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Is Chicago the Most Underrated City for Asian Americans?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 06:09:26 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.
     Chicagoland 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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You are probably not from Chicago. If you are how can you say that Chinatown on Cermak is only one block long. I think you visied here from somewhere else and you had a bad experinece and now the whole state of Illinois must suck. You know that the Chinatowns in Chicago are far bigger than that and they also are loaded with great stores and places to eat. I frankly doubt your veracity and i believe that you are someone who lives on the coast with a typical new York to La mind set. Belive it or not Illinois is the most heavily Democratic states in the country and probably one of the least racist.The Asians located here are also among the wealthiest in the entire country.Please visit here once again and you will not make uninformed claims like Glendale Heighst is only 10% Asian. That is just flase and you know it.Chicago and Houston are two of the cities outside of La and New York that are also good for Asian People.
Jew 4 Life
   Monday, December 23, 2002 at 07:40:35 (PST)    []

Before you rant about my numbers. PLease go the Chicago Tribune census and check out my numbers. They are accurate. Glendale Heights is roughly 20% Asian.The numbers of Asians in Dupage County is over 11%.Once again please verify these numbers from any census.Chicago in the city isn't a wonderful place for Asians. However, the suburbs of Skokie,Glendale Heights, Oak Brook, Naperville, LIsle,Hoffman Estates,and Schaumburg are all at least 15% Asian or above.The ASians California type feel exists in the Asian Belt which includes Dupage County and the Far North West part of Cook County. So once again move from the city to these areas and you will love Chicago. To find a heavily Asian American area type in Chicago tribune 2000 census.Put in the city you are wondering about and it will give you the percentages of all the varied minority groups.This is what i did before i moved to the cHicago area. It made life for my wife very comfortable.WE live in Glendale Heights and it is very heavily Latino and Asian.Half of the population are minority people.To verify my numbers once again go the 2000 Chicago Tribune census.I would welcome anybody else to do so. I agree Chicago and Illinois are not West Coast. Howver, if you live in the Asian Belt the numbers are comparable.Move to that are and you will be very happy.
Jew 4 Life
   Monday, December 23, 2002 at 07:32:55 (PST)    []
That "Jew for life" doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. 20% or at least 12% in each of those cities???!! Yeah right!!!!!!!! Glendale Heights is slightly over 10% Asian, and that's by far the largest percentage out of any of those cities. The Asian population in Chicago is still very sparse. You'd be fooling yourself to think otherwise. It's only 5%, roughly, in the Chicago area and like 2.5% in the state of Illinois. And half of those are South Asians [Indians, Pakis, and Bangladeshis].

I've been to cities all up and down the West Coast. There is no Asian Social scene in Chicago, in comparison.

Our old KoreaTown along Lawrence is now predominated by Puerto Ricans and Chinatown is like two blocks long, one block on Cermak and one block on wentworth. Not to mention there is a Black housing project in the heart of Chinatown [Archer Courts].

Asians in Chicago and Illionis in general are nothing but a several grains of sand in a desert.
Chitown Depressant
   Friday, December 20, 2002 at 21:38:32 (PST)    []
Chicago should not be underrated! The head-count numbers here may be smaller than L.A. or NYC, but there is a quality crowd here...just check out the undergrad and graduate university campuses at either University of Chicago (Hyde Park) or Northwestern University (Evaston). For the most part, the Asians here are down to earth-in that midwest kind of way.

If you still can't find anything about Asian events to go to, or where the Asians are...I just found a pretty cool site. Check out -they've got a whole bunch of Asian events for young professionals.
Chi-City Girl
   Wednesday, December 18, 2002 at 19:31:11 (PST)    []
To AsianManFan:

You might want to check out the following show:
"Everybody Loves Ramen"
Runs through Dec. 21

Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.

