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Is Chicago the Most Underrated City for Asian Americans?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:09:30 PM)

t may be the nation's third largest city but to many AA Chicago is terra incognita. The first question it provokes is, Why would an Asian American want to live there? They are surprised to learn that, in fact, the greater Chicago area hosts the eighth largest Asian American population. Of the area's 8.4 million population, Asians comprise 5.4% or 450,000.
Most underrated AA city?

     Chinese began settling the area in 1870. Most were railroad workers at loose ends after the last stretch of tracks were laid on the Transcontinental Railroad. More began moving out to escape the extreme anti-Asian racism raging out of control on the west coast until the mid-1940s. Their first visible community was the area now known as South Chinatown on Chicago's South Side. At its height this original Chinatown, centered around Wentworth and Cermak, was lively enough to support 170 restaurants. Now, that number has shrunk to about 43, in part due to various redevelopment projects that cut the area down to less than a quarter its original area.
     The new wave of Asian immigrants that began arriving in the 60s and 70s has shifted the Asian action northward. A second Chinatown, populated mostly by Vietnamese Chinese, has grown up around North Broadway and Argyle Street. A few blocks to the west a Koreatown is emerging along Lawrence Avenue. Nearby Devon Avenue is home to thriving South Asian establishments. There's even a small Japanese enclave closer to downtown along Clark and Halstead, right alongside a budding Thai area. These ethnic enclaves give the Chicago area's Asian Americans a tangible connection to their heritages but they are home only to the newest of Asian immigrants. Most established AA have faded into suburbs like Skokie, Evanston and even Highland Park.
     Enough young Chicago-area AA professionals and students cherish their cultural ties to support the nation's only Asian American Jazz Festival, a popular annual event that draws healthy crowds. Other AA organizations include the local chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, the Asian American Artists Collective, an AA Film Festival and various student groups based in local university campuses.
     Chicago AA have begun to recognize the need to organize if they are to avoid becoming political casualties and orphans as during the various redistricting battles of the early 90s. But the Asian population remains dispersed, lacking the concentrations needed to consolidate political power in the form of viable candidates. This lack of concentration is the factor most often cited to support the view that Asians remain irrelevancies in the Windy City's socioeconomic landscape.
     Is Chicago really a cultural wasteland suitable only for Asians indifferent to their heritages? Or is it just the most underappreciated city among AA?

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not sure. just came to u.s.a. with my husband and daughter.
would like to meet some asian american people near plainfield, il for talking, playing majiang etc.
i'm a little homesick and don't know how to meet other chinese people.
wei li    Saturday, January 04, 2003 at 16:02:36 (PST)    []

I'm not going to drop down to your level of Chicago bashing and more inaccurate unsubstantiated numbers. You feel the need to quote more inaccurate numbers about Jewish people. You need to educate yourself about the human community and not see Chicago from your hate filled narrow etnocentric vision. I love all human beings and i am concerned about the entire human race.I will continue to be involved in the Asian American Community,Latino,and Jewish Communities.Our wonderful City Chicago has all of these wonderful groups and it is a great city for eveybody. Try to look outside your self absorption and you will see this.
Jew 4 Life
   Thursday, January 02, 2003 at 18:19:47 (PST)    []
Jew 4 Life:

Anti-Semitic statements??? Not from me. I was merely stating some facts. Some facts about Jews. Just like you continue to state facts and statistics about Asians. Perhaps neither of us truly know as much about the other as we do about our own. Perhaps it would behoove us to harp about the facts and harships of our own people.
Chitown Depressant
   Sunday, December 29, 2002 at 14:53:34 (PST)    []

To back up my numbers. chi-010812census-db.formprofile?coll=chi-newsinformation-hed

Please go to this website and you will see these numbers.

Percent of population that is Asian:


Glendale Heights-19.8%


Oak Brook-20.1%

Hoffman Estates-15%


Please use the link to verify my numbers.They are accurate. Enough said.
Jew 4 Life (Shalom)
   Friday, December 27, 2002 at 13:05:55 (PST)    []
I am a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area. Although we don't have the luxury of mass numbers of APIA's in Chicago, I am disappointed at how often I hear coastal Asians diss our community. Organizing is more difficult and the issues are different for our community, but I would not dare to make as derogatory generalizations about other places that I don't understand.

You say how racist other people are and then generalize that Chicago is "ghetto" with lots of "mean-looking black thugs." Newsflash: That is such a disgusting racist comment in itself. If you think Chicago is all white and farm-y or that it's all ghetto, THEN YOU DON'T KNOW CHICAGO. SO YOU SHOULDN'T DISS IT.

Apologies, but being downtown or in Lincoln Park is like just staying on the Upper East Side in NYC or some other super rich white part of SF and generalizing about the city from there.

If any of us are truly committed to building community and understanding across color lines, we can't flee at the first approach of racism.

You don't think Cali or NYC is racist? C'mon now. You know that ain't true. Chicago has a lot of rich history, culture, and diversity for those who are really willing to step out of their own box and experience it.
yellow chi-town girl
   Friday, December 27, 2002 at 10:03:03 (PST)    []
Chitown depressant

Please avoid anti-semetic statements. Please read the Chicago Tribune census for 2000. Schaumburg is and if you deny this you must have your own census system that is more accurate.
My wife is Asian from Asia. She experienced alot of racism as a Chinese person in Indonesia. More than the pathetic amount you have faced growing up in Chicago. She also lived in Wisconsin which is a true den of Racism. Chicago compared to a place like that is a picnic in the park. I speak through my wife's eyes and she sir has faced more racism and restrictions as a Chinese Christian in Indonesia than you have ever encountered.However, it is true that Chicago isn't California. However, you keep repeating your numbers which are false and it bothers me that you keep bashing Chicago when you have never lived in a racist place like Wisconsin.You need to develop a sense of perspective.I do understand that you have suffered prejudice.I feel awful about that and i don't deny that it exists.However, for the Midwest Chicago is the best place for Asians.To compare us to California or New York is just a stupid thing to do. We don't have the numbers yet to make some comparisons.Please keep this is mind. Once again did yopu look at the numbers in the Chicago Tribune 2000 census. Until you do please don't post lies or unsubstantiated facts online.
Jew 4 Life
   Friday, December 27, 2002 at 07:19:31 (PST)    []
Mr. Jew 4 Life,

You seem to know a lot about Asians, at least you'd like to think you do.

You said (and I quote you verbatim):

"Belive it or not Illinois is the most heavily Democratic states in the country and probably one of the least racist."

Yeah ok... sure. Like you'd really know about the racism that Asians encounter. Until you've stepped into an Asian mans shoes, you can't speak for us. I've lived in IL all my life and have encountered Racism more than I'd like to think about. I've lost track of the encounters I've had.

For your information, I also live in Schaumburg, and contrary to your claim, the town does not seem like 15% Asian. Not even close.

Maybe you should be more concerned about Jewish affairs, considering the worldly number of Jews diminishes yearly due to inter-marriage and low birth rates. If you want to get caught up with numbers, I've just read that close to 60% of Jews outside of Israel marry non-jews. That's potentially fatal considering most Jews live outside Israel and the world Jewish population stands at close to 12 million and decreases each year.
Chitown Depressant
   Tuesday, December 24, 2002 at 22:19:15 (PST)    []