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Chinatown, San Francisco. The oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.

In modern usage, a Chinatown is an ethnic enclave of overseas Chinese people by accepted definition. Chinatowns are present throughout the world, including those in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Australasia, and Europe.

In the past, crowded Chinatowns in urban areas were places of cultural insularity. Nowadays, many old and new Chinatowns are considered significant centers of commerce and tourism. Some of them also serve, to varying degrees, as centers of multiculturalism.[citation needed]

While some Chinatowns are focused on commercial tourism, others are actual living and working communities; many are in fact a synergetic synthesis of both. Chinatowns also range from slum ghettos to modern sites of up-to-date development. In some, recent investments have revitalized rundown and blighted areas and turned them into centers of buzzing economic and social activity. In certain cases, this has led to gentrification and a reduction in the specifically Chinese character of the neighborhoods.

Some Chinatowns have a long history, such as the Chinatown in Nagasaki, Japan, or Yaowarat Road in Bangkok, Thailand, both of which were founded by Chinese traders more than 200 years ago. Manila being the oldest was established even earlier. Honolulu's Chinatown is the first Chinatown to be created outside Asia.[citation needed] Chinatown, San Francisco was not only the first, but also is one of the largest Chinatowns to be established in North America. Other cities in North America where Chinatowns were founded in the mid-nineteenth century include almost every major settlement along the West Coast from San Diego to Victoria, BC. By the second half of the nineteenth century, bustling Chinatowns were also established in Vancouver, BC, New York City, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. The discovery of gold in Australia caused the establishment of relatively small Chinatowns in cities there, and similar migrations of Chinese resulted in tiny settlements termed "Chinatowns" being established in New Zealand and even South Africa. European Chinatowns, such as those in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, are for the most part smaller and of more recent history than their North American counterparts. Newer Chinatowns , such as Chinatown, Las Vegas in 1995, Dubai and Santo Domingo have also received official recognition recently.

In the past, Chinatown had also been used to refer to the Chinese sections of non-Chinese-administered cities within Greater China. For example, the walled city of Shanghai was referred to as a "Chinatown" because it was surrounded by foreign concessions administered by European powers.[1]

Chinatown's are often noted for their decorative arches, the largest of which outside of China is located in Chinatown, Liverpool, England.[2]


History of the earliest Chinatowns by region

The New York City area is home to at least 6 Chinatowns. The oldest Chinatown in New York City is centered on Mott Street in Manhattan.
Gate of Chinatown, Portland, Oregon

Trading centres populated predominantly by Chinese men and their native spouses had long existed throughout Southeast Asia. Emigration to other parts of the world from China accelerated in the 1860s with the enactment of the Treaty of Peking, which opened the border for free movement. Early emigrants came primarily from the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Fujian (Fukien, Hokkien)—where Cantonese, Hakka, and Chaozhou (Teochew, Chiu Chow) are largely spoken—in southeastern China. Initially, the Qing government of China was unconcerned by the emigration of this population as they were likely considered socially undesirable and "traitorous" to China. Trading and moneymaking was considered vulgar and consequently frowned upon in Confucian China[citation needed], in which Chinese migrants were intending to earn wages as sojourners. However, the Chinese were not strictly united as a group but were divided along sub-ethnic/linguistic lines and friction between those of Cantonese (Punti) and Hakka stocks were common occurrences[citation needed]. Generally, there were also mild but recognisable sub-divisions based on Chinese clans/surnames.

Taishanese and Cantonese settled in the first North American (United States, Canada), Australian, and Latin American Chinatowns (Cuba, Mexico, Peru)[citation needed]. Most of them were brought as coolies to build the railroad, but many had come originally in pursuit of gold. As a group, the Cantonese are linguistically and ethnically distinct from other groups in China with migrants especially coming mostly from the Siyi and Sanyi regions (with various variations of spoken Cantonese) of Guangdong[citation needed]; Cantonese remained the dominant language and heritage of many Chinatowns in Western countries until the 1970s[citation needed]. Due to laws in some countries barring the importation of Chinese wives[citation needed] (for fear of the perceived Yellow Peril), some Chinatowns emerged as bachelor's societies where males dominated and the male-to-female ratio population was generally skewed. In Latin America, many Cantonese-speaking migrants arrived as indentured labourers particularly in Peru (to work in the deadly guano fields) and Cuba (to labor in sugar plantations) giving those countries substantial Chinatowns[citation needed].

