The U.S. saw its first wave of Chinese immigrants around the 1849 Gold Rush. As the Chinese population moved eastward over the next few decades, along with the transcontinental railroad, Chicago’s first Chinese community emerged downtown, around Clark and West Van Buren Streets.
But as Chicago’s population swelled from 500,000 to over 1 million between 1880 and 1890, the growing Chinese community needed elbow room and a place to call its own. Many moved to the near southwest portion of the city, around South Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road, establishing what has today become Chicago’s thriving Chinatown, a densely packed, 30-block area with 27,000 residents and over 400 businesses.
While boasting an incredibly rich amount of activities to do year round, three community focused events that should not be missed are:
Additionally, one of the most popular shopping destinations is the Chinatown square, a two-level mall that houses a number of businesses and shops. Another cool area to check out is the Hong Kong Market, a grocery store that specializes in Asian food.
Of course, Chicago’s Chinatown offers visitors much more than interesting cuisine. Visitors experience an ancient culture whose people have endured over time and adapted the best of East and West customs and traditions into a true Chicago lifestyle. St. Therese Catholic School offers a perfect example of this melding, offering advanced academics and language classes in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
There are several parks in Chicago’s Chinatown area, but two of the most famous include the Ping Tom Memorial Park and the Sun Yat-Sen Park. The Ping Tom Memorial Park is known for its pagoda-style buildings and its beautiful location directly next to the Chicago River, making this a great place for watersports like kayaking. The Sun Yat-Sen Park is much more quaint, known for attracting groups of mahjong players on sunny days.