Chinatowns in the United States

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Chinatown, My Chinatown.pdf
Cover of sheet music, published in 1910
Chinese 唐人街
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 中国城
Traditional Chinese 中國城
Second alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 华埠
Traditional Chinese 華埠

Chinatowns in the United States of America have existed since the 1840s on the West Coast and the 1870s on the East Coast. The Chinese were one of the first Asian groups to arrive in large numbers. Circumstances caused by the Korean and Vietnam wars, the 1965 Immigration Act, in addition to the desire for skilled workers caused more immigration from China and the rest of Asia. As of the early 21st century the Chinese are the largest of the Asian immigrant groups; and have been so for most of the history of the United States. As other immigrants of other countries arrive, Chinatown, the oldest of the Asian ethnic enclaves has become a pattern for other Asian enclaves such as Japantown, Koreatown, and Little India.[1] However, with the downturn of the U.S. economy and the rise of the Chinese economy, many Chinatowns in the U.S. have lost their initial purpose and started to decay with mass migrations back to China[2] and the suburbs[3] or have merely become historical centers and visitor attractions.[4]



Many U.S. Chinatowns originally house recent immigrants and unskilled laborers who do not have good English proficiency. Once Chinese American families obtain higher level working skills and/or better jobs, they often move out of Chinatowns. AsianWeek said that Chinatowns have a necessary role, but that the role also makes them vulnerable.[5] Peter Kwong, an Asian American Studies professor at the Hunter College in New York City, said that many Chinatowns are vulnerable to redevelopment that would destroy them, since Chinese people often have the least political power of all of the groups in a typical city government.[5]

Manhattan's Chinatown, home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere,[6][7][8][9][10] is the oldest of at least 9 Chinatowns in the New York City Metropolitan Area.
Distinctive Chinese-style architecture characterizes the streets of San Francisco's historic Chinatown, the oldest and one of the largest in the United States.


Chinatowns in the United States have historically been located in the "big cities" such as New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago and existed initially as enclaves that ease transition into the American culture. The earliest Chinatowns tended to be on the west coast while the newer ones are being built in lesser profile cities as opportunities shift. As the migration trends toward returning to China, many Chinatowns, especially smaller ones like the one in Washington, D.C., begin to lose their initial mission. Today, many urban Chinatowns in the United States are becoming visitor centers rather than serving as the ethnic enclaves they once were, although the rapidly growing satellite New York City Chinatowns in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn on Long Island represent a stark exception to this trend in North America, fueled by continuing robust levels of large-scale immigration from mainland China specifically directed toward New York.[11][12][13]

The significant timeline is as follows:


In general, Chinatowns are not necessarily the locations where significant Chinese populations occur as some are defunct and some are merely historical, such as the one in Washington, D.C.

The cities with the five highest Chinese American populations, with New York City comprising over half of the combined total, according to the 2010 United States Census, were as follows:


Chinatowns in the South-West of USA

The history of Chinese immigration into the then territory of Arizona, now the state of Arizona, spans from 1860 to 1911, specifically around the area of Prescott and Yavapai County. There was much cultural exchange between people non-Chinese and Chinese despite efforts of the Federal government stepping in. The non-Chinese populations of the area tended to be supportive despite the ongoing racism outside of this region and the legal aspects of the Exclusionary Acts of the 1880s.[15] In the modern era, after 1997, the Chinese culture in Arizona prevails in the form of the Chinatown themed mall and a cultural center in Phoenix.[16]


Jerome, Arizona had a small Chinatown in the 1870s.[17]


Sun Mercantile Building – South East Corner in Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix – Chinese immigrants working as railroad workers established the first Chinatown in downtown Phoenix at First and Adams Street in the present location of US Airways Arena. All building have been torn down except for the Sun Mercantile Building.[16] The Chinese in Phoenix's Chinatown lasted until the 1940s, at which point the population had scattered throughout the city.[18]


Prescott – Granite Street, between Goodwin and Gurley Street, was the location of a Chinatown and more than 200 Chinese during late 19th and early 20th century. The area was razed in 1934 in order to make room for new construction.[19]


Tucson – A Chinatown began to form in Tucson after the railroad arrived in 1880. Tucson's Chinese population was very small and never exceeded 2% of the city's population. The remaining and partly abandoned structures were demolished in 1968. However, in 1968 researchers discovered a complex called the "Ying On compound" still contained a group of working class elderly Chinese men.[20]


The Chinese arrived in Arkansas primarily after 1840 as the need for foreign labor grew to develop land west of the Mississippi River. The needs were primarily to fill roles of "... railroad workers, cooks, launderers, grain farmers, fruit growers, tide-land drainers, miners and other [jobs]"[21] Many Chinese settled between the 1870s and 1880s as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation to work the fields that were previously worked by the slaves of the South. By 1900, many of these people became small businessmen and owned grocery stores, laundries and restaurants and still reside in the area in the present day.[21]

Little Rock[edit]

In 1994, there was a proposal to build a Chinatown in Little Rock with support from investors in China, Japan, and other areas of Asia. The community supported the idea as it would bring diversity and prosperity to the area.[22] while providing a comfortable alternative to big city Chinatowns in New York and California with low cost of living. The idea did not follow through, and the proposal died.


Given its relative proximity to East Asia and Southeast Asia, California has the largest number of past and present Chinatowns among the American states, including the well-known Chinatown in San Francisco, an all-Chinese town of Locke built by Chinese immigrants, and Chinatowns in various cities throughout the state.


According to the Bakersfield Californian, the local newspaper of Bakersfield, the city had two Chinatowns, one which was referred to as "... Old Chinatown (generally located between 20th and 22nd, and between L and K streets) ... [and]... New Chinatown (the vicinity of 17th and 18th, Q and R streets)." The article talked much about the rivalry between the two Chinatowns that frequently had gang wars that often resulted in death. Although the people from both Chinatowns "... worked side by side, laying down rails, mining for gold and tungsten and, later, working in the fields, they rarely mixed socially," as the Chinese from the two distinct districts were from different regions of China that spoke different dialects. Bakersfield's Chinatowns were notable at the time for being the only Chinatowns co-existing in the same city.[23] [24]


Calico Ghost Town had its own Chinatown.[25]


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 Chinatown Revitalization Inc has been making several efforts to support the Chinatown of Fresno.

Gold Country[edit]

There were substantial populations of Chinese in the Gold Country region of Northern and Central California; the Chinese had served as miners and railroad workers. These settlements included Amador County's Chinatown, Chinese Camp, Fiddletown (which contains a museum operated in a former Chinese medicine store), Newcastle, and Truckee.[26] Truckee was once home to a Chinatown that burned to the ground.[27]


The town of Hanford, about 30 miles distance from Fresno, features a ramshackle 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.

Inland Empire[edit]

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.


Locke, 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. 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 Taishanese – 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 transitioning of the community into a tourist attraction.

Los Angeles[edit]

Los Angeles' first Chinatown existed to the east of the Old Plaza, but was razed in the 1920s and 30s to construct Union Station. 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 along Hill Street, Broadway and Spring Street near Dodger Stadium in downtown Los Angeles with restaurants, grocers, and tourist-oriented shops and plazas. A sculpture of dueling gold dragons spans Broadway and marks the entrance to Chinatown with a statue honoring the Kuomintang founder Dr. Sun Yat-sen adorning the northeast section. The enclave contains Buddhist temples, Chinese Christian church (with services conducted in Cantonese), and a temple devoted to the Chinese Goddess of the Sea. Chinatown is home to family and regional associations and general service organizations for long time immigrants (called in Cantonese lo wah cue) as well as ones founded by and for a second wave of Indochina-born immigrants after the Vietnam War ended. The area has largely been passed over though by the most recent waves of immigrants from Asia.