The Hokkien and Chaozhou (both groups speaking the Minnan sub-group of Chinese dialects), along with Cantonese are the dominant group in Southeast Asian Chinatowns[citation needed]. Chinese migrants also pioneered some major Southeast Asian cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and hence Chinese influence is felt there. The Hakka groups established Chinatowns in Africa (particularly Mauritius)[citation needed], Latin America and the Caribbean. Northern Chinese settled in Korea in the 1940s[citation needed].

In Europe, early Chinese were generally seamen who jumped ship and began to provide services for other Chinese mariners[citation needed]. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century the United Kingdom treated China as part of its unofficial Empire employing Chinese in its merchant marine in significant numbers. Consequently, from the 1890s onwards, significant Chinese communities grew up in London and Liverpool — the main ports for the China trade. However, these communities were a mixture of Chinese men, their British wives and their Eurasian children. Moreover, they were generally inhabited by those Chinese catering for Chinese seamen. The majority spread throughout these cities usually operating laundries at this time.

France received a large settlement of Chinese immigrant laborers, mostly from the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province of China (to this day, France continues to attract many Chinese immigrants from this particular province; Paris' newest Chinatown in Belleville is heavily influenced by such immigrants)[citation needed]. Chinatowns are also found in the Indian cities of Kolkata (once Hakka influenced) and Mumbai[citation needed].

By the late 1970s, the Vietnam War also played a significant part in the development and redevelopment of various Chinatowns in developed Western countries. As a result, many Chinatowns have become pan-Asian business districts and residential neighborhoods. By contrast, most Chinatowns in the past were solely inhabited by Chinese from southeastern China.

Historic Chinatowns such as San Francisco (see Chinatowns in North America#Northern California) has had a significant influence on the perception of Chinatowns in western countries. Although, in reality it and other North American Chinatowns fall outside the tradition of Chinese settlement in having significant numbers of Chinese women.


Yokohama Chinatown's Goodwill Gate
The Kuan Yin Temple (Kwan Yin Si) is a local place of worship for Burmese Chinese in Bago and serves as a Mandarin school for the local community.


Chinatown of Singapore.

Singapore's Chinatown centers around the major Eu Tong Sen Street and branches out over a large area onto side streets. It is served by Chinatown MRT station (Chinese: 牛车水 literally meaning "bullcart waters"). Near the station is a large covered shopping area primarily geared at tourists, although not far from this one can find local markets, bakeries, full-blown Chinese malls, plenty of restaurants, the night market on Smith Street, and several temples including the recently completed Buddha Tooth Relic temple. A curiosity of the Singapore Chinatown is that in the middle of it is the large Sri Mariamman Hindu mandir. Unlike other countries with Chinatowns, in which the population of Chinese origin is relatively low in number, Singapore's population is dominated by over 70 percent Chinese descendants. Hence, the "Chinatown" is not a center of immigration and inexpensive food but rather a center of celebration of Chinese culture and often more upscale in taste than outside it.

Kuala Lumpur

Petaling Street is the center of Kuala Lumpur's original Chinatown. It features restaurants and night-market style shopping with counterfeit designer handbags and sunglasses at bargain prices. Other products available are shoes, cosmetics, and clothes.


Yaowarat Road, Chinatown in Bangkok

Established in the 1700s, Chinatown is located in one of the oldest areas in Bangkok. It was set up by Chinese traders who came in junks to trade with Thailand (Siam) during the Rattanakosin period, about 1700s. By the end of 1891, King Rama V had cut many roads, Yaowarat Road is one of them. Therefore Chinatown doesn't consist of only Yaowarat Road, but also covers others such as: Charoen Krung Road, Mungkorn Road, Songwat Road, Songsawat Road, Chakkrawat Road etc. Yaowarat is the centre of the area.

Yangon (Rangoon)

Meaning Chinese Roads or Quarters in Burmese, Tayote Tan covers almost a fifth of downtown Yangon. The lay-out of Chinatown dates back to the British expansion of Yangon, around the 1850s, thus being as old as the downtown.


Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1571, trade between ethnic Filipinos and Chinese traders was already established in pre-colonial Manila. Manila's Chinatown is the oldest chinatown in the world, established sometime in the late 15th century. It is home to many ethnic Han Chinese who left the Chinese mainland for a home in the Philippines. Binondo is a stone's throw away from the District of Intramuros, which was the Philippine's administrative capital under Spanish rule. The district was within the range of Intramuros' cannons to quell any uprising the Chinese could have started. Binondo became a center of commerce during the American colonial era of the Philippines, since the Chinese were known to be experts in trading and finance. Banks, department stores, restaurants, insurance companies, nearly all giant commercial establishments were built in Binondo, the most prominent of which are located in the Escolta Avenue, though these are somewhat out of vogue and dilapidated today. World War II destroyed much of Binondo's commercial establishments. After the war, most companies relocated to Makati, the current central business district of Metro Manila.


With the overthrow of the Ming Dynasty by the Qing in the late 17th century, some Chinese (supporters of the Ming) fled to Japan and formed a Chinatown community in Nagasaki before the start of the 18th century, making it (along with the Binondo district of Manila of the Philippines) one of the earliest Chinatowns to be established. Under the isolationist policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, Chinese and Dutch traders and settlers were confined to Nagasaki. Trade was subsequently resumed with China and Shinchimachi became a trading hub. Shinchimachi has long been the ethnic Chinese cultural and commercial center in Japan, although it size pales in comparison to its counterpart in Yokohama.

Ho Chi Minh City

In the early 18th century, Chinese settlers established Chinatowns mainly in Southeast Asia, including the Cholon district of the former Saigon, Vietnam. Cholon was heavily fortified[citation needed] by Chinese to protect against frequent harassment by native Vietnamese Tay Son loyalists. It remains largely a bustling Cantonese-speaking enclave, comprising Districts 5 and 6 of the city, now renamed Ho Chi Minh City.


As shopping center, most of the vendors in Glodok are Chinese. Glodok is the biggest Chinatown area in Indonesia, and one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. The Chinese came to Jakarta since the 1600s as traders and laborers. Most of them came from Fujian and Guangzhou provinces in southern China. Centered on Pintu Besar Selatan Road, it has become a commercial hub for the relatively prosperous Chinese community. Assimilation between Chinese and pribumi made a language known as Betawi language. Administratively, the area is a kelurahan under the Taman Sari subdistrict, West Jakarta.


Many Chinese families used to live in the PECHS and Tariq area but have since moved to the higher end Clifton and Defense areas(Karachi-Pakistan).Many Chinese restaurants can be found in these areas. Chinese dentists can be found in Empress Market area. These dentists can be identified through the text "Chinese Dentist" prominently marked on their sign boards.Less obvious are Chinese operated businesses such as leather, handicraft and trading firms. Unless the owner is around, these businesses look no different from Pakistani operated ones.The Chinese populations tend to keep a low profile and have good relationships with the rest of Pakistan society. Perhaps the site where most of these interactions take place is in a Chinese restaurant.Chinese food is very popular and Chinese restaurants can be found all over the city as well as in almost all of the major hotels such as the Marriott, Pearl Continental, Avari Towers, and Carlton Hotel. Many of these restaurants are managed by Chinese or have a Chinese chef who have adapted to Islamic dietary requirements by offering Halal dishes. Without clan associations, temples or monasteries, Chinese businesses such as restaurants and dentists have come to symbolize Chinese presence in Karachi and their good relationship with Pakistan society.



Melbourne, Australia's Chinatown is located within the Melbourne Central Business District and is centered near 37°48′42″S 144°58′03″E / 37.8118°S 144.9676°E / -37.8118; 144.9676Coordinates: 37°48′42″S 144°58′03″E / 37.8118°S 144.9676°E / -37.8118; 144.9676 around the eastern end of Little Bourke St. It extends between the corners of Swanston and Exhibition Streets.

Melbourne's Chinatown was established during the Victorian gold rush in 1851 when Chinese prospectors joined the rush in search of gold. It is notable as the oldest Chinatown in Australia[1], the oldest continuous Chinese settlement in Australia, and the longest continuously running Chinatown outside of Asia. San Francisco's Chinatown was built earlier during the California gold rush, but it was rebuilt and repopulated after it was destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake[2]. Melbourne's Chinatown had remained largely unchanged by 1842.[3]

Other than the original Chinatown in the CBD, several newer Chinese communities are found in the suburbs of Melbourne, such as Box Hill (Carrington Road). Immigrants from Hong Kong have established there. Centro Box Hill is the primary shopping destination in Box Hill as there are many shops focused on Asian products and service.

