has one to two miles of predominantly Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean strip malls along Walnut Street.
Plano (DFW Area)
Plano, which has one of the highest concentration of citizens of Chinese descent in the DFW area, has two Chinese districts. One at Legacy and Central Expressway, and also one at Park and Coit. The Central Legacy Plaza at Legacy and Central Expressway in Plano houses a small miniature indoor Asian mall that includes a bakery, Japanese style crepes shop, Chinese cosmetics store, Chinese herbal and medicine store, Chinese video store, the large grocery store Asian World Market, and some other shops. Outside in the rest of the strip mall are a collection of restaurants that feature various different Chinese cuisines (Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Sichuanese), including a bubble tea cafe.
Metro DFW
There are several less notable smaller Chinese/Vietnamese Asian strip malls scattered throughout Irving (Beltline Road), Carrollton (Belt Line Rd at Josey Ln, Frankford Rd at Josey Ln), and Arlington (Pioneer Pkwy at New York Ave), TX as well.

El Paso

Archaeological work has been done to uncover the long history of El Paso's Chinatown, which stood from 1881 to around the 1920s. The area is significant in which it attracted a large number Chinese workers in the American Southwest and there a Chinatown sprung up.

Washington

Seattle
The rather large Chinatown of Seattle has been consolidated as the International District in the 1950s, which is a now concentrated pan-Asian business district enclave along with Vietnamese and other Asian-origin people within the city. In the 1980s, Vietnamese refugees and immigrants formed the nearby Little Saigon next to Chinatown. There has been some controversy over the name "International District", in which local Chinese American inhabitants do not embrace the term due to it being a perceived insult, and thus preferring "Chinatown" as a source of pride. Ethnic Chinese have protect the ban by claiming to have settled the area first and Chinese businesses being more dominant in the area. Other Asian groups have accepted the term for the sake of political correctness. This local debate gained some attention and was covered in a story on Fox News.

Every year in June, the Seattle Center and the Washington Chinese Art and Culture Committee hold the annual Chinese Culture and Arts Festival,along with many other Asian heritage celebrations.

Kent
A similar pan-Asian area, but not necessarily considered a "satellite Chinatown" per se, has proliferated in a form of a shopping center in the Seattle suburb of Kent. The name of the shopping center is Great Wall Mall which features ranch 99 market one of the main shopping stores for Asian Americans in the surrounding area.
Olympia
The historic Chinatown in the capital of Olympia disappeared by the 1940s. Three Chinatowns existed in Olympia after several relocations and the third Chinatown was at Water Street and 5th Avenue.
Spokane
A fair sized Chinatown existed in Spokane for years that started when the railroad came through in 1883. It consisted of a network of alleys between Front Avenue (today's Spokane Falls Boulevard) and Main Avenue that stretched east from Howard Avenue to Bernard Street about four blocks. The Chinese population gradually thinned out until the alley became practically abandoned by the 1940s. All the remains of Chinatown were demolished for parking for Spokane's Expo '74.
Tacoma
There was also a significant historic Chinatown located in the Opera Alley section of Downtown Tacoma. In 1885, as with some other Chinatowns in North America, disgruntled whites raid and burned down Chinatown during the "Tacoma Method". In commemoration of this tragic event, a special remembrance garden called the Chinese Reconciiation Park has been built a short distance away in 2003. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/garden03.shtml

Today, the Lincoln International Business District has the greatest Asian dominated business (although mostly Vietnamese in influence) in the inner city. There is a major Koreatown in South Tacoma and a small section of a fledgling chinatown area, both along South Tacoma Way. A large Khmer population lives within the city limits there is a Therevada temple which many of the Khmers from the surrounding areas go to pray and celebrate many festivals including Therevada New Years.

Washington, D.C.

The old Chinatown of Washington, D.C. is on I Street and H Street, from 5th to 7th St NW. Today, it has roughly 10 Chinese restaurants, mostly geared towards tourists. It has been part of a redevelopment movement occurring in the Downtown Washington, D.C. area. Mainstream restaurant and retail chains have mostly filled in Chinatown.

While D.C.'s original Chinatown is now in the hands of gentrifiers, the newer and dense suburban collection of Chinese retail, restaurant, and services is located about 20 miles to the north along Rockville Pike in Rockville, Maryland, where there is a large immigrant population from Taiwan as well as a collection of strip malls. Among the assortment of businesses operating in the more modern Chinese retail strip in Rockville (but not found in original and touristy Chinatown in D.C.) are Maria's Bakery & Cafe (a chain based in Hong Kong serving up Hong Kong hot milk tea) and the Taiwanese Ten Ren. Another popular Chinese restaurant to operate in Rockville is the Taiwan-based A & J Restaurant, which offers northern Mainland Chinese noodles and dumplings and also operates in other suburban communities in the U.S. (Los Angeles and San Jose metro areas). Bob's Noodle 66 in Rockville, specializing in Taiwanese specialities, has a nearly cult-like following among local Taiwanese immigrants.

References

Gallery of photographs

See also

External links to North American Chinatowns

Canada

United States

Further reading

  • Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada, David Chuenyan Lai, 1988
  • The First Suburban Chinatown: The Remaking of Monterey Park, California, Timothy P. Fong, 1994
  • San Gabriel Valley Asian Influx Alters Life in Suburbia Series: Asian Impact (1 of 2 articles), Mark Arax, Los Angeles Times, 1987

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