Since 1912, Chicago Chinatown has grown to build a community and help local businesses flourish. This year it celebrates its centennial anniversary. I went back for a visit to Chinatown and with my camera for an afternoon of delight.
A hundred years ago Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants were looking for a location to put down roots to create a neighborhood. In 1912, the area of Chicago that encompasses the streets of Archer, Cermak and Wentworth was affordable land. Chinatown is still to be a thriving, bustling city south of the Chicago Loop a hundred years later. It continues to welcome visitors from all over the world, and generations of relatives come back to visit families living in the area.
I see the shops, tour the Chinese American Museum’s special exhibit, sample a variety of food, and soak in the energy of the place. There is an “El” commuter train stop at Chinatown. I drove and easily found public parking. If you come by car, bring quarters, dollar coins or credit or debit card for the parking boxes.
The red gate that welcomes me to Chinatown is a landmark, as well as, the period architecture along Wentworth that was preserved for future generations.
Wentworth, the main street, is the artery of Chinatown with people pulsing on the sidewalk and shops, bakeries and restaurants line the street. The side streets off Wentworth have old row houses and more businesses.
There are many food options in town. You can dine in an expensive restaurant and casual cafe. If you are a budget gourmet, you can try the bakery with food to go and diner in the back.
I pop into Fieda Bakery for a fresh fruit freeze, coconut tart, and curry and chicken savory buns. I walk it off as I stroll through town.
The Won Kow building was constructed in 1928 and is an example of classical Orientalism architecture that you can view along Wentworth.
Are you seeking serenity, enlightenment? You can stop by the Buddhist Temple for a religious respite for the city action. All our welcome to the temple.
I decide to enlighten myself and seek a historical viewpoint at the Chinese American Museum on 23rd Street off Wentworth. The museum has a current historical photography exhibit of the community. I want to see the black and white photographs and other exhibits.
Enter the Chinese American Museum with me.
London is not the only town with bright red telephone booths. Wow, this phone is a dial-up.
Chicago is a big union town built by tradesman, and Chinatown is too.
An old Chinese lantern is an example of lighting pre-electricity. It’s a beautiful example art, form and function.
I personally use a combination of Western and alternative medicine. I’ve tried acupuncture, massage therapy and visited a herbalist. It’s worked for me. So, I found this exhibit particularly interesting. Herbal medicinal treatments are used all around the world, such as in Europe in apothecary shops.
If you visit the museum, be sure to watch the video in the theatre on the second floor. You’ll hear about Chinatown from the local residents and business owners perspectives. There will be surprises too.
Have you ever head about the Merchandise Mart in Chicago? This is exhibit offers a Chinatown view.
Puppet shows bring out the kids, and the kids in us.
I’m ending my brief photo tour of Chicago Chinatown. I walk under the big, red gate on my way out of the town. I pass by a memorial honoring Chinese American veterans who served our country, as I walk along the intersecting corners of Archer, Cermak and Wentworth.
Chicago Chinatown I wish you another hundred years of prosperity and growth!
To all of you good fortune during the year of the dragon, and may this year be more prosperous for you.