Similar Vietnamese communities can be found in Richmond (Victoria Street), Springvale and Footscray. These areas have businesses owned by some ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, with most run by ethnic Vietnamese, and include associations as well as a range of grocers, shops and eateries offering Chinese and Vietnamese food and merchandise.

North America

San Francisco

As a port city, San Francisco has one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. It was formed in the 1850s and served as a gateway for incoming immigrants who arrived during the California gold rush and construction of the transcontinental railroads. Chinatown was later reconceptualized as a tourist attraction in the 1910s.[citation needed] Once a community of predominantly Taishanese Chinese-speaking inhabitants, San Francisco's Chinatown remains one of the most important Chinese centers in the United States.


Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and second oldest in north America after San Francisco. It is a tourist attraction and contains shops, markets, gallerys and apartments.


Vancouver's Chinatown is the largest in Canada.[3] Dating back to the late 19th century, the main centre of the older Chinatown is Pender and Main Streets in downtown Vancouver, which is also, along with Victoria's Chinatown, one of the oldest surviving Chinatowns in North America, and has been the setting for a variety of modern Chinese Canadian culture and literature. Vancouver's Chinatown contains numerous galleries, shops, restaurants, and markets, in addition to the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and park; the garden is the first and one of the largest Ming era-style Chinese gardens outside China.

Although only one neighbourhood is designated as Chinatown in modern Greater Vancouver, the high proportion of Chinese people living in the region (the highest in North America) has created many commercial and residential areas that while Chinese-dominated are not called "Chinatown", as in Greater Vancouver that refers only to the historic Chinatown in the city core. There is an abundance of Chinese and Asian malls in the region, with the highest concentration in the Golden Village district of Richmond.

New York City

New York City's metropolitan area now contains at least 6 Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, two in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown and the Elmhurst Chinatown), two in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown and the Avenue U Chinatown), and one in Edison, New Jersey.

Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia. Within Manhattan's expanding Chinatown lies a "Little Fuzhou" on East Broadway and surrounding streets, comprised predominantly of immigrants from the Fujian Province of Mainland China. Areas surrounding the "Little Fuzhou" consist mostly of Cantonese immigrants from Guangdong Province, the earlier Chinese settlers and in some areas moderately Cantonese immigrants. In the past few years, however, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.

The energy and population of Manhattan's Chinatown are fueled by relentless, massive immigration from Mainland China, both legal and illegal in origin, propagated in large part by New York's high density, extensive mass transit system, and huge economic marketplace.

The Flushing Chinatown in Flushing, Queens has become the second-largest Chinatown in the region after the Manhattan Chinatown. According to the 2008 American Community Survey Census figures, the ethnic Chinese population in the borough of Queens has grown to 178,755 residents, surpassing the ethnic Chinese population in Manhattan's Chinatown. If the current growth continues in Flushing's Chinatown, it will surpass the Manhattan Chinatown within a few years.

The Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past. However, in the recent decade, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants have been pouring in and supplanting the Cantonese at a high significant rate than Manhattan's Chinatown and is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants. In the past during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of new arriving Fuzhou immigrants were settling within Manhattan's Chinatown and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged in New York City within Manhattan's Chinatown, but by the 2000s, the growth slowed and is now hardly growing. As the Fuzhou population/community within Manhattan's Chinatown slowed in growth during the 2000s, the increasing Fuzhou influx shifted to Brooklyn's Chinatown and is now home to the fastest growing Fuzhou population than in Manhattan's Chinatown and all other NYC Chinese communities and is replacing Manhattan's Chinatown as having the largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou within Manhattan's Chinatown remains surrounded by areas that are mostly Cantonese populated and in some parts moderately Cantonese populated, all of Brooklyn's Chinatown is emerging into the new Little Fuzhou because of the Chinese community's smaller size than Manhattan's Chinatown and experiencing the highest increasing Fuzhou population in NYC and is also now replacing the one within Manhattan's Chinatown as being the largest Fuzhou community in NYC. Unlike Manhattan's Chinatown still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in the western/main section of Manhattan's Chinatown where the Cantonese residents have a place of gathering to shop and work, Brooklyn's Chinatown is quickly losing the Cantonese community identity.[4]

The Chinatown in Edison, New Jersey was legitimized by the opening of a successful branch of the Kam Man Food which anchors an entire Chinese Shopping mall. The Chinatown in Edison is centered around Rt 27 and is characterized by a high concentration of Chinese Stores in the area including the Mei Dong Supermarket and various authentic Chinese restuarants. However, recently, the area has begun to decline as Korean developers have begun to redevelop the former Topps/National Wholesale Liquidators shopping complex.