The day-to-day importance of Chinatown has shrunk as the San Gabriel Valley became the heart of the region's Chinese-American community over several decades. Chinatown has a rich history as one of the earliest parts of Los Angeles to be settled and has become attractive as it redevelops as part of downtown transformation. Investment by non-Chinese investors represents an "upward trajectory," but also "raises some unsettling questions about community identity and ... the future of ethnic Chinese" in Chinatown according to Michael Woo, a former Los Angeles City Council member.[28]


There is a "Chinatown plaza" called Milpitas Square located in the suburb of Milpitas. This Chinatown is an example of a Chinese-themed mall that is an "... an emerging trend in the South Bay – Asian-themed shopping plazas that serve a growing, middle-class Asian Pacific American community." This Chinatown generally serves as a satellite Chinatown of San Francisco. According to the Asian Week magazine, this shopping center is "... worth $35 million and still growing."[29]

Monterey Park[edit]

The U.S. city of Monterey Park, California has been called the nation's first suburban Chinatown. The Asian influx into Monterey Park portended extensive changes in communities across the San Gabriel Valley.[30]


Redding once had a Chinatown at "Piety Hill" that existed during the California Gold Rush era, around the 1850s. During this time, many laws were passed at all levels of government, federal, state, and local that created further hardships which included restricting immigration, extra taxes that only the Chinese people paid, and eventually a fee that diminished profits from gold mining. In 1886, Redding was host to an anti-Chinese meeting for action and to "...rid the city of the obnoxious Chinese Mongolians". A committee was appointed to evict the Chinese from Redding, at which point, Redding's Chinatown "... 'mysteriously' burned to the ground", at which point, almost all of Redding's Chinese left, leaving only very few to continue work. The only remnants of a once thriving Chinatown are "... a few stone walls they built for ranchers and landowners..." and "... the numerous Chinese locust trees, also known as Trees of Heavenly Light, a tree that was native to China...." [31]


Chinatown, 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, it is not exclusively Chinese anymore, but more of a pan-Asian neighborhood which reflects Oakland's diversity of Asian communities, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipinos, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian, Mien, Thai, and others. In addition to the standard Chinese New Year festivities, the Oakland Chinatown Streetfest (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, a food festival, and various activities. Oakland's Chinatown, like many other Chinatowns, appears to be experiencing a prolonged recession, with significantly declining business activity, forcing community planners to consider a significant move towards gentrification.[32]


Paifang at Sacramento's Chinatown Mall

According to the Chinese American Museum of Northern California, the Chinatown in Sacramento was one of California's first Chinatowns. Because Sacramento was a river port city during the California Gold Rush, the Chinatown earned the nickname "Yee Fow", translated as "Second Port City", as San Francisco's Chinatown was called "Dai Fow" or "First Port City". The Chinatown existed along what is I Street, which today is where the Amtrak station is located. Remnants of this Chinatown exists today as Sacramento's Chinatown Mall, which includes a paifang at its entry point and serves as a museum rather than an enclave.[33]

San Diego[edit]

San Diego's Chinese Center

San Diego's Chinatown was founded in the 1870s around Market Street and Third Avenue, but faded quickly after World War Two. 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 partially overlaps the burgeoning and gentrified Gaslamp Quarter Historic District (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, and the San Diego Chinese Heritage Museum is located here.

San Francisco[edit]

Grant Avenue/Stockton Street[edit]

The first, and one of the largest, most prominent and highly visited Chinatowns in the Americas is San Francisco's 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.

Arch to San Francisco's Chinatown.

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, more than New York City in terms of proportional numbers according to anthropologist Bernard Wong. While many ethnic Chinese do not reside in Chinatown today, but instead throughout the city of San Francisco as well as the surrounding Oakland and San Jose areas, 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 as Die Foul (大埠, which can be translated as 大城, da cheng in Mandarin 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.

Chinatown in San Francisco

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 t'ai 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 the Americas, 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 former 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 the Americas. 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.

Clement Street in the Inner Richmond.

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 Milpitas Chinatown Mall is a known convenient alternative that was built to cash in on the burgeoning Asian clientele that is generally spreading outside of Chinatown."[29]

Other Chinatowns in San Francisco[edit]

A "second" Chinatown exists on Clement Street in San Francisco's Richmond District. Sources say that this Chinatown got its start in the 1970s and steadily grew.[34]

San Gabriel Valley[edit]

Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, second largest Buddhist temple and monastery in the Western hemisphere.

There are many Chinese enclaves in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, which originated from the 1970s as many have migrated from the Los Angeles Chinatown.[35] These "ethnoburbs" extend to many suburbs to include Alhambra, Arcadia, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Marino, San Gabriel, Pasadena, and Temple City and then eastward to Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, and Walnut. These suburbs were not necessarily extensions of previous migrations from China that occurred in the mid-1800s, but rather they were caused by outmigrations from the downtown Los Angeles Chinatown from overcrowding, following the path of the White Flight in the 1970s.

San Jose[edit]

The city of San Jose is home to 63,434 Chinese Americans according to a recent population estimate, but does not have a Chinatown today. In the past, the city did have several Chinatowns which are now all extinct. The initial ones were frequently burned down by arson, with artifacts from May 1887 recently discovered around the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, which is located at 560 South 1st Street.[36] Another Chinatown was excavated during an urban renewal project to build the Fairmont Hotel and Silicon Valley Financial Center on Market and San Fernando Streets.[37] A person by the name of John Heinlen, a farmer and businessman, planned a six block Chinatown with brick structures with water and pipes in the area of Sixth Street and Cleveland Street in 1887, at the dismay of the non-Chinese public and caused public outrage. The area was then known as "Heinlenville" and contained a variety of merchants, barbers, traditional doctors, and Chinese herbal medicine. and the Ng Shing Gung temple. The area was surrounded by Little Italy and co-existed harmoniously, but then dwindled in the 1920s as the younger generations sought careers outside the area and with a lack of new Chinese coming in due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, the area lost almost all of its Chinese population.[38]

Neighboring San Mateo County also had "historical" Chinatowns. While San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have been specifically cited, suburban Chinese enclaves generally existed. These include the peninsula towns of San Mateo, Menlo Park, Mayfield, and San Jose that are referenced from the time periods of 1860 to 1900.[39] In the modern period, the satellite Chinatown in Milpitas, California is referenced as the place that has a clientele of 95 percent Asian.[40]

San Luis Obispo[edit]

Ah Louis Store, 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.

Santa Ana[edit]

According to the Los Angeles Times, there once was a Chinatown in Santa Ana, California. "In the shadows of Santa Ana's old City Hall, there is no clue that an ugly episode in Orange County history once happened here."[41] The Chinatown existed until 1906 when it was burned to the ground.[42]


The U.S. city of Stockton, California is home to a small Chinatown on Chung Wah Lane, East Market Street and East Washington Street. Although it is a very small area, there are some Chinese stores in it as well as restaurants such as On Lock Sam, the city's oldest restaurant, founded in 1898. The community was once quite large but, after development in the 1950s and 1960s and the construction of the Crosstown freeway, businesses moved, buildings were demolished, new buildings were built, and the community changed forever. There is still a Chinese New Year Parade merged with the Vietnamese New Year celebrations.[43]


Ventura had a flourishing Chinese settlement in the early 1880’s. The largest concentration of activity, known as China Alley, was just across Main Street from the Mission San Buenaventura. China Alley was parallel with Main Street and extended easterly off Figueroa Street between Main and Santa Clara Streets.[44] The city council designated the China Alley Historic Area a Point of Interest in the downtown business district.[45]


The history of the Chinese in the state of Colorado is closely related to the history of the Chinese in California, as many of them arrived through that state. According to the historical documents, many Chinese faced hardships due to language barriers, racism, and eventually laws that prohibited their existence. As a result many left, but those who remained still remained until the present era.[46]

Central City[edit]

Central City, Colorado was at one time home to the second largest Chinese population after Denver. While most of the population left, some remained well into the twentieth century.[46]


Denver at one time had a Chinatown in an area called "Hop Alley" according to several articles, one from the Denver Post.[47] The Associated Press reported that on October 31, 1880, the Chinatown at Hop Alley was burned down due to riots that were extensions of the riots in Wyoming and California following the yellow peril.[48]

