Chicago’s Chinatown, one of the most thriving Asian communities in the United States, bucking a trend of gentrification and loss of identity.
CCTV’s Roza Kazan filed this report from Chicago.
Located a ten-minute drive from downtown, it’s home to more than 8,000 people and a bustling business community.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Chicago’s Chinatown grew at an astonishing 26 percent between 2000 and 2010. And 90 percent of people living here are of Chinese heritage many of them recent immigrants. That’s in stark contrast to Chinatowns in New York, Boston and San Francisco where immigrant numbers are declining.
Eddie Lau has been living in Chicago’s Chinatown for over 40 years. He believes most of the growth came with Chinese immigrants moving here from other U.S. cities. “New York or San Francisco, or California. They all move to Chicago because Chicago has a lot of opportunities,” he said.
And as Lau’s relatives found out, money can buy a lot more here than in many other big cities. “They moved here from New York and he told me all his savings he can buy a house here, a car here and also start a restaurant. And in New York, he couldn’t even buy a house,” Lau said.
Local leaders have also worked hard at forging community ties based on shared culture.
“We all really pushed to maintain culture here and introduce many of our traditions, Chinese New Year, festival, classes that teach Chinese, Kung-Fu,” said Bernard Wong, president of Chinese American Service League.
Sharyne Moy Tu, executive director of Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, believes location helps too.
“We are close enough to downtown that visitors to the city would want to come but far enough away that the developers would not want necessarily build the tall buildings and gentrify this area,” Tu said.
The city has invested in services, too, improving elderly care, transportation, and education.