With one of the largest Chinese communities in North America, is home to 6 Chinatowns in the Greater Toronto Metropolitan Area (Chinatown, Toronto, East Chinatown, Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill and Agincourt). The historic Chinatown in Toronto and sits in the West-end of the downtown core. The first Chinatown took shape during the turn of the 20th century, as Chinese workers arrived from western Canada after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. With changes in immigration patterns since the 1980s, the downtown enclave has come to reflect a more diverse set of East Asian cultures, particularly evident in the variety of restaurants that offer Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines.

East Chinatown sits in the east-end in an area known as Riverdale, which is now considered part of the downtown core. Although smaller, Toronto's East Chinatown[citation needed] is growing and in recent years has grown in prominence in the media and throughout the University and young-professional crowd. Toronto's original Chinatown has become noticeably Vietnamese in character.


Chinatown, Boston Boston's Chinatown is smaller and focused on food, as almost every business in the roughly 4 blocks is in the food industry. There is a second Chinatown in Greater Boston in neighboring Quincy.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles's Chinatown came into being around 1880, at the site of the future Union Station. It existed there for about 50 years, eventually becoming a popular destination for gambling and opium use. The degeneration of the area led to the planning of a "New Chinatown", bounded today by Olvera Street and Dodger Stadium, to replace the old one, and the entire community was moved there (with the exception of a small alley, which stayed as a remnant until the 1950s) just before construction began on the station.

In popular culture, the L.A. Chinatown is probably best known for being the namesake of and the setting of an important scene in the Roman Polanski film Chinatown.


Though today very small, Victoria's Chinatown was once one of the largest in North America and was the second major Chinatown founded in North America, after San Francisco's. Begun in 1858 when thousands of Chinese headed north from the California gold fields to new discoveries in the Fraser Canyon, the population of Chinatown was up to a third of Victoria, which had become a city overnight. Today largely a small tourism district on the north side of downtown, Victoria's Chinatown has a paifang and various cultural institutions included a Chinese-language school, a college of Chinese medicine, and a benevolent association, and during the days of the Chinese Civil War had been the overseas headquarters of the Chinese Community Party.


Edmonton's Chinatown is the third largest in Canada and was established in the late 19th century when Chinese men immigrated to Canada to help build the Canadian Northern Railway. The main strip for Edmonton's Chinatown is 97th Street between 105A Ave and 108A Ave, but also includes the blocks surrounding the main strip, most notably 107A Ave and 101 St.


The Chinatown Gate in Chinatown, Chicago

What once used to be one street of Chinese restaurants and gift shops has grown to include housing developments, businesses and an outdoor mall.

Chinatown Square consists of restaurants, gift shops, doctor's clinics, groceries, banks, and other businesses such as insurance offices, hair saloons and eyeglass shops. Even though the area is constrained by the Red Line train at the east border, the Amtrak railway on the west side, 26th Street along the south end, and the empty railroad lot to the north, the area has grown outward toward McCormick (east), the Loop (north), Bridgeport (south/SW), and Pilsen (west/NW).

Chicago has one of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States and permitted the Chinese to maintain their own laws unlike any other Chinatown in the USA.

Chicago's Chinatown is about the same size as London's Chinatown. Chicago Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in the Midwest. Chicago and has more ethnic neighborhoods than London or New York City and Chicago is now experiencing a significant amount of Chinese immigration who now do not feel the need to congregate in one centralized Chinese district.

Current Chinese immigrants are scattering throughout the city however, most new immigrants are moving further South of Chinatown towards the south edge of Chicago. Currently most of the Chinese population lives in Bridgeport, which was once dominated by Italians and Irish. Now the population has moved with growth toward McKinley Park and Brighton Park and is moving to the south side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood.