As of 2012, Denver's Asian population is primarily Vietnamese, and has an area dedicated as Sakura Square (a Japantown). The Chinese community is smaller with Chinese restaurants "... dotting the metro area."[49] According to the article about the Salt Lake City Chinatown, Denver does have a "Chinatown-like" area, which is why the developers chose South Salt Lake instead.[50] The prior article says that the "... Far East Center at 333 South Federal Boulevard has the largest concentration of shops with restaurants, bakeries, markets, jewelry stores and a huge gift shop." [49]


Connecticut's history of Chinese is closely tied with New York City. However, in modern times, the casino business is responsible for the latest influx of Chinese in Connecticut, particularly Norwich.[51]


According to the Hartford Courant, Norwich has receive a very large influx of Chinese people as a result of the Foxwood and Mohegan Sun casinos. The Chinese have quickly overtaken the Haitians as the largest minority with at least 2200 Chinese casino workers. Due to the downturn in New York's Chinatown, many have moved here and found jobs in the garment industry. As a result, Norwich has earned the nickname "Connecticut's Chinatown."[51]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

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. After the development of the MCI Center, the Chinatown has dramatically declined to the point where it has become mainly an historic location rather than an anchor for the Chinese community. Many store signs use the Chinese language due to a local ordinance that requires it when located in this designated area, even when the establishment is not specifically Chinese.

Suburbs of Washington, D.C.[edit]

After the riots of 1968, many Chinese sought refuge in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, thus starting the decline of the H Street Chinatown. [52] According to another article, the largest concentrations of Chinese in the Washington DC area are in Montgomery County, Maryland at around 14%, while concentrations in Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia are around 9%, which dwarfs that of Washington DC's Chinatown around 3%.[53] As the shift continues, the role that the urban Chinatown once played is now replaced by the "satellites" in the suburbs. It turns out that the "best food is no longer in Chinatown" and "... the closest Chinese grocery retailer is in Falls Church, Virginia."[3]


The Demographics of Asian Americans shows that the Chinese population in Florida is fewer than 100,000 statewide and with little history, despite being the fourth most populous state in the United States. Its original Chinese population is tied with Cuba's Chinese heritage as many came from there, and not from California as with other southern states like Georgia and Arkansas. According to the article from the Miami Herald, Miami is notably missing a Chinatown, despite that heritage, its diverse culture, and its status as a "world class city."[54]

In the 1990s, a theme park called Splendid China was built, but did not survive due to money mismanagement and political issues. In 2002, the first Chinatown in Florida was established in Orlando. In 2012, a monument of Dr. Sun Yat Sen was unveiled in Orlando.


According to WTEV in Jacksonville, as of October 2012, there were plans to revitalize the Jacksonville downtown district with a new Chinatown by a CEO of a Chinese hedge fund.[55]


According to an article in the Biz Journal, as of December 2012, there were plans to build "Chinatown Miami-El Barrio Chino de Miami" with confirmed plans by an investor by the year 2015. The area has many ethnic Chinese and Asians who had "wanted" a Chinatown, but "did not know how to build it". The locations being considered include many areas including North Miami Beach, which is already home to many Asian establishments. The investor currently works as a consultant and is pursuing Miami's goals to become an "EB-5 regional center."[56]


Orlando's Chinatown, established in 2002, is located at 5060 West Colonial Dr. It is largely in a Chinese themed shopping center and features a monument of Sun Yat Sen, unveiled in 2012. What makes this notable is the fact that Orlando Chinatown is the first commercial location to hold such a monument.[57]


According to the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa has a Chinatown-like area on the confluence of "... Waters and Armenia avenues." Furthermore, the author states that the area is "...becoming a little Chinatown."[58]


The Chinese in the state of Georgia follows much of the same history as other southern states with the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of slavery. Many of the first Chinese in Georgia ended up in Augusta to deepen the Augusta Canal according to an article from the Augusta Chronicle. Many ended up owning grocery stores until the 1960s in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Augusta.[59] By the 1990s, the newer Chinese populations came to the Atlanta metropolitan area as a result of Atlanta's winning bid for the 1996 Olympic Games. Many new Chinese retailers chose Buford Highway because of its "low cost".[60]

Atlanta metropolitan area[edit]

Signs in English, Spanish and Chinese along Buford Highway near Atlanta

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), Atlanta's place for Chinese culture is in Chamblee, known as the "Chinatown Mall".[61] While Atlanta itself does not have a Chinatown, the "International Village", as the area is often referred to, is located on Buford Highway in Gwinnett County and is home to many Asian retailers including Chinese. According to the article in the AJC, the area is filled "... with Vietnamese noodle shops sitting beside Mexican taquerias, Korean video stores and Chinese grocers."[60]


Hawaii's Chinese historical population dates back as far as 1789 and remains one of the highest concentrations of Chinese people in the United States.


The Wo Fat Building in the Chinatown district of 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 pioneered and dominated by Taishan immigrants, Honolulu's Chinatown was started by early settlers from Zhongshan, Guangdong Province in the 1890s. They migrated to Hawaii for work in the island's cane sugar plantations as well as rice fields and then as they became successful, largely relocated 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 Sun Yat-sen – from the Zhongshan region of Guangdong province of 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. Recent development and planning has dramatically transformed the once decaying and unsafe neighborhood to an upscale Asian inspired arts district blended with the traditional Chinese bazaars and family owned stores.


Idaho's Chinese history follows much history of Chinese in other western states, primarily California. According to historical records, the 1870s showed that 28% of Idaho's population was Chinese. The first recorded Chinese was of a "... man who signed the Luna House register in Lewiston in 1862"[62] Many came to the state through the lure of gold. However, by the 1900s, many left the state. The majority of the Chinese population resided in the northern part of the state with Lewiston having "... as many as 1,500 Chinese alone."[62]


According to KTVB, the tunnels around the Egyptian Theatre were made by the Chinese who lived in a Chinatown near there.[63]


The history of Chinese people in Illinois is primarily centered on the city of Chicago, as many looked to escape the anti-Chinese violence that had broken out on the west coast. The first Chinese arrived in Chicago after 1869 when the First Transcontinental Railroad was built.


The Chicago area is home to two Chinatowns, one on Cermak Road and the other on Argyle Street on the North Side.

Cermak Road[edit]

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.

West Argyle Street[edit]

Chicagoans also refer to a Southeast Asian community on Argyle Street in the north side as the "New Chinatown", or alternatively, as "Little Chinatown".[citation needed] 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.


The history of Chinese people in Louisiana follows much of the same history as other southern states with the Emancipation Proclamation going into effect and ending slavery. With labor scarce in Louisiana, the Chinese laborers primarily filled the plantations and the shrimp industry.[64] Former slave owners looked to the growing Chinese population of California to fill the void.[65] At one time, New Orleans had the largest Chinatown in the south. By the 1930s, much of the Chinatown in New Orleans was gone.

New Orleans[edit]

The first significant migration of Chinese into Louisiana took place during Reconstruction after the American Civil War, when local planters imported hundreds Cantonese contract workers from Cuba and California as a low-cost substitute for slave labor.[66] By 1870, the Chinese were abandoning the plantations and finding work in the cities, especially New Orleans, and by the 1880s, a flourishing Chinatown had formed on the 1100 Block of Tulane Avenue, near Elk Place, in the Faubourg Ste. Marie. When it existed, New Orleans Chinatown was the largest Chinatown in the American South.[67] The Chinese came to dominate the laundry industry of the city during this era, as they had in other American cities. The original unskilled laborers were joined by merchants from San Francisco, who operated businesses to service the growing Chinese population in the region and to profit from trade at the Port of Orleans.

