The Chinatown neighborhood in Philadelphia is a predominantly Asian-American section of the Center City district. The neighborhood is located between Vine Street to the north, Race Street to the south, 8th Street to the east, and 11th Street to the west. While it does span several city blocks, it is comparatively smaller to other neighborhoods like it in United State cities. Although Chinatown is a big tourist attraction, it is also a thriving neighborhood where families live, work, learn and socialize.
The Chinatown Friendship Gate, located at 10th and Arch Street, is a historic, internationally recognized symbol of friendship between Philadelphia and its sister city Tianjin, China. The Gate can be seen from blocks away, and was the first authentic Chinese arch to be built by Chinese artisans in 1984. The Gate is 40 feet tall, weighs about 88 tons, and displays mythical creatures and patterns from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Chinatown is home to roughly 3,000 residents. It has several of the top Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia, but many Malaysian, Burmese, Thai and Vietnamese culinary institutes as well. Besides the Arch, another popular attraction is the History of Chinatown Mural. Arturo Ho painted the mural to celebrate Chinatown’s 125th anniversary in 1995. The mural is located on the southeast corner of 10th and Winter Streets.
The neighborhood is not only famous for its restaurants and public art, but also for its ability to maintain a unique culture within a diverse city. China and surrounding Asian cultures maintain their cultural distinction because of the importance put on the practice by generations past. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century and continuing on for 200 years, China and surrounding nations cut their citizens off from surrounding society, bringing them into a period of severe cultural insularity. Because of the strong emphasis put on pure Asian cultures, many Asian-Americans still speak the language of their homelands and practice the traditions and customs of their native countries. Many immigrants also strive to instill the knowledge and beliefs of their home countries in a younger generation. This can be seen throughout Chinatown during such events as the Moon Festival and Chinese New Year.
Text Written by Taylor Duscha and Peter Adonizio
Photos Credited to Victoria Tatum and Bree Deibler
(2006). Tradition And Change In East Asia. Retrieved from: <http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072957549/student_view0/chapter27/>.
Fischer, John (2009). Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Retrieved from: <http://philadelphia.about.com/od/neighborhoods/p/chinatown.htm>