|Neighborhood of Boston|
A view from within Chinatown looking towards the paifang, 2008
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|Area code(s)||617 / 857|
|Alternative Chinese name|
Chinatown, Boston is a neighborhood located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is the only historically surviving Chinese area in New England with the demise of the Chinatown in Providence, Rhode Island after the 1950s. With a high population of Asian Americans living in this area of Boston there is a high abundance of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants located in Chinatown. It is one of the most densely populated residential areas and the center of Asian-American life in Boston. It borders Boston Common, Downtown Crossing, the Washington Street Theatre District, Bay Village, the South End, and the Southeast Expressway/Massachusetts Turnpike.
- 1 Demographics
- 2 History
- 3 Transportation
- 4 Health care
- 5 Community organizations
- 6 Urban policies
- 7 Buildings
- 8 Businesses/Work/Restaurant
- 9 Community events and celebrations
- 10 Satellite Chinatowns
- 11 Gallery
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Being a home and a gathering place for many immigrants, Chinatown has a diverse cultural and population. The total population in Chinatown is 4,444 according to the 2010 census data. It's almost a 25% increase since 2000, where there were only 3,559 people. The white population rose 241.7% from 228 in 2000 to 779 in 2010. The African American Population rose from 82 in 2000 to 139 in 2010, showing an almost 70% increase. The American Indian population dropped 75% from 2000-2010, going from 8 to 2 residents. The Asian population grew about 7.5% from 3,190 in 2000 to 3,416 in 2010. People who identified as another race grew from 18 in 2000 to 30 in 2010, which is an 66.7% increase. For those who identified as more than one race, that group grew from 32 in 2000 to 77 in 2010, which resulted in a 140.6% increase. With more white residents moving into Chinatown in Boston, and other places as well, there was worry over gentrification. However, the concern subsided with Asian population dropping to 46% in 2010. Another major concern is that historic towns and places are becoming more touristy and less cultural. Between Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Boston has shown the highest increase in non Asian residents moving in non family shared households with a 450% increase from 1990 to 2000.
As of 2010, the population of white residents in Chinatown has increased almost 4 times from 213 in 2000 to 752 in 2010 showing an 253% increase. The African American population above 18 has increased from 49 in 2000 to 102 in 2010, showing an 108% increase. The American Indian/ Alaskan Native population above 18 has shown a 75% decrease going from 8 residents in 2000 to 2 in 2010. In 2010 the Asian population has shown an 11% increase from 2,643 in 2000 to 2,939 in 2010. The total housing units in Chinatown has increased by 54% from 2000 to 2010. Chinatown went from 1,367 to 2,114 housing units. There has been an almost 50% increase in the occupied housing units in Chinatown from 2000 to 2010, going from 1,327 to 1,982. As with the increase in occupied housing units there has also been a 230% increase in the vacant homes going from 40 in 2000 to 132 in 2010.
Part of the neighborhood occupies a space reclaimed by filling a tidal flat; the newly created area was first settled by Anglo-Bostonians. After residential properties in this area became less desirable due to railway developments, it was settled by a mixed succession of Irish, Jewish, Italian, Syrian, and Chinese immigrants. Each group replaced the previous one to take advantage of low-cost housing and job opportunities in the area. During the late-nineteenth century, garment manufacturing plants also moved into Chinatown, creating Boston's historic garment district. The garment district was active until the 1990s.
In 1870, the first Chinese were brought from San Francisco to break a strike at the Sampson Shoe Factory in North Adams. In 1874 a lot of these immigrants moved to the Boston Area. As history and tradition refers to it many Chinese immigrants would set up what today is now known as Ping On Alley. On what is now Harrison Ave in Chinatown the first laundries opened. In 1875 as laundries were becoming more and more popular the first restaurant began to open "Hong Far Low" In the 1800s and the 1900s for many Chinese immigrants they came to Boston looking for work and new opportunities. Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which halted immigration of Chinese immigrants, and kept the population of Boston Chinatown mostly male.
In the 1950s, Chinatown saw a major increase in the population after the Exclusion Act was abolished in 1943. Construction in the late 1950s in Chinatown what is known as the "central artery" underwent construction affecting many homes and businesses in Chinatown. With the Mass Pike construction in the 1960s took away a lot of land from Chinatown for businesses after construction was done affecting many businesses and homes. Despite this the population continued to grow by at least 25% in Chinatown. During the late 19th century manufacturing plants began to emerge in Chinatown for the garment stores that were emerging. This became known as the historic garment district in Boston. This however only lasted until the 1990s due to rising prices of rent, property sales, and the removal of homeowners.