But in 1937, nearly all of the Faubourg Ste. Marie, including Chinatown, was demolished by WPA development to build the modern Central Business District.[68] The former site of Chinatown is now the Tulane Medical Center. The Chinese attempted to build a second Chinatown on the 500 block of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. In the 1940s, this section of Bourbon was still predominantly residential. But by then, the younger generation of American-born Chinese were abandoning the laundry industry and migrating to the suburban eastbank of Jefferson Parish, where much of the Chinese population lives today. Only a few Chinese businesses successfully migrated to the French Quarter Chinatown, which was abandoned in subsequent years.[citation needed]

Today, nearly all traces of the historic New Orleans Chinatown have been obliterated. The only surviving marker of New Orleans Chinatown is the On Leong Association's painted sign over the door of their former meeting hall at 530 Bourbon.[69]


Baltimore Chinatown at On Leong Merchant Association Building, Park Avenue

In the state of Maryland, the history of Chinese people is closely associated with the Chinatown in Washington, DC. Rockville is home to one of the largest Chinese communities in Maryland.


There existed two Chinatowns in Baltimore, the first one existed on the 200 block of Marion Street during the 1880s. A second location was located on Park Ave., which was dominated by laundries and restaurants. The Chinese population initially came because of the transcontinental railroad, however, the Chinese population never exceeded 400 as of 1941. During segregation, Chinese children were classified as "white" and went to the white schools. The Chinatown was largely gone by the First World War due to urban renewal.[70] There are now debates about whether Baltimore should revitalize the old Chinatown in the location of Park Avenue or build a new one about a mile north at Charles Street and North Avenue.[71]

Rockville and Montgomery County[edit]

According to Bethesda Magazine, Rockville, Maryland and the surrounding Montgomery County region is home to 50,000 Chinese people.[72] The area is generally considered part of the Washington Metropolitan Area's Chinese community as the article also references to Northern Virginia Asian grocery stores. According to the article, many call Rockville "the capital of the region’s Chinatown."


The history of Chinese migration to the state of Massachusetts is closely associated with the great migration from the west to Boston's Chinatown in the 1870s according to WGBH.[73]


A view from within Chinatown, Boston looking towards the paifang

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 the 1960s to the 1980s, Boston's Chinatown was located in 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, while still in existence, 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.[74][75]

Quincy and surrounding suburbs of Boston[edit]

Kam Man Food in Quincy, Massachusetts

According to the Patriot Ledger, there was a prediction that Quincy will become "second Chinatown" in the Boston area and surrounding suburbs.[76]


The history of Chinese migration into Michigan is mostly around Detroit's old Chinatown in the 1960s.[77] In the modern era, Madison Heights now serves that role with the Association of Chinese Americans' Chinese Community Center located there.


Detroit's Chinatown was originally located at Third Avenue, Porter St and Bagley St, now the permanent site of the MGM Grand Casino.[78] 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.[79] However, Detroit's urban decline and escalating street violence, primarily the killing of restauranteur Tommie Lee, led to the new location's demise, with the last remaining Chinese food restaurant in Chinatown finally shut its doors in the early 2000s. Although there is still a road marker indicating "Chinatown" and a mural commemorating the struggle for justice in the Vincent Chin case, only one Chinese American establishment still operates within the borders of the City of Detroit. The Association of Chinese Americans Detroit Outreach Center,[77] a small community center, serves a handful of new Chinese immigrants who still reside in the Cass Corridor.

Grand Rapids[edit]

Just south of Grand Rapids in Wyoming and Kentwood, there is a strip of Chinese and Vietnamese businesses on Division Avenue, between 36th Street and 44th Street.

Madison Heights[edit]

One of several Chinese strip malls on John R Road in Madison Heights.

Just north of Detroit in Madison Heights, there is a small strip of East Asian commercial outlets along John R. Road, which include restaurants and retail managed by individuals of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Filipino descent. Also located in Madison Heights is the Association of Chinese Americans' Chinese Community Center. Although the Chinese American population of Southeast Michigan is comparatively smaller than other American cities, the Detroit chapter of the ACA is the only branch of the Organization of Chinese Americans to have a fully operational community center, as well as two satellite service centers.[80]


The state of Minnesota since 2002 has 18,000 Chinese residents. The original Chinese came to Minnesota in the 1870s from the Transcontinental Railroad but have been dispersed throughout the state with no one particular city having any significant concentrations. A branch of the On Leong Chinese Merchants Association was present in Minneapolis in 1920 and a paifang was built in Nicollet Mall in the 1970s and moved to the Minnesota State Fair in the 1990s.[81]


The history of Chinese people in Missouri is primarily centered on the St. Louis Chinatown, called "Hop Alley" in the 1960s. According to the history of Joplin, the Chinese were primarily drawn to the area to build the transcontinental railroad.[82]

St. Louis[edit]

St. Louis' original Chinatown, also called "Hop Alley", was in the city of St. Louis, Missouri[83] 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.

There is now an established China town on Olive blvd in University City, Mo (an inner suburb of St. Louis,Mo). It contains several Asian restaurants, storefronts, businesses and places of worship.


Mai Wah Society Building in Butte, MT

The history of Chinese in Montana closely ties with the building of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1860s in many cities and towns including Butte, Big Timber, and other places. An archaeological find uncovered remnants of laundromats and other architectures relating to the Chinese culture.[84] According to another article, Montana had as many as 1,949 Chinese lived in Montana Territory out of a population of 20,000 in the 1870s. Today, one of the few reminders of Chinese society in Montana is the Chinese New Year parade that is held at the Mai Wah Museum in Butte.[85]

Big Timber[edit]

At the end of the 19th century, many Chinese people called Big Timber, Montana home. According to the Billings Gazette, Chinese artifacts dating from the late 1800s to the 1930s were found. The artifacts showed that "... Chinese restaurants, laundries and even a house of prostitution did business in the southcentral Montana town."[86] Justin Moschelle, a Master's student at the University of Montana took up an archaeological investigation in the summer of 2008 and uncovered bits and fragments of the once existent Chinatown. Built in the 1880s, "... the city block bounded by Anderson, First, Mcleod, and Front streets became the unofficial Chinatown of Big Timber."[87] The article further clarifies that the Chinese history within this Montana town was nearly wiped out with vandals destroying graves and any remaining relics of this community. It wasn't until 2008 that the discovery was made where the town of Big Timber and the state of Montana nearly lost all traces of any presence of Chinese society.[88][89] According to the findings, the last Chinese left during the 1930s, "... presumably to larger Chinese settlements in California or even back to China. All that is left of the Chinese presence in Big Timber, are a handful of artifacts and stories of Chinese tunnels and the opium trade."[87]


The Chinatown and the history of the Chinese migrants in Butte is documented in the Mai Wah Museum. Due to the mining boom in Butte, many Chinese workers moved in and set up businesses that led to the creation of a Chinatown. There was anti-Chinese sentiment in the 1870s and onwards due to racism on the part of the white settlers, exacerbated by economic depression, and in 1895, the chamber of commerce and labor unions started a boycott of Chinese owned businesses. The business owners fought back by suing the unions and winning. The decline of Butte's Chinatown that started in 1895 and continued until only 92 Chinese people remained by 1940 in the entire city. After that, the influence the Chinese had on the area was largely gone as they moved out one by one.[90]

Cedar Creek[edit]

Cedar Creek, Montana (location referenced in the Battle of Cedar Creek, Montana Territory) was also home to a Chinatown. During an excavation project in 1995 to prove the presence of Chinese in the area, the initial findings did not show much. However, a 2007 finding uncovered "...fascinating information about the Cedar Creek Chinese population" and the University of Montana and the United States Forest Service plan to do additional work to trace back to a potentially lost part of Montana's Chinese history.[91]


Helena, Montana was at one time home to a Chinatown at Reeder's Alley according to the Helena's Ghost Walk tourist attraction.[92] According to another source, Reeder's Alley, as the area was referred to, bordered a "... thriving Chinatown" which completely vanished by the 1970s. Due to some efforts to preserve the historical aspects of the buildings, the area was spared from complete demolition, and is fixed up as part of the museum.[93] According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Helena's Chinatown had a Chinese population of 1,765, of which 359 of them were living in the metropolitan area. At that time, this Chinatown was the largest in the state of Montana.[94]


Chinatowns in the South-West of USA

Nevada's history of Chinese population closely parallels that of California and other western states with the 1880s showing the population outnumbering the Irish, but never had a dominant role.[95] In 1864, the Chinese came as a result of the Gold Rush of 1849 and the transcontinental railroad.[96][97] In 1999, a new Chinatown plaza was built in Las Vegas.


