Chicago's Chinatown

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Chinatown: Its culture, history, demographics and landscape

This research paper encompasses parts of Chinatown's culture, history, demographics and landscape. We will attempt to explain some of their beliefs and customs, as well as, link the present Chinese Americans to their past in Communist China. It's hard to remain objective, particularly while taking this class (COMS540), but in an effort to remain somewhat neutral, we will limit our comments to just slightly closer to being opinionated. We will first cover our visits; when we went and what we saw, move into some not-so-pleasant material concerning practices and communism. Speak on President Sun Yat-Sen. And finish with some proposed construction for the Chinatown area. We found the people to most accommodating and very friendly. We experienced some food, well for Richard (barbecued pork buns) a lot of food, and enjoyed our experience immensely.

Chinatown: Its culture, history, demographics and landscape

Diasporic History:
The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Chicago in the 1870s, long after the other Chinese had settled in California, Oregon and Washington. It began with the completion of the transcontinental railroad which recruited Chinese as almost 80% of its work force. When the last railroad track was laid in 1869 and work came to an end. Chinese population began to disperse to the mid-western and eastern states from the Pacific Coast where they originally concentrated. (

The first official report of Chinese in Chicago cultural group was could be traced in 1870 census report. Little was known about these settlers except they were residing in Morgan county of Southern Illinois. The largest influx of Chinese came in 1950s and 1960s, a time when communist took over mainland China in 1948 and when more lenient immigration law was practiced. Improved Chinese - American relation helped spur this immigration surge also. During these two decades the Chinese population in Chicago doubled itself from 7,000 to 14,000. By 1970, Chicago ranked fourth in Chinese population in America. The first Chinese community was built around the Van Buren and Clark Streets. (

Going into Chinatown made us aware of our ethnocentrism. We went into Chinatown thinking about the cultures heterogeneous and homogeneous nature. The Chinese immigrants created Chinatown, so younger immigrants did not have to “jump into the melting pot” of the United States. We didn’t stay in Chinatown long enough to have the opportunity for identity tourism. A lot of city officials employed a dialogical approach to the Chinatown community such as Chicago Alderman Danny Solis.

Our first encounter in Chinatown was for the China Day Parade. China Day Parade is a parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. The parade started at 24th Street Wentworth, north to Cermak then west to Archer. A total of 74 marching units lined up on Wentworth Street, including 22 floats, 2 dragon teams, 3 lion teams, 30 marching groups, 8 marching bands, as well as city officials and dignitaries.

The event was emceed by Fox Chicago’s, Nancy Loo and Gene Lee, deputy chief of staff at the Mayor's Office in Chicago. Nancy Loo's parents and brothers are first-generation Chinese-Americans from Hong Kong and she spoke only Cantonese until she discovered American television shows and started kindergarten. Her grandfather had come to America during the California Gold Rush and her great-grandfather had helped to build the Trans-Continental Railroad. Liu Hong, president of the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago and other City official were in attendance.

During the celebration of 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, initially we felt Chinese-Americans would not talk to us. After trying to communicate with the Chinese people in...
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