Negotiations[who?] resulted in the provision of funds for the construction of new community housing in Chinatown. During this period[when?], city officials also designated an area adjacent to Chinatown as Boston's red light district, also known as the Combat Zone. However, the Combat Zone, while still in existence, almost disappeared by the 1990s, due to many different reasons including city pressure, the rise of the marketing of movies on VHS home video, the move of night clubs to the suburbs where they became more upscale, and a general increase in property values, which encouraged building sales and the removal of former tenants. In the 21st century, much of the former Combat Zone has evolved into the Washington Street Theatre District.
Chinatown remains a center of Asian-American life in New England, hosting many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and markets. Chinatown is one of Boston's most densely populated residential districts, with over 28,000 people per square mile in the year 2000. Nearly 70% of Chinatown's population is Asian, compared with Boston's nine percentage of Asian Americans overall. Chinatown has a median household income of $14,289.
The traditional Chinatown Gate (paifang) with a foo lion on each side is located at the intersection of Beach Street and Surface Road. Once a run-down area housing little more than a ventilation-fan building for the Central Artery Tunnel, a garden was constructed at this site as part of the Big Dig project. The Gate is visible from the South Station Bus Terminal and is a popular tourist destination and photo opportunity. Offered by the Taiwanese government to the City in 1982, the gate is engraved with two writings in Chinese: “Tian Xia Wei Gong,” a saying attributed to Sun Yat-sen that translates to “everything under the sky is for the people,” and “Li Yi Lian Chi”, an ancient Chinese proverb meaning a good person is one who understands “Manner,” “Loyalty,” “Honesty,” and “Shame.”
The World Journal Chinese Daily Newspaper World Journal Boston is the largest and most read daily newspaper by the Chinese community. The non-profit community newspaper Sampan is published twice a month, and provides both English-language and Chinese-language news and information about Chinatown.
As of 2000[update] an area near Chinatown was also a red light district, located at the mouth of an expressway tunnel. Starting in 2005, community-based civilian "Crime Watch" volunteers patrol the streets every day, to discourage and report on crime. Boston's Chinatown has had issues with gang activity. In 1991, five men were shot and killed and a sixth man was wounded at a social club. The two gunmen were arrested in China in 1998 and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The MBTA Orange Line stops at Chinatown station and Tufts Medical Center station, located within and at the southern edge of the district, respectively. Boylston station on the MBTA Green Line is located just beyond the northwest corner of Chinatown. Just east of Chinatown, South Station is served by the MBTA's Red Line, Silver Line, and Commuter Rail. South Station also accommodates Amtrak long-distance rail to New York City and other cities on the Northeast Corridor, plus rail service to the west, including Chicago.
The bus terminal at South Station also handles regional buses to New England destinations, New York City, Washington DC, Albany (New York), and other destinations. The New England destinations include Concord (New Hampshire) and Portland (Maine). The regional and national bus companies include Greyhound Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Megabus, and Bolt Bus. In Chinatown itself, two Chinese-owned bus services (Fung Wah and Lucky Star/Travelpack) provide hourly connections with New York's Chinatown.
Entrance and exit ramps serving Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike are at the southern edge of Chinatown.
Tufts Medical Center occupies a large portion of the area and includes a full service hospital and various health-related schools of Tufts University including Tufts University School of Medicine, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
In addition, South Cove Community Health Center operates the Chinatown Clinic at 885 Washington Avenue. Volunteers founded South Cove in 1972 to provide better health care for Asian Americans in the Chinatown area.
The Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) is a community center that primarily serves the immigrant Chinese community of Chinatown. The mission of BCNC is to ensure that the children, youth, and families that they serve have the resources and support to achieve greater economic success and social well-being. For over 40 years, BCNC has served as a vital link for the Asian immigrant and Asian American community of Greater Boston. BCNC strives to provide the support and resources needed for participants to integrate into American society, while preserving the community's rich culture. Most of those served are immigrant Chinese, with low family incomes and limited English ability. BCNC is located in the heart of Chinatown at two sites. At 885 Washington Street, BCNC is part of the Josiah Quincy School building and, in 2005, BCNC created a permanent home at 38 Ash Street, a five-story community center and the first certified green building in Chinatown.