During the 1860s, Aurora's Chinatown was created via Ordinance 32 to contain all people of Chinese descent during the period of time when the public deemed that spread of the Chinese race became a problem.[98]


Dayton, Nevada was itself called "Chinatown" due to the large number of Chinese immigrants.

Las Vegas[edit]

The only Chinatown in Las Vegas was initially just a large shopping center called "Chinatown Plaza." It was 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. The area has been officially designated "Chinatown" by Nevada governor Kenny Guinn and by the 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.


The U.S. city of Reno, Nevada was once home to a Chinatown that existed east of Virginia Street and north of the Truckee River around 1878.[27]

Virginia City[edit]

As with the Gold Country in California, Virginia City was mined in part by the Chinese. The town has a historic Chinatown which had a Chinese population of over 1500 in the 1870s.[99][100]


The city of Winnemucca, Nevada was home to a vibrant Chinatown during the transcontinental railroad era.

New Jersey[edit]

The history of Chinese in New Jersey is closely related to the history of Chinese in New York City. Like New York City, the exclusion act affected Chinese immigration into New Jersey from 1882 to 1943.[101] In the modern era, New Jersey is home to the "satellite Chinatowns" of New York City.

Edison and Northern New Jersey suburbs[edit]

See New York City for more details.


The Chinese enclave in Downtown Newark, New Jersey called "Chinatown" thrived in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and was centered on Mulberry Arcade. It had a large percentage of Chinese immigrants, centered along Market Street in Newark, New Jersey from 1875 and remaining on some scale for nearly one hundred years. The center of the neighborhood was directly east of the Government Center neighborhood. The first Chinese businesses appeared in Newark in the second half of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th century. By the 1920s, the small area had a Chinese population of over 3000.[102]

In 1910, a small lane with housing and shopping was built connecting Mulberry Street and Columbia Street between Lafayette and Green Streets.

In the 1920s, recurring federal opium raids[103] disrupted the community, causing many to move to more peaceful places.

Despite an attempt to revive the neighborhood decades later, the Mulberry Arcade (the center of Chinatown) was removed in the 1950s. Today there is barely any sign that a Chinatown existed in the neighborhood, and only a small Chinese population even in the surrounding areas. There is a single Chinese restaurant on Lafayette Street. Nearby, the Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center on Liberty Street, in an old factory in the Chinatown neighborhood, exhibits arts from various world cultures.

New York[edit]

The Chinese American history in the state of New York is closely tied with New York City. The Chinese have arrived in New York City as early as 1868. However, Chinese people did exist since the late 1800s in Western New York, mostly in the cities of Buffalo, Syracuse, and the Capital region of Albany. Also near New York City, the city of Yonkers also had a sizeable population, but its growth was kept to around 50 mainly due to its proximity to the large Chinatown in New York City. Since the 1970s, Yonkers has more than 900 Chinese primarily due to its association with the New York metropolitan area.[104]

Upstate New York Chinese history[edit]

According to a Buffalo Courier news article, Chinese immigrants settled in the Buffalo area during the late 1800s from San Francisco, and numbered around 140, but dropping to 76 due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, mostly scattered around the Michigan Street, Broadway, Oak Street, and William Street areas. Although Chinese restaurants and laundromats were established, the Chinese population in the Buffalo area remained small.[105]

In Syracuse, there were only 27 Chinese residents, and resided primarily around South Salinas Street, Onondaga Street, and Oswego Street, primarily operating Chinese laundries and one Chinese restaurant. The same Chinese exclusion laws also kept the population in Syracuse small.[106]

In Albany, the Chinese history is not well known prior to 1877, but has recently attracted many Chinese through its nanotechnology industry.


Albany, the capital of the state of New York, is home to around 989 Chinese, about 1.2% of its population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census data with a total Asian population of around 3,000.[107] The first Chinese to arrive in Albany was not well documented until the first Chinese business was registered in 1877 located at 668 Broadway. From 1886 to the 1920s, Albany's Chinese population grew, where the number of Chinese laundromats grew from 9 to about 24. Like the rest of the country, the Chinese Exclusion Act kept the population in this city small. It was documented that most of the original Chinese population who migrated to Albany, did so through the Hudson River, a common migration route for those who settled in the Capital District from New York City. Many of the first Chinese residents of Albany lived around Green Street and Hudson Avenue. By the year 1920, the city was home to only two Chinese restaurants on Green Street. Later on, the famous "Oriental Occidental Restaurant" opened at 44 State Street but closed and is now the "... site of Jack's Oyster House."[108]

Albany's history until the 21st century showed a lack of reputation as a cultural hub, that in 1982, former New York governor Ed Koch once derided Albany as “a city without a good Chinese restaurant.”[109][110] However, due the flourishing nanotechnology[111] and high-technology[112] sectors, the city will be getting a new Chinatown by early 2013 to service the metropolitan area's growing Chinese community, to be located at 303 Central Avenue, featuring a teahouse and a variety of Asian stores, according to an article from Biz Journals.[112] This Chinatown will supposedly be a "work in progress".[113]

New York City[edit]

An intersection in Manhattan Chinatown

The New York City Metropolitan Area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 735,019 individuals as of 2012,[14] including at least nine Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, three in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown, the Elmhurst Chinatown, and the newly emerged Chinatown in Corona), three in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown, the Avenue U Chinatown, and the Bensonhurst Chinatown),[114] and one each in Edison, New Jersey and Nassau County, Long Island.[115] Notably, the two boroughs, Bronx and Staten Island do not have an area called "Chinatown", with the Bronx only having about 7,000 Chinese by a 2000 U.S. Census estimate and Staten Island having about 12,100 Chinese by a 2010 U.S. Census estimate.[116] Chinese Americans, as a whole, have had a (relatively) long tenure in New York City. The first Chinese immigrants came to Lower Manhattan around 1870, looking for the "gold" America had to offer.[117] By 1880, the enclave around Five Points was estimated to have from 200 to as many as 1,100 members.[117] However, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which went into effect in 1882, caused an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who immigrated to New York and the rest of the United States.[117] Later, in 1943, the Chinese were given a small quota, and the community's population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed.[117]


The Manhattan Chinatown (simplified Chinese: 纽约华埠; traditional Chinese: 紐約華埠; pinyin: niŭyuē huá bù), the historical focus of the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere, is located in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Within Manhattan's expanding Chinatown lies a Little Fuzhou on East Broadway and surrounding streets, occupied predominantly by immigrants from the Fujian Province of Mainland China. Areas surrounding the "Little Fuzhou" consist mostly of Cantonese immigrants from Guangdong Province, the earlier Chinese settlers, and in some areas moderately of Cantonese immigrants. In the past few years, however, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.[118] The energy and population of Manhattan's Chinatown are fueled by relentless, massive immigration from Mainland China, both legal and illegal in origin, propagated in large part by New York's high density, extensive mass transit system, and huge economic marketplace.

The early settlers of Manhattan's Chinatown were mostly from Taishan and Hong Kong of the Guangdong Province of China, which are the Cantonese speakers and also from Shanghai.[119] They form most of the Chinese population of the area surrounded by Mott and Canal Streets.[119] The later settlers, from Fuzhou, Fujian, form the Chinese population of the area bounded by East Broadway.[119] Chinatown's modern borders are roughly Grand Street on the north, Broadway on the west, Chrystie Street on the east, and East Broadway to the south.[119]

A Chinese community is growing in East Harlem (simplified Chinese: 东哈莱姆; traditional Chinese: 東哈萊姆; pinyin: dōnghā láimǔ) in uptown Manhattan, nearly tripling in population between the years 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census figures.[120][121][122] This neighborhood has been described as the precursor to a new satellite Chinatown within Manhattan itself,[123] which upon acknowledged formation would represent the second Chinatown neighborhood in Manhattan, the eighth Chinatown in New York City, and the tenth within the overall New York City metropolitan region.


