America is a land of many different people and ethnicities. However, one of the most prominent of these is the community of Chinese Americans. It is possible to find numerous Chinese neighborhoods across the country and in this article you’ll find out all about the most important Chinatowns in the U.S. and where they can be found.
There are some 2.5 million Americans today of Chinese descent. Major Chinese immigration to the U.S. started as far back as the 1850s and many of these incoming people worked on some of the big infrastructure programs that made America the modern country it is today, most significantly the railroads. Whilst far from all of the people of Chinese descent live in the Chinatowns, these are still vibrant communities where corners of Chinese culture can be found far from the mainland.
If you’re traveling to the U.S. from China and have a B1 or B2 10 year U.S. visa, you must now register it with EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System). This system electronically registers visa holders to speed up entry into the country on arrival, whilst passing through immigration. All you need to do is make an application online by filling out a simple form and submitting some details about your passport and visa. In no more than 24 hours you can be registered to enter the U.S. multiple times for short term visits.
There are many Chinatowns found across the USA. These are mostly neighborhoods of recent or more established Chinese immigrants as well as a fair few other residents of mixed descent. However, these are not always exclusively Chinese communities. It is often common for other settlers of Asian origins such as Vietnam and Korea to be located amongst these neighborhoods too.
Some of the biggest and most important Chinatowns across the States can be found in major city centers, where many of the first Chinese immigrants arrived in the Americas nearly 150 years ago. These are perhaps the best places in the country to experience contemporary Chinese culture and sample traditional food and arts. The most significant of these Chinatowns include:
San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the USA. It was formed from the many Chinese citizens who arrived in California in the 1850s, seeking their fortunes in the California Gold Rush. Thousands of these intrepid prospectors arrived via the port of San Francisco. It’s, therefore, no surprise that San Francisco has not only the oldest Chinatown but also one of the largest. It covers an area of 20 blocks.
Boston’s Chinatown is distinct as it is the only one of its kind in the whole New England region. It can be found near the city’s theatre district and has its population which is 70% Chinese and 30% Vietnamese.
This is, therefore, a great place to find Vietnamese textiles, pottery, and cuisine. One of the must-see sights here in the district is its park which is full of plants and flowers indigenous to Asia and a beautiful river styled fountain.
The Philadelphia Chinatown is another of the oldest, best-established locations of its kind in the country. It was founded back in the 1870s and was first established by a number of settlers who set up laundries and restaurants in the district. It has continued to be a Chinese cultural center ever since and has also become home to many other immigrants from Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand.
This is one of the two greatest Chinatowns in New York City (there are a total of 9 Chinatowns found across the city). However, the Manhattan location is, in fact, the biggest overall in the United States. It is so big that it has the largest population density of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. It was first established in the 1940s and today remains one of the best places to try Dim Sum in the city of New York and a great place to find an amazing bargain in one of its many shops.
Chicago’s Chinatown can be found just 20 minutes from the center on the south side of the city. It’s easily accessible for tourists via a water taxi down the Chicago River from downtown and is currently one of the fastest-growing Chinese communities in the United States. One of the highlights is its ornate Nine-Dragon Wall based on the one located in Beihai Park in Beijing.
A Chinatown is an ethnic enclave of people of Chinese descent located outside of the Chinese mainland and territories. These developed during the waves of immigration of Chinese people to Europe and America in the 19th and 20th Centuries. They can be found in many other places around the world too, such as in Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand.
These small communities are distinctive not only for their cultural makeup but also with their unique Eastern architecture. They are also perhaps some of the best places in the States to try traditional Chinese dishes.
There are just under 50 Chinatowns across the United States. They are mostly found in the biggest cities across the country. However, in some cases like in New York State, Washington, and California there are multiple Chinatowns. The numbers of these communities have fallen slightly in recent times although many of the oldest locations are still going strong.
A visit to a Chinatown is the perfect way to enjoy one of the broad and vibrant mixtures of different cultures that exist across the 50 states. If you’re planning to visit one of the many Chinatowns on your trip to the U.S., don’t forget it’s essential that you register with EVUS before embarking on your journey. In just a few clicks and a short processing period, you can be all set to travel.