The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center is also known for their annual Oak Street Fair that occurs every autumn. The event is aimed towards children and families and includes a variety of activities like their famous watermelon eating contest, Chinese dancers, pony rides, arts& crafts and a variety of games. Every year thousands of people flock to the event to engage in fun, family activities while experiencing and celebrating the rich, vibrant Chinese culture present in Boston's Chinatown.  BCNC moved into its current building in 2005; the building meets the performance standards under the LEED Green Building Rating System.
The Chinatown Lantern Cultural and Educational Center was formed by the Chinatown Cultural Center Committee (CCCC) in order to address the longtime lack of a public library in the neighborhood (the Chinatown branch of the Boston Public Library was demolished in 1956 to make way for the Central Artery). The Reading Room opened in April 2012, and provided library services, educational workshops, and cultural events to the Chinatown community. The Reading Room had a rotating collection of approximately 8,000 books in both English and Chinese and also ran a small art exhibit gallery. The Reading Room closed on Feb 25, 2013.
The Chinatown community and extended communities of Chinese around Greater Boston (including North Quincy and Wollaston in Quincy) are serviced by the Asian Community Development Corporation.
In 2006 Mayor Menino of the city of Boston opened up an area formerly owned by the BRA (Boston Redevelopment Authority) and will be a new home to the nonprofit organization AACA (Asian American Civil Association, and the KKCS (Kwong Kow Chinese School. This new project will be an education center with these two groups teaming up. With this new addition of the education center this will include a day care center, a community room, classrooms, and office space. In the year 2014 The Boston foundation donated nearly 500,000 to many supports in the Boston Area. This was targeted towards summer programs and activities for the greater Boston Area. One of the many organizations that was funded during this time was Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. There are many more organizations included, but not limited to the following in the Chinatown area of Boston. Some of these places include the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), which helps preserves the Chinatown culture, youth development, and economic development. Another on the Chinatown programs is the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC), which helps provide child care, bilingual education, and youth recreation programs. There are many other programs and places in Chinatown, which provide community outreach and resources such as the Wang YMCA of Chinatown, the Chinese Progressive Association, and even the Asian American Civic Organization.
There are many Grassroots organizations in Chinatown as well such as the CPC (Campaign to Protect Chinatown, BCNO (Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Council, and more as well. With over 75 organizations in Chinatown and most being ethnically based and one of the major ones being the ACDC (Asian Community Development Corporation. The ACDC was established in 1987 and since then has worked on housing development, including the 2002 notable big dig construction to gain back a piece of land lost due to urban renewal called the Parcel 24. Even when Chinatown first came to Boston and was a cluster of merchants and shops, but slowly became one of the most culturally diverse areas. Even in the 1930s Chinatown focused on organizations for the youth such as the YMCA, Marching Band, and even Boy Scouts. in the 1930s there was a major development for culture and support for women in Chinese American girls.
One of the major difficulties facing Boston's Chinatown, as well as other ones such as in New York, is the issue of gentrification. Construction of new housing and repair of existing housing may occur, but if rental and purchase prices are raised, existing residents will be displaced. With property prices rising this changes the demographics of many areas and this is part of why even Chinatown is seeing more and more non Asian, and more white residents.
One of the major things that needs to be worked on and fixed in Chinatown is the upkeep of houses, keeping trash off the streets, and keeping the place up to date and new. With parts of Chinatown looking like they are falling apart, it almost implies a historical struggle for survival. According to Kairos Shen, a planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), "the fact that so many Asians — roughly 5,000 residents, according to US Census data, with the vast majority of them Chinese —– still call Chinatown home is no accident, resulting from a decades-long effort by the city to find a right balance between providing affordable housing and encouraging development projects aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood". The idea for Chinatown is to provide more affordable housing to make it seem less gentrified, since there are already a number of projects that have been worked on and are still being built.
Long time residents fear they may lose their home due to construction.One of the main goals of urban policy is to create and sustain businesses in Chinatown so residents have a place to work. In 2010 Chinatown was granted $100,000.[further explanation needed] This new development[which?] hopes to partner the BRA and the Asian American Civic Association (AACA) to address many issues Chinatown is facing. Some of these include a "project to help Chinatown businesses address the issues of rising energy, water, and solid waste management costs by providing practical and affordable solutions to help business owners save money and reduce environmental impacts, while building long term sustainable business expertise capacity in the community".