Queens Library in Flushing Chinatown, the first satellite of the original Manhattan Chinatown.
The Elmhurst Chinatown (Chinese: 唐人街, 艾姆赫斯特; pinyin: tángrénjiē, ài mǔ hè sī tè) on Broadway, now a satellite of the Flushing Chinatown in Queens itself.

The Flushing Chinatown (Chinese: 法拉盛華埠; pinyin: fǎlāshèng huá bù), in the Flushing area of the borough of Queens in New York City, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City itself. Main Street and the area to its west, particularly along Roosevelt Avenue, have become the primary nexus of Flushing Chinatown. However, Chinatown continues to expand southeastward along Kissena Boulevard and northward beyond Northern Boulevard. In the 1970s, a Chinese community established a foothold in the neighborhood of Flushing, whose demographic constituency had been predominantly non-Hispanic white and Japanese. Taiwanese began the surge of immigration, followed by other groups of Chinese. By 1990, Asians constituted 41% of the population of the core area of Flushing, with Chinese in turn representing 41% of the Asian population.[124] However, ethnic Chinese are constituting an increasingly dominant proportion of the Asian population as well as of the overall population in Flushing and its Chinatown. A 1986 estimate by the Flushing Chinese Business Association approximated 60,000 Chinese in Flushing alone.[125] Mandarin Chinese[126] (including Northeastern Mandarin), Fuzhou dialect, Min Nan Fujianese, Wu Chinese, Beijing dialect, Wenzhounese, Shanghainese, Suzhou dialect, Hangzhou dialect, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and English are all prevalently spoken in Flushing Chinatown, and the Mongolian language is now emerging. Even the relatively obscure Dongbei style of cuisine indigenous to Northeast China is now available in Flushing Chinatown.[127] Given its rapidly growing status, the Flushing Chinatown may surpass in size and population the original New York City Chinatown in the borough of Manhattan within a few years, and it is debatable whether this has already happened.

Elmhurst, another neighborhood in the borough of Queens, also has a large and rapidly growing Chinese community.[128][129] Previously a small area with Chinese shops on Broadway between 81st Street and Cornish Avenue, this newly evolved second Chinatown in Queens has now expanded to 45th Avenue and Whitney Avenue. An emerging third Chinese community is now developing in Queens, in the neighborhood of Corona.[130]


One of the Brooklyn Chinatowns. New York City's satellite Chinatowns in Queens and Brooklyn, on Long Island, are thriving as traditionally urban enclaves, as large-scale Chinese immigration continues into New York,[131][132][133] with the largest metropolitan Chinese population outside Asia.[134]

By 1988, 90% of the storefronts on Eighth Avenue in the Sunset Park, in southern Brooklyn, had been abandoned. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area, not only new arrivals from China, but also members of Manhattan's Chinatown, seeking refuge from high rents, who fled to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed what the website of the local branch of the Chinese Benevolent Association has called "the Brooklyn Chinatown",[135] which now extends for 20 blocks along 8th Avenue, from 42nd to 62nd Streets. This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past. However, in the recent decade, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been pouring into Brooklyn's Chinatown and supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly higher rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown, and Brooklyn Chinatown is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants. In the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of newly arriving Fuzhou immigrants were settling within Manhattan's Chinatown, and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged in New York City within Manhattan's Chinatown; by the 2000s, however, the epicenter of the massive Fuzhou influx had shifted to Brooklyn Chinatown, which is now home to the fastest growing and perhaps largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou in the Manhattan Chinatown, which remains surrounded by areas which continue to house significant populations of Cantonese, all of Brooklyn's Chinatown is swiftly consolidating into New York City's new Little Fuzhou. However, a growing community of Wenzhounese immigrants from China's Zhejiang Province is now also arriving in Brooklyn Chinatown.[136] Also in contrast to Manhattan's Chinatown, which still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in the western section of Manhattan's Chinatown, where Cantonese residents have a communal gathering venue to shop, work, and socialize, Brooklyn Chinatown is very quickly losing its Cantonese community identity.[137]

Satellite Chinatowns of the original Brooklyn Chinatown have emerged within Brooklyn itself, namely the Avenue U Chinatown and the Bensonhurst Chinatown.

Staten Island[edit]

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the borough of Staten Island showed that Asians account for 7.4% of the population, with Chinese-Americans numbering about 12,100 and there is no "Chinatown", although Chinese grocery stores are generally scattered throughout the island. According to the article from NY1, "... Mosel Avenue in Concord is home to a high concentration of Chinese immigrants." Historically, the landscape of Staten Island is more suburban-like and is therefore is less likely for a Chinatown to form as it is "more comfortable" and subject to more cultural integration than the urban settings of Manhattan or Brooklyn. While other boroughs such as Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan all have at least one Chinatown, Staten Island does not have an area that is "... only for Asians." Due to the rising cost of tolls to cross bridges to Manhattan or Brooklyn, having a Chinatown "... in the backyard" became more appealing as many have forgone going to a Chinatown in another New York City borough and instead visiting a local Chinese grocery store for the same items. As a result, community leaders began pushing to build a Chinatown, however, the "... challenge of creating a Chinatown on Staten Island is finding a location for it."[138]

Hong Kong Supermarket in East Brunswick, near Edison, in suburban New Jersey, in the New York City Metropolitan Area.

Suburbs of New York City[edit]

Several suburbs in New York City metropolitan area contain pockets of Chinese populations, notably Edison and Fort Lee in New Jersey and Nassau County on Long Island as "... Asians head to the suburbs in favor of the once dominant Manhattan Chinatown."[3] For example, Edison, New Jersey has a thriving Chinatown.[139] The proximity and accessibility by mass transit of Edison's Chinatown to the remainder of the New York City Metropolitan Area have positioned this district in expansion mode; however, unlike the Chinatowns in New York City, which incorporate an almost exclusively Chinese presence, this Chinatown comprises a growing Vietnamese population and business hub as well. Nassau County's Chinese hub is also growing rapidly, centered on Northern Boulevard as an eastern satellite node of the Flushing Chinatown,[140] with the county's already substantial Chinese population increasing another 50% from the 2000 Census to approximately 25,000 in 2010.[141]

North Carolina[edit]

While there is not much history of Chinese in North Carolina, the Raleigh-Durham area will be the home to North Carolina's newest Chinatown.[142][143]


Charlotte's Asian Corner Mall

Two Chinatowns exist in the Charlotte metropolitan area, one on Central Avenue (near Briar Creek Rd.) and the other on the corner of North Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road, developed from the defunct Tryon Mall in 1999, as mentioned in an article from the Charlotte Observer.[144] Dim sum on push carts is a feature of restaurants in both Chinatowns as a former partner in the old location moved to the new location.[145][146]

Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area[edit]

According to several sources including ABC,[147] and the News Observer, the Raleigh-Durham area will be getting a new Chinatown scheduled to open in 2013 in the location of the Morrisville Outlet Mall. The owners of the outlet mall had faced high vacancy rates since the closure of the Saks Fifth Avenue store.[143] The new owners hope to place new Asian themed malls like this one to other metropolitan areas around the United States, with this one being their first. Furthermore, the developer further elaborated saying that "...the Chinese-American community [in the Triangle area]... has grown nearly 80 percent over the past decade and now stands at more than 15,000... and... is home to nearly half of the Chinese-Americans in the state, according to U.S. Census data." He further elaborated saying that entrepreneurs have met and discussed "the need for a Chinatown" in the Triangle region, but none have come into fruition. Based on these facts, the developer hopes his project would succeed that he said " 200 years, when I'm dead and buried in the ground, I want people to say that Raleigh-Durham airport is next to Chinatown."[148] The plan is to turn the area into a Chinese cultural center with a five-star hotel.[149] As of July 2012, the plans for the Chinatown have become on hold as the developer failed to come up with the funds to purchase the location. However, there are still plans for the idea, but will be fulfilled by another developer.[150]


The first Chinese people to come to Ohio arrived in the 1860s, most of whom were American citizens who were descendants of Chinese immigrants from California and the west coast.[151]


Cincinnati once had a Chinatown until the 1940s, which boasted of a population of about 300 and had an unofficial mayor according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. After the invasion by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, many Chinese who resided in the Cincinnati Chinatown were rounded up by the FBI and taken into prison camps.[152]


This is a retail street in Cleveland's Chinatown, St. Clair-Superior.

