Chinatown 2017-04-18T17:05:49+00:00
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Chinatown Community Center

History Map Showing the Boundaries of All the Neighborhoods in Chicago

Chinatown is a neighborhood on the Near South Side that is a larger part of the Bridgeport community. The first Chinese immigrants started to arrive in the area came to escape the anti-Chinese feeling that was sweeping the West Coast. The First Transcontinental Railroad was a big reason that so many Chinese people were able to easily travel to Chicago. It was completed in 1869 and spanned 1,907 miles. It connected the west coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing railroad network in the eastern United States at Council Bluff, Iowa. By the late 1800’s Chicago only had approximately 600 Chinese residents, but 25% of them had settled in Chinatown around Clark Street.

The 1920’s saw the beginning of major developments in Chinatown. The community leaders obtained approximately 50 ten-year leases on property in the area. However, anti-Chinese sentiment was still strong in the area, so they needed a man-in-the-middle to secure the leases. H.O. Stone Company Jim Moy, decided that a Chinese-style building should be constructed as a strong visual announcement of the Chinese community’s new presence in the area. There were no Chinese-born architects in Chicago at that time so Chicago-born Norse architects Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad were contracted to design the building. They drew their inspiration after studying ancient Chinese texts, and when the building opened, it was considered the finest large Chinese-style structure in any North American Chinatown.

During the late 1980s, a group of Chinatown business leaders saw the potential for a lot of growth in the area. They bought 32 acres of property north of Archer Avenue from the Santa Fe Railway and built Chinatown Square. It’s a two-level mall consisting of restaurants, beauty salons and law offices, which is also surrounded by 21 town houses. Additional residential construction, such as the Santa Fe Gardens, a 600-unit village of townhouses, condominiums and single-family homes still under construction on formerly industrial land to the north. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the new addition was the creation of Ping Tom Memorial Park in 1999; located on the bank of the Chicago River, the park features a Chinese-style pavilion that many consider to be the most beautiful in the Midwest.

There are now more than 65,000 Chinese residents in the neighborhood making Chicago’s Chinatown is one of the largest neighborhoods of its kind in the United States. It has a vibrant and energetic culture that is reflected in the area’s many specialty shops, authentic cultural cuisine and signature landmarks, like Ping Tom Memorial Park and a Buddhist Temple.

What makes Chinatown so valuable to its inhabitants is the strong sense of community; for Chinese individuals in the neighborhood, it is what connects them to China itself. There are several organizations in place that work towards preserving a tightly knit community. The Chinese Softball League of Chicago, for example, organizes a summer softball league. The Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute promotes social and cultural events, while the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce helps promote small businesses in the area. The people of Chinatown work not only to preserve their culture, but to celebrate it as well. Festivals occur in Chinatown year-round; there is the Chinese Autumn Moon Festival, held annually, to celebrate the day when the moon is the brightest. You don’t want to miss what Chinatown has to offer; they can party with some of the best around! Make sure to stop by and enjoy all the wonderful food, sights and sounds that the neighborhood has to offer.

Demographics of Chinatown Neighborhood Chicago

Cuisine

Restaurants in Chinatown serve almost every type of Southeast and Far East Asian cuisine. The first immigrants to Chinatown opened restaurants, and some of these are still around; in this neighborhood, food is taken very seriously and there is something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to traditional Chinese food, or you’re just coming back from a six-month stay in Hong Kong, Chinatown has you covered either way. Chicago’s Chinatown is thriving and growing at a time when many Chinatown’s across the U.S. are not doing so well. A big reason for this is the pride the locals take in everything they do. Chinatown isn’t just a place to live and work for them; it’s a community. You don’t just have neighbors you say Hi too, or see the usual people on the street, it is more intimate than that here. People belong to social organizations and regularly try to better their area. You can see the difference when you visit.

For general Chinese food, try Three Happiness, Phoenix or Dragon Court Restaurant. Several restaurants boast cuisine of a specific country; Penang serves Malaysian fare, Hing Kee Restaurant and The Noodle both serve Vietnamese and The Moon Palace Restaurant serves Mandarin meals. You can try Pan Asian dishes at Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop and Szechuan at Lao Sze Chuan. Sakura Sushi is the place to go for sushi, while BBQ King Restaurant specializes in eat-in or take-away barbecue. Finish your evening at Tea Leaf Café, which is known around Chinatown for bubble tea, coffee and snacks.

  • Three Happiness – 209 W Cermak St.

  • Phoenix – 2131 S Archer St.

  • Hing Kee – 2140 S Archer Ave

  • The Noodle – 2336 S Wentworth Ave

  • Moon Palace – 216 W Cermak Ave

  • Joy Yee – 2139 S China Pl

  • Lao Sze Chuan – 2172 S Archer Ave

  • Sakura – 234 W Cermak Rd

  • BBQ King House – 2148 S Archer Ave

  • MingHin Cuisine – 2168 S Archer Ave

  • 2 Cai – 2100 S Archer Ave

  • Chi Cafe – 2160 S Archer Ave

  • Chiu Quon Bakery – 2242 S Wentworth Ave

  • Dolo Restaurant – 2222 S Archer Ave

  • Go 4 Food – 212 W 23rd St

  • Little Lamb – 2201 S Wentworth Ave

  • Phoenix – 2131 S Archer Ave

  • Qing Xiang Yuan – 2002 S Wentworth Ave

  • Triple Crown – 2217 S Wentworth Ave

  • Chef Bao – 2230 S Wentworth Ave

Nightlife

Where would we be if we couldn’t enjoy ourselves? We’re all social by nature and Chinatown caters to that need with a thriving nightlife. Stepping out into the neighborhood at night offers you a variety of options. You can visit local sports bars, small dives or trendy wine bars. There’s places that offer top-notch martinis and others that have low-lights with soft music that make it perfect for a date. The wealth of choices is one of the things that makes it so appealing.

  • No. 18 Karaoke – 2201 S Wentworth Ave

  • Pop KTV – 2002 S Wentworth Ave

  • 15/20 Lounge – 2428 S Wallace

  • Velvet Lounge – 67 E Cermak Rd

  • Sociale Chicago – 800 S Clark St

  • Kasey’s Tavern – 701 S Dearborn St

  • Jazz Showcase – 806 S Plymouth Ct

  • Villians Chicago – 730 S Clark St

  • Blackie’s – 755 S Clark St

  • Buddy Guy’s Legends – 700 S Wabash Ave

  • Hackney’s – 733 S Dearborn St

  • Umai – 730 S Clark St