Also to note is the community involvement and programs to help jobs and community organizations as well. As of October 2014 many Boston residents including Chinatown residents received aid for jobs and support. As referenced by the BRA, "All told more than 200 Boston residents will receive job training under these grants". Many places and Businesses in Chinatown received funding through this grant. The AACA received $50,000. The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) received $50,000. Also the YMCA: Training In, which many Chinatown residents use received $50,000. Many projects have been and are still in works in Chinatown, such as "the 120 Kingston St. development (240 units), the Hong Kok House at 11-31 Essex St. (75 assisted living units), Kensington Place at 659-679 Washington St. (390 units and retail space), and Parcel 24 on Hudson Street (345 units), among others". However, not all of these units will be affordable and Asian American aimed as well.
Tunney Lee, a professor of architecture and urban studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he sees Chinatown maintaining its ethnic and economic character well into the future. “In-migration is still strong and keeping Chinatown vibrant,”. This allows and can make the culture and liveliness of Chinatown come back. These types of projects on housing aim to solve the issues of affordability and gentrification, which would keep pushing out Asian residents. Also mentioned by Tunney Lee "The various developments now under way in the area, while welcome and a sign of economic vitality, are “putting pressures on the neighborhood” and will lead to an influx of more non-Asian residents, Lee added. “But I think the number of Asian-Americans will stay constant as the total population goes up.”
As of 2014[update], Chinatown is experiencing gentrification. Large, luxury residential towers are built in and surrounding an area that was predominantly small three-to-five story apartment buildings intermixed with retail and light-industrial spaces. A property developer has purchased the Dainty Dot Hosiery building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, with plans to transform it into condominiums. Chinese community organizations such as the Asian Community Development Corporation are also building housing developments which offer mixed- and low-income housing.
The Hayden Building is a historic building at 681-683 Washington Street constructed in 1875 designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. It was added to the National Historic Register in 1980. It is the last remaining commercial retail building built by Richardson in Boston. It has been restored, and is being marketed to tenants as of 2014[update].
One of the major parts of Chinatown is the economy and coming seeing how from immigrants to today how the job market has grown along with how these immigrants made a life for themselves.From the early markets to the laundries that opened when the settlers first arrived in Chinatown. One of the major buildings that has a historical aspect is the Hayden Building. originally constructed in 1875 the Hayden Building is often a place to visit for history.Originally threatened with destruction this building was purchased by Mayor Menino and the city of Boston in 1993. Located on 681-683 Washington Street this building remains to be one of the last commercial stores for retail in Boston's Chinatown. On March 1, 2013 Mayor Menino along with Historic Boston Inc. teamed up to revitalize, refurbish. and reopen this building. With a contribution of $200,000, which is part of the Boston's and Chinatown's trilogy fund to raise $1 million for 3 projects, one of which is the Hayden Building.The bottom floor or this building has been redone as a Liberty Bank. In future projects costing $5.6 million will be used to turn the upper levels of this building into apartments.
Another notable shopping and food store in Boston's Chinatown is Kam Man Foods market. This store specializes in selling Chinese foods, spices, herbs, and more. Originally founded in 1972 this was the first Chinese supermarket located on the east coast. As mentioned by Business Online "Kam Man Food’s stores carry the widest selection of Asian and non-Asian food products including seafood and meats (freshly cut to your needs), fruits, vegetables, sauces, rice, cookies, candies, snacks, dry and fresh noodles, canned foods, teas and other beverages, seasonings, spices, and frozen foods including dumplings and ready-to-eat items. In addition to food products, Kam Man Food also offers Asian housewares and gift items. In certain of Kam Man Food’s retail locations, one can also find a food court, bakery and bubble tea counter." Located on 219 Quincy Avenue in Boston's Chinatown this shopping store is one the popular and culturally accurate stores in Chinatown serving the residents who live there.
Other notable places of business in Boston's Chinatown are the restaurants offered in town including the New Jumbo Seafood Restaurant. As one of the most popular places to eat and get seafood in Chinatown, New Jumbo Seafood Restaurant is an exotic eating experience for many residents of Chinatown with authentic Chinese cuisine. Other notable restaurants and places of business for Chinatown include, but are not limited to the following: China King, which offers affordable 3 course meals including peaking duck, Wai Wai, which offers ice cream and roasted meats, the Gourmet Dumpling house, which offers dumplings, and the Ho Yuen Bakery, which offers moon cakes and a variety of other pastries.