Cleveland had two distinct areas which were called "Chinatown" in its history. The original Chinatown existed around Rockwell Avenue and Ontario Street while the newer one is in the St. Clair-Superior area. As of 2006, only the St. Clair-Superior area still functions as a Chinatown while the Rockwell Avenue/Ontario Street is in the process of being revitalized.

Rockwell Avenue/Ontario Street "Original" Chinatown[edit]

Cleveland's original Chinatown existed on the 2100 block of Rockwell Avenue according to an article from The Plain Dealer, Cleveland's newspaper. The area was home to at least 6000 Chinese in the 1980s and was also centered on Ontario Street according to another article.[153] The original Chinatown's first immigrants were from southern Guangdong province in the 1860s from the transcontinental railroad and thrived until the 1920s-1930s. By the 1960s, many of the Chinese residents moved out of the area until its ultimate decline and disappearance in 2006 with the last restaurant closing. According to the article, "...the street thrived for decades. Golden Coins, 3 Chinese Sisters, Kwong Chou, Golden Gate and Shanghai were among the restaurants that drew patrons from across the region." The old Chinatown was overtaken by nearby Asiatown. City councilman Joe Cimperman remembers going there when he was 4 years old. The area is showing signs of revival as Cleveland prepares the area to attract capital from mainland China to build up the area, where there are currently plans for at least 5 restaurants and to eventually turn Rockwell Avenue into a "food street."[154]

St. Clair-Superior: Cleveland's Asiatown[edit]

Cleveland's Asiatown (originally "Chinatown" prior to 2006)[155] is one of several ethnic communities within the city proper, along with Little Italy and Slavic Village. The neighborhood is centered on 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.


The immigration of Chinese people into Oklahoma was limited to around 139 in 1910. Since then, the populations of Chinese have grown in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Unlike other states, Mexicans were used to build the railroad due to the Chinese Exclusion Act.[156]

Oklahoma City[edit]

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.


The history of Chinese in Oregon started around the 1850s as the Chinese were the second major Asian group to arrive after the Hawaiians. Many came as laborers from Guangdong province.[157]


Jacksonville, Oregon was home to Oregon's first Chinatown.


Chinatown Gate, Portland, Oregon

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 not many Chinese restaurants remain. Some of the restaurants are the historic chop suey restaurant, Good Taste which serves Cantonese BBQ and noodle soups, Golden Horse which serves a variety of dishes but specializes in seafood. Fong Chong which serves dim-sum, and House of Louie which also serves dim-sum and other Chinese dishes. The Republic Cafe opened in 1922 and is reported to be the oldest Chinese restaurant in Portland. The building of the Portland chapter of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association still remains in Chinatown and it is open to the public. 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 3rd Ave. and NW Everett St., is also a major feature in Chinatown. It was designed by artisans from Suzhou, China.

Given the expensive rents and tourist orientation of Chinatown and following the dual Chinatown pattern as present in several major metropolitan areas of the Americas, 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". The Montavilla area has moderate crime problems.[158]


In the state of Pennsylvania, Chinese first arrived in eastern Pennsylvania in the 1840s from New Jersey and western Pennsylvania in the 1870s upon the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad to fill positions in the cutlery industry caused by labor disputes as in Massachusetts.[159][160]

Beaver Falls[edit]

Beaver Falls was at one time home to a Chinatown in the 1870s and had as many as 200 Chinese. After the strike due to regulations restricting opium usage and gambling, the population dwindled down to 50 until the Chinatown was practically non-existent.[161]


There is a Chinatown centered on 10th and Race Streets in Philadelphia. Over the years, several blocks were lost to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Vine Street Expressway. For the past few years, city officials have restricted redevelopment in Chinatown, particularly as a result of efforts by a coalition of grassroots groups (pan-ethnic, labor groups) working together to preserve Chinatown. Today the lost blocks have been regained by the expansion of Chinatown to Arch Street and north of Vine Street into the Calowhill neighborhood, which is also known as "Chinatown North". Asian restaurants, funeral homes, and grocery stores are common sights. Philadelphia's Chinatown residents are mostly of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian peoples. Korean, Japanese, and Filipinos are also residents. 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.


A now defunct Chinatown was located on Grant Street and Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh, where two Chinese restaurants remain. The On Leong Society was located there.[162] The Chinese population in Pittsburgh has grown recently and is now ranked 19th among the large city category with about 3,402 Chinese Americans, or about 1.1% of the population. Although newer stores exist in the Strip District with many other ethnic varieties, the Chinese grocery stores are generally scattered throughout the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with a presence in both the suburbs and inside the city.

Rhode Island[edit]

Much history of Chinese culture in Rhode Island is primarily around the Providence Chinatown, which was the last of the old Chinatowns.


Providence once had a Chinatown that was the "last of the old Chinatowns". The extension of Empire Street doomed the Chinatown and all of the buildings were demolished including the former headquarters of local Chinese societies. It was once located next to the Empire Theatre and the Central Baptist Church.[163]

South Dakota[edit]

The history of Chinese people in the state of South Dakota when it was still part of the Dakota Territory mostly centered on the mining industry. According to the article, there is a legend that at one time, "... Deadwood had the largest Chinatown east of San Francisco."[164] Due to a recent desire to uncover South Dakota's history, and how the Chinese have made their influence, South Dakota is sponsoring research to uncover this history.[164]


The gold rush attracted Chinese immigrants Deadwood, South Dakota with a peak population of 250.[164] While many of them engaged in mining, most worked in service enterprises. A quarter arose on Main Street, encouraged by the lack of restrictions on foreign property ownership in Dakota Territory and a relatively high level of tolerance. Wong Fee Lee arrived in Deadwood in 1876 and became a leading merchant. He was a community leader among the Chinese Americans until his death in 1921.[165][166] The state of South Dakota sponsored an archeological dig in the area during the 2000s.[167]


The history of Chinese in Texas is closely associated with the railroads with two contingents, first in 1870 and then in 1883. The Chinese were the most numerous Asians until the 1970s with the influx of Vietnamese.[168]


Austin's Chinatown, established in 2006, is located at 10901 N. Lamar Blvd.,[169] and features top reviewed restaurants and supermarkets according to an article by the Austin Chronicle.[170] According to a recent population estimate, the city of Austin is home to 8,886 Chinese Americans comprising about 1.2% of the population, making it ranked 18th among the large city category.

Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex[edit]

Dallas proper has no notable districts with significant concentrations of Chinese people or businesses. According to historical documents, the original Dallas Chinese population started with laundromats and slowly migrated to the restaurant industry between the years of 1875 to 1940.[171] Though Dallas was home to many Chinese as in other cities such as El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston, the Chinese in Dallas did not congregate into a "Chinatown". Many of the original Chinese population were originally employed as strike breakers for the Houston and Texas Central Railway, with as many as 250 Chinese employees.[172]

While Richardson is mentioned as one of the "Chinatowns", the Chinese population of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is generally dispersed with the Asian Trade District in Dallas proper, Plano, and Arlington also containing pockets of Chinese population.[173] According to a recent population estimate, Plano has the largest percentage in the area in the big city category, at 5.2%, and is ranked 6th with 13,592 Chinese Americans.