$15; 773-327-5252
Friend of Asian Males
   Friday, December 06, 2002 at 13:15:46 (PST)    []
Also forgot to mention, new mall recently opened up called International Trade Emporium at the corner of Wentworth and Archer, right between the railroad and Chinatown Square. Lots of small vendors, quality stuff for cheap prices. Come out and support small businesses in Chinatown!
Chinatown Girl
   Wednesday, November 27, 2002 at 17:59:55 (PST)    []
Well, apparently most who have posted are northsiders or from the suburbs. So I feel the need to show my support for Bridgeport -- or where Southside Chinatown is located. Yes, it can be tough round here, broken car windows and such...but many Asians and tremendous amounts of Chinese food -- good authentic Chinese food. Just visit Chinatown Square, looks much better than Wentworth (but Wentworth is really improving). Also many new developments here, houses way cheaper than Lincoln Park, etc.
Chinatown Girl
   Wednesday, November 27, 2002 at 17:56:29 (PST)    []
Chicago is decent for asians. Many of the northwestern and western suburbs have asians in high degree. Some pockets in Chicago are also good. However, growing up in the chicago area my whole life, there are some things to be desired. There is your fair share of asians that want to be white, even to the extent of being ashamed of their own parents and anything that is asian, but that will probably change. There is no real political power so don't expect the asian voice to be heard anwhere except in a club or Prada store. Asians here are well educated but very self-hating at the same time. They congregate more or less out of comfort rather than any real solidarity. It's high school asian style. Be prepared to impress.
Uth Asia
   Monday, November 25, 2002 at 00:10:06 (PST)    []
I really appreciate the reader comments about which suburbs have a higher percentage of Asians. I'm close to Oak Brook, Schaumburg and Naperville. But, alas, as a Caucasian female who prefers Asian men, I'm having a tough time figuring out where and how to meet Asian men in their 40s/early 50s. Seems there are lots of younger guys in all the usual places but except for obviously married men, I'm clueless as to where the older guys hang out. Any suggestions? Please feel free to e-me or post here, I'll check back.
AsianManFan    Sunday, November 10, 2002 at 17:06:19 (PST)    []
Dear Los Angeles Latina,
Yes indeedy! There is such a thing as the "Lincoln Park Trixie" and it is kind of a scary phenomenon. The first time I heard about it, I thought they were prostitutes. They I found out they are just a bunch of fairly innocuous yuppies. Their website is here:
Sue in Chicago
   Monday, November 04, 2002 at 14:58:23 (PST)    []
I have a question for AA women living in Chicago. Does "Lincoln Park Trixie Society" really exisit? If so please tell me more
Los Angeles Latina
   Wednesday, October 23, 2002 at 10:57:53 (PDT)    []
Japanese guy. Why do you live in a area outside of the Asian belt? If you move over to Skokie it is over 20% Asian.I don't think a bunch of Jews and Asian people are going to jump you. Glendale Heights, Hoffman Estates, LIsle,NIsle, Schaumburg, Oak Brook,Gurnee,Carol Stream, Lombard,and the entire Dupage county region are heavily Asian.Northwest Cook county is also a wonderful place for Asian people.If you live in a place like Evanston that is only 3% ASian you will have trouble.Live in the Asian belt and it is like living in California.THe Asian population is at least 12% in each of those cities and in some case over 20%.I really doubt that you want to move to California because you have no clue that you live in a area that is considered a s***ty one for Asians. You must realize that you are outside the Asian belt. Move to Skokie,Oak Brook,Naperville,Lisle,Schaumburg, or Hoffman Estates and it will be a higher percentage of Asian people than the state of California. I'm a Spanish/Jew married to a Javanese/Chinese/Indian woman. We live in Glendale Heights and it is a wonderful place that is over 20% Asian and over 20% Hispanic and 5% African American and 15% Muslim.It is a wonderful multicultural city. Try it out and i gaurantee you will have no problems whatsoever. Word
Jew for life
   Saturday, October 12, 2002 at 06:23:34 (PDT)    []
i'm a japanese male in evanston. i've been here 6 years now and am looking forward to moving out of the chicago area. i remember reading that most physical assaults are against men not women. i didn't believe this until i moved here. i hang out mostely on the north end of chicago (rogers park and belmont area). on almost a daily basis i receive some sort of racial remark. i've been hit by two cars (hit and run from stopped vehicles at intersections) and have been jumped several times. its hard to defend yourself when its multiple attackers no matter what training you have. its sad to say that most of these people have been african american, full circle i guess. just returned from a trip out west. love it out there. should i expect the same where ever i move to next? with the many incidents here in chicago, i doubt my experiences are isolated events.
just trying to live
   Thursday, October 10, 2002 at 13:12:34 (PDT)    []
That area of Chicago is a great place to buy SouthEast ASian food. It is also a place that was founded by southeast asian chinese. thus it is called the second Chinatown.
Chicago ASian
   Wednesday, September 18, 2002 at 08:13:38 (PDT)    []
Does anyone know why that little section of Argyle in Uptown is called "the new chinatown," considering the fact that it's mostly Vietnamese...
Miss Thang
   Monday, September 02, 2002 at 00:01:27 (PDT)
Yes,Chicago isn't California.Hello. We are not 12% Asian we are 5.4%.If you want to see Asians everywhere you go live in Oak Brook,Skokie,Glen Dale Heights,Naperville,Schaumburg,or Hoffman Estates.These places are all over 20% ASian American.They are also located in the Chicago metro area.Our Chinatowns are also vibrant and a lot bigger than half a block. The person from California who visited went to the small Chinatown that is located on Argyle street. It is small but it a great resource for South East Asian people.The larger Chinatown is located on Cermak avenue and it has over 18,000 people who live thier 24-7.Chicago looks old because it is a old city.Asian Americans should move to Chicago where it is still open for Asian business and culture.Devon avenue is for Indian people and it goes on for blocks. It is huge.
Asian Chicago rocks.
   Friday, August 30, 2002 at 07:20:40 (PDT)