Community events and celebrations
A major part of Chinatown and the culture and history of this city is enclosed and celebrated by the people who live here. One of the many festivals is the August Moon Festival, which is one of the biggest held in the year. This festival is one that many tourists flock to every year for the festivities. As mentioned by WYGK publishing on Chinatown on this event: "they offer vendor booths for handmade items, culture and traditional items, food, desserts, and other items of value for the tourists and resident to purchase. They offer Chinese dough art for anyone who wants to partake, and learn the art. If you would like to see one of the best Chinese shows around, they also hold a Chinese Opera. Talent is also spread around at the festival with children’s Chinese folk dancing, martial arts performances, and lion dancers from around Chinatown and throughout the world who come just for the festival" This festival is often held in the middle of August and lasts usually for the entire day.
Another notable celebration that happens every year in Chinatown is the New Years Parade or also known as the "Lion Dance Festival". The Chinese New Year Parade marks the biggest annual celebration in Boston's Chinatown and each year a new animal of the Chinese zodiac is celebrated. The name "Lion Dance" came from the costumes worn by those in the parade that asre often represented as lions and dragons with traditional Chinese culture. The Lion Dance also refers to the traditional Chinese dance done and shown during the parade each year when it happens making this an event, which many flock to and go to see. In China, this celebration begins on the first day of the first month in the lunar calendar traditionally used in much of Asia. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year, but it is different in Boston's Chinatown based on when spring begins.
There are many other notable celebrations and community programs in Chinatown, which brings the community together. Some of the most notable and popular events and celebrations in Chinatown are: Fall Cleaning Day, which brings together the community to help clean up the town of trash and litter and is seen almost as Earth Day for Chinatown. Also the annual Lantern Festival is one of the largest tourist attractions with the lion dancers. This Festival includes Lion Dances, Asian folk dances, martial arts performances, and Chinese traditional singing. As the Chinatown community celebrates our ancestor's culture. There are many other community programs and events held in Chinatown annually, but the most noted are the New Years celebration, the Lion Dance Festival, and the August Moon Festival.
A new satellite Chinatown has emerged on Hancock Street in the neighboring city of Quincy, about 10 miles (16 km) to the south of the original Chinatown, due to a rapid influx of Hokkien-speaking Mainland Chinese immigrants from the province of Fujian, as well as a large and growing ethnic Vietnamese population. There are already several large Asian supermarkets such as the Kam Man Foods and Super 88 supermarket chains, and other businesses that are competing with Boston's Chinatown; also, several businesses operating in Chinatown now have branches in Quincy. The MBTA Red Line connects via either South Station or Downtown Crossing near Boston's Chinatown, to three rapid transit stations in Quincy, including Quincy Center station.
A similar but much smaller enclave has developed in Malden to the north of Boston. Malden Center station is directly connected via the MBTA Orange Line to Chinatown station, in the original Chinatown.
Cathay Bank in Boston's Chinatown, 2008
- Chinatowns in the United States
- Chinatown bus
- Chinese Progressive Association – Boston Chinese community service organization
- Interactive map of Boston's Chinatown[dead link]
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|This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (June 2015)|
- My legacy is simply this: stories from Boston's most enduring neighborhoods; Charlestown, Chinatown, East Boston, Mattapan, Boston, Massachusetts, US: City of Boston and Grub Street, Inc., 2008
- Stacey G.H. Yap, Gather Your Strength, Sisters: The Emerging Role of Chinese Women Community Workers (New York: AMS Press, 1989): Study of women community organizers in Boston's Chinatown
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chinatown, Boston.|
- Chinatown Heritage Project[dead link]
- The International Society records, 1978-2002 (bulk 1984-1998) are located in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Boston, MA.
- The Chinese Progressive Association records, 1976-2006 are located in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Boston, MA.
- Chinatown Profile Census 2000[dead link]
- Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
- Asian American Civic Association
- Asian Community Development Corporation
- Chinatown Main Street, a Boston Main Streets initiative
- Patriot Ledger Special Report: Chinatown South
- Boston Chinatown Pics
- Chinese Newspaper in Boston and Chinatown
- Chinatown Park