Chinatown, St. Louis

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St. Louis Chinatown
Neighborhood of St. Louis
New and old Busch Stadiums, at the location of the old Chinatown
New and old Busch Stadiums, at the location of the old Chinatown
Coordinates: 38°37′38″N 90°11′52″W / 38.62722°N 90.19778°W / 38.62722; -90.19778
Country  United States
State Missouri
City St. Louis
Area code(s) Area code 314

Chinatown in St. Louis, Missouri, was a Chinatown near Downtown St. Louis that existed from 1869 until its demolition for Busch Memorial Stadium in 1966.[1] Also called Hop Alley, it was bounded by Seventh, Tenth, Walnut and Chestnut streets.[2]

In recent decades, efforts have been made to establish a new Chinatown in University City, Missouri, a first-ring suburb of St. Louis.[3]

Original St. Louis Chinatown[edit]

The first Chinese immigrant to St. Louis was Alla Lee, born in Ningbo near Shanghai, who arrived in the city in 1857. Lee remained the only Chinese immigrant until 1869, when a group of about 250 immigrants (mostly men) arrived seeking factory work.[4] In January 1870, another group of Chinese immigrants arrived, including some women.[5] By 1900, the immigrant population of St. Louis Chinatown had settled at between 300 and 400.[6] Chinatown established itself as the home to Chinese hand laundries, which in turn represented more than half of the city's laundry facilities.[7] Other businesses included groceries, restaurants, tea shops, barber shops, and opium dens.[8] Between 1958 and the mid-1960s, Chinatown was condemned and demolished for urban renewal and to make space for Busch Memorial Stadium.[2]

New Chinatown[edit]

A number of Asian grocery stores and restaurants exist along Olive Boulevard between I-170 and Skinker Boulevard in University City.[9] The route contains mostly Chinese businesses, rather than residents.[10] Although efforts were made to designate part of the area as "Chinatown", surrounding community members objected to the proposals.[3] Also, the Missouri Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over part of Olive Boulevard and does not permit decorative archways or gateways spanning the roadway, as can be seen in other Chinatowns.[3] As a result, there is no officially designated Chinatown in the St. Louis area.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ling, 16.
  2. ^ a b Virtual St. Louis: Chinatown Web site
  3. ^ a b c University City Olive Boulevard Design Guidelines
  4. ^ Ling, 26.
  5. ^ Ling, 27.
  6. ^ Ling, 30.
  7. ^ Ling, 36.
  8. ^ Ling, 43.
  9. ^ a b Riverfront Times, July 20, 2005.
  10. ^ KPLR, October 20, 2010.