Chinatown

By Taylor Telford

For Chinese Americans, home is thousands of miles across the ocean.

However, a community has developed in Southside Chicago that recreates the home they left behind.

Bounded by the Chicago River to the north, 26th street to the south, Clark Street to the east and Halstead Avenue to the west, Chinatown is primarily located on Cermak and Wentworth Avenue, and is home to approximately 6,447 Chinese Americans according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Rashaan Liddell, docent for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce said that Chinatown is a tight knit community that carries on the traditions of its homeland, including its cardinal values.

“One of the most important things in Chinese culture is filial piety, the absolute loyalty to the family,” Liddell said. “This has been adopted completely in China and has carried over here, to Chinatown.”

Both for its residents and visitors, Chinatown houses dozens of restaurants and shops that are representative of the area’s culture. Restaurants provide visitors a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine from a variety of Chinese subcultures and provinces, including
Lao Sze Chuan, winner of Culinary Awards such as “Best of Chicago” by the Chicago Tribune as well as multiple Bib Gourmand awards from the Michelin Guide.

The streets are lined with local landmarks such as the Nine Dragon Wall, a three-part wall originally built in China and then shipped to the U.S. Other landmarks include Zodiac Square, a pavilion in the center of Chinatown with Chinese Zodiac statues
and Chinatown Mural, a 100,000-piece mural constructed with hand painted tiles depicting the journey and lives of Chinese immigrants in America.

According to Liddell, Chinese immigrants built Chinatown to foster a feeling of comfort and familiarity for themselves in a new country.

“The residents of Chinatown built it to resemble home,” Liddell said.

This tight-knit community is friendly and diverse and provides a home for any

Chinese American who seeks one, according to Rui Ma, hostess at Lao Sze Chuan.

“It’s very diverse […] People are gathered here from many different cities,” Ma said. “For me, Chinatown Chicago is very friendly and everyone gets along.”

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