Asia District, Oklahoma City
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Oklahoma City's Asia District, also known as the Asian District, is the center of Asian culture and International cuisine and commerce in the state of Oklahoma. It contains the largest population of Asian Americans and descendants from Asia in the state.
Anchored by the Gold Dome and Classen Building at the intersection of Northwest 23rd Street and Classen Boulevard, and bordered by Oklahoma City University to the west and the Paseo Arts District to the east, the Asian district runs north along Classen Boulevard in central Oklahoma City from roughly Northwest 22nd Street up to Northwest 32nd Street.
The famous landmark "Milk Bottle Building" (built in 1910) is situated on Classen Boulevard and unofficially marks the entrance to the district. Scores of restaurants, travel outlets, international video stores, retail boutiques, nightclubs, supermarkets, and Asian-oriented service outlets appeal to Oklahoma City's large Asian populace and tourists alike.
The Vietnamese population has continued to grow since the first wave of immigrants were dropped just across the state line in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Relatives and friends have joined them in Oklahoma City as stories of success had reached the homeland in Vietnam, causing the population to explode. The original refugees made Oklahoma City their home thanks to a handful of activists who brought hundreds out of the camp. Each refugee had to have an American sponsor before leaving the Arkansas barracks.
The first refugees, most of whom did not speak English, left professional and military careers in Vietnam to become laborers – brick makers, builders and warehouse workers in Oklahoma City. In time, they became lawyers, doctors and engineers, sent their children to American colleges and started businesses in the Little Saigon portion of Asia District. They opened dental and chiropractor offices, nail salons and insurance agencies.
Immigrants also created a local chapter of the Vietnamese-American Association and the Vietnamese Buddhist Association, which recently broke ground on a new temple in Asia District.
Old Chinatown, Oklahoma City
The Little Saigon-influenced Asia District in North Central Oklahoma City is not the first Asian-enclave in the central Oklahoma area, as the city once had an original historic Chinatown in downtown. Artifacts were discovered in 1969 when excavation occurred for the Myriad Convention Center within the blocks bordered by Sheridan (Grand) Avenue, EK Gaylord Boulevard, Reno Avenue, and Robinson Avenue.
Historic Chinatown consisted of a tunnel system underneath buildings and streets in Downtown Oklahoma City, centered in the vicinity of Main and Grand Avenue (Sheridan), Broadway and Robinson Avenues, but the extent of which is unknown and likely lost forever.
- The Asian District is A Little Saigon, A Little Oklahoma Article about the district on OKC.NET
- Asia District website
- Super Cao Nguyen the state's largest Asian supermarket
- writeup on Oklahoma City's Asia District, from Noodles and Rice