In recent years, however, a considerable, newly emerging suburban Chinese enclave can be found on North Greenville Avenue, just north of the old downtown in Richardson, Texas, which is ranked 13th in the medium city category with 3,274 Chinese Americans.

El Paso[edit]

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 that it attracted a large number of Chinese workers to the American Southwest, and a Chinatown sprung up there.


Ranchester Police Storefront in Houston

Yet another example of the new-Chinatown/old-Chinatown contrast is Houston, where there is an old and largely disappearing Chinatown on Chartres Street and McKinney Street in Downtown Houston. To reverse the decline of the old-Chinatown in Downtown Houston, business leaders have attempted to lure tourists as plans have been drawn up to develop a Chinese paifang on McKinney Street as its entryway.

Houston's new Chinatown is about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Downtown Houston. It is over 6 square miles (16 km2), making it among the largest automobile-centric Chinatowns in the United States, covering more area than New York's Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Lower East Side, East Village, West Village, Flatiron District, and Tribeca combined. In the 1980s increasing numbers of Chinese were living in Southwest Houston and Fort Bend County and those residents were further away from the old Chinatown in East Downtown. The new Chinatown began to expand in the 1990s when Houston-area Asian American entrepreneurs moved their businesses from older neighborhoods, especially the old Chinatown, in a search for more inexpensive properties.

The new Chinatown is located within a residential area of single-family houses and apartments, and its spread-out nature differs from the East Downtown Chinatown, which was in a relatively compact area. The businesses within the new Chinatown include a mall, supermarkets, shopping centers, restaurants, and bakeries. The street signs have Chinese characters. Almost one dozen banks, including overseas Chinese banks and mainstream banks, are located along a less than 1 mile (1.6 km) stretch of Bellaire Boulevard, in proximity to Beltway 8. The clientele of these banks include area residents and Asian American entrepreneurs. Robert Lee, an executive vice president of MetroBank, said that "They call it the Wall Street of Chinatown."

Panoramic view of "New-Chinatown" shopping centers in Houston.

San Antonio[edit]

The article describing the Dallas Chinese population briefly references a historical Chinatown in the city of San Antonio.[174]


Men lounging outside saloon & Chinese laundry, Salt Lake City, 1910

The history of Chinese in Utah like other western states is closely tied with the Chinese history in California.[175] Much of that history is tied to the transcontinental railroad of the 1860s.[176] A Chinatown-themed mall opened in late 2012 in South Salt Lake.

Salt Lake City[edit]

Salt Lake City once had a Chinatown in a section called "Plum Alley". An old Chinatown existed on Second South Street in the early 1900s in Plum Alley and was torn down in 1952. According to KUED, around 1800 Chinese lived here and featured "... a network of laundries, restaurants, Oriental specialty shops..." and featured "... gambling joints, providing the social outlet for many of the lonely residents..." who were bachelors.[177]

A new Chinatown has opened in South Salt Lake as of late 2012, per the Salt Lake Chinatown website at 3390 S. State St.[178] According to the Deseret News, a new Chinatown is to be built in South Salt Lake.[179] Ground breaking was done in 2011 and will be completed sometime thereafter as a Chinese themed shopping mall. The mall will feature a "... 27,000 square foot Asian grocery store, 65,000 square foot indoor mall including 38 Asian themed shops and 12,000 square foot Asian-themed strip mall." Margaret Yee, a 1962 graduate says that "... 10,000-plus Chinese nationals living in the area have wanted [a Chinatown] for a long time...."[50]


The history of the Chinese in Virginia is mostly associated with Washington, D.C., as the riots of 1968 and then eventually high-technology job opportunities drove some into this state from Washington's Chinatown. Today, Falls Church, Virginia is home to many large Asian grocery retailers.

Northern Virginia[edit]

See the District of Columbia for more details.


The U.S. city of Richmond, Virginia has a "Chinatown-like" area on Horsepen Road that the author says is "... our downtown Chinatown."[180] Style Weekly says the Horsepen Road area is "... at the edge of one of the area's larger immigrant communities makes it seem like Chinatown South, especially on weekends."[181] Before this place existed, "... it used to be that you'd have to venture to Washington or New York to experience Asian cuisines."[182] According to the Richmond Times, the local Falun Gong held a "... meditation session, a news conference and a parade through 'Richmond Chinatown' on Horsepen Road "[183]


Washington state's history of Chinese started from the 1850s with coal mining, railroads, and other laborers luring them from China. By the 1880s, then Washington Territory had as many as 3,000. [184] Today, Seattle's International District was built in the 1950s and is home to many pan-Asian peoples.


Chinese New Year 2009 in Seattle

Seattle's current Chinese neighborhood came into being around 1910 when much of the former Chinatown along Washington Street was condemned for street construction. The Chinese population began rebuilding along King Street, south of Seattle's Nihonmachi. Chinese investors pooled their resources to build several substantial buildings to house businesses, organizations and residences, such as the East Kong Yick Building.

In the 1950s Seattle officials designated Chinatown as part of the International District (I.D.) due to the diverse pan-Asian population that, by then, included Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Koreans. By the late 1970s, Vietnamese immigrants also formed a Little Saigon next to Chinatown, within the ID.

There has been some controversy over the name "International District." Some local Chinese Americans reject the term, preferring the historic designation "Chinatown" for the area as a source of pride. Others, especially American born generations of Asians, accept the ID designation as more appropriate due to their embrace of the pan-Asian identity. Subsequently, the city redesignated the area the Chinatown-International District.


Olympia's small Chinatown is no longer extant. It formed initially on Fourth Avenue near Capital Way, not long after Olympia was founded. It moved in the 1880s to Fifth Avenue and then to Water Street in the 1910s. The remaining buildings were razed in 1943 after the last few residents departed. The city placed an historical marker at the site of Olympia's last Chinatown at the north end of Capitol Lake in 2004.


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 abandoned by the 1940s. All the remains of Chinatown were demolished for parking for Spokane's Expo '74.


There was also a significant historic Chinatown located in Downtown Tacoma. In November 1885 disgruntled whites drove out the Chinese population and burned down Chinatown. Recently, a special remembrance garden called the Chinese Reconciliation Park has been built a short distance away.[185]

Walla Walla[edit]

The U.S. city of Walla Walla, Washington was once home to a small Chinatown.[186]


Rock Springs Massacre

The state of Wyoming had three Chinatowns between 1880 to 1927. In 1927, all three Chinatowns had vanished due to the Chinese Exclusion Act.[187]


The Almy, Wyoming was the smallest of the three Chinatowns in Wyoming. This community was located seven miles north of Evanston's Chinatown.[187]


The Evanston, Wyoming was the most diverse of the three Chinatowns in Wyoming.[187]

Rock Springs[edit]

The Rock Springs, Wyoming was the largest of the three Chinatowns in Wyoming. This community was also located seven miles north of Evanston's Chinatown.[187] It was the site of the infamous Rock Springs Massacre, in which many Chinese died.


Fung Wah Bus Van Hool C2045 coach on a stopover.
Brooklyn-bound Q train,[188] with R68 cars in the New York City Subway system arriving at the Canal Street station in Manhattan, headed toward Brooklyn and stopping at Avenue U Chinatown along the way.

Inter-Chinatown transportation[edit]

Since 1998, discount bus services between Chinatowns on the East Coast and more recently on the West Coast have connected the communities and offered services often competing with non-Chinatown bus lines such as Greyhound. Although today they offer services outside of Chinatown communities such as State College, Pennsylvania, for example, the service was originally started by Chinese Americans that originally served only Chinatowns. However, as recent as 2011, fatal accidents have caused some of these services to be shut down.[189]

Subway stations[edit]

Some subway stations near Chinatowns bear the name "Chinatown", as in the Chinatown SEPTA station and the Gallery Place WMATA station.

Some also have Chinese characters displayed on the official station signs, as in the Canal Street New York City Subway station in Manhattan.


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]