Art & Culture
February 13, 2014

The slow decline of American Chinatowns

From the BBC:

Rapid immigration led to the formation of US Chinatowns in the late 19th Century, though a long period of exclusion and discrimination for the Chinese began around the same time. The next large wave of arrivals followed the 1965 Immigration Act, but in recent decades older Chinatowns have shrunk.

The report on gentrification, published by the Asian American Legal Defense  Fund, finds that from 2000-2010 the share of the Asian population has fallen  from 48%-45% in New York’s Chinatown, 57%-46% in Boston’s, and 49%-30% in Philadephia’s, and that the share of the white population rose in all three cities. …

“Chinatowns are turning into a sanitised ethnic playground for the rich to satisfy their exotic appetite for a dim sum and fortune cookie fix,” says Andrew Leong, one of the authors of a recent report that charted gentrification in New York, Boston and Philadelphia’s Chinatowns.

Wellington Chen, who runs a community network formed to help the neighbourhood recover after the 9/11 attacks, thinks the focus on gentrification is misplaced.

“At the end of the day the narrow splitting of us versus them – the class differentiation, the gender, the race thing – that’s nonsense,” he says. “The best communities, just like the best individuals, are the ones that can adapt to changes very flexibly, nimbly, quickly.”

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