When the first "Oriental" came to Detroit in 1872 and opened a "washee" on Beaubien and Gratiot Ave. in Detroit, the Chinese population rapidly increased in southeast Michigan. Gradually shifting to Third and Michigan Avenues in Detroit, the ethnic borough once distinguished as Chinatown reached a population of over 3,000 residents. The Detroit News frequently ran stories that highlighted Chinese celebrations, customs, and cultural practices—many of which drew crowds of non-Asian individuals both in and outside of urban Detroit. "Double Ten Days" (October 10), the Independence Day of the Republic of China, and Chinese New Year were often celebrated during times of economic prosperity in the enclave. However, both the Great Depression and the gentrification caused by a land redevelopment plan, that included construction of the Lodge Freeway and an eventually defunct plan to fund a multi-ethnic commercial district called the "International Village," suppressed the often expensive and public display of fireworks, theatre, or parade. After deliberations regarding the construction of an "International Village" halted, the Chinese population opened a string of new restaurants and stores along the Cass Corridor, stretching north from Peterboro St., south to the Masonic Temple. This sudden revitalization of community was quickly referred to as the New Chinatown, but soon crime and other factors stirred residents to the point of dispersal. Less than 100 Chinese Americans reside in Detroit city proper, although over 300 Chinese visiting students and scholars attend the local public university, Wayne State. The Association of Chinese Americans, an outreach center that serves both Detroit and satellite suburb, Madison Heights, is the only Chinese organization that remains operational in the geographic region once referred to as Chinatown, a now hollow stretch of vacant land and arsoned buildings.


There are two Chinatowns: the old Chinatown located downtown near the George R. Brown Convention Center and the new one located west of Bellaire in the Alief neighborhood along Bellaire Boulevard between Gessner and Dairy Ashford. Houston Chinatown is a place of food, Chinese groceries, films, souvenirs, and the offices of the Chinese Merchants' Association.


Seattle's Chinatown is part of an area known as the International District, adjacent to Pioneer Square.

Mexico City

A small Chinatown (Barrio Chino) exists on the calle Dolores (Dolores Street) in downtown Mexico City, just one block from the Alameda Park. It is a one-block stretch of street with several Chinese restaurants and shops. An annual Chinese New Year's celebration is carried out that includes a dragon dance. In addition, dozens of Chinese restaurants exist throughout the city, the vast majority owned by Mexicans of Chinese descent.

South America

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Chiantown is centered around Arribeños, Mendoza and Montañeses Streets, in the neighbourhood of Belgrano, Buenos Aires. Large numbers of recent Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese immigrants have settled in the area. Also included are ethnic Chinese from other parts of America and East Asia, and Asians of non-Chinese ancestry, mainly Japanese and Korean, whose first immigrants date from WWII and the Korean war.[1]


The Chinatown in Lima, is locally known as Barrio chino. There are over 6000 Chinese-Peruvian restaurants in Lima called "chifas". Peru is by far the country with the most Chinese restaurants in Latin America. The first 75 Chinese to arrive in Peru - to the province of Cañete and the department of Ica - arrived, to be more precise, in 1849. They came to work in the 'haciendas' along the Coast, at the time lacking labor force as a result of the liberation of black slaves.

Chinatown Lima Peru.jpg

But it is only since 1950 that reference may be made of a Chinatown in Lima. It was in those days that the 'calle' Capón was born; famous for its 'chifas' and their typical dishes from the Chinese provinces of Guangdong (Canton), Sichuan and Beijing; from where the majority of immigrants came, bringing with them their delicious and exotic dishes prepared with spices such as pepper from Sichuan and 'chempi', among others. While in Lima, visiting Chinatown will be worth for all interested in fusion and oriental food. Lima is the third city in the World out of Greater China in number of Chinese immigrants and/or their descendants.


Republic of Ireland


Ireland's only Chinatown is in Dublin. Dublin's Chinatown is located on Parnell Street. The city of Dublin holds an annual Chinatown Festival to mark the Chinese New Year.

United Kingdom

Entrance to the Liverpool Chinatown

Home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, Liverpool's Chinatown dates back to the early 20th century. At the beginning of World War Two there were 20,000 Chinese seamen based in the city and London's Chinatown was reduced to insignificance. Chinese sailors settled down with local women and in the war years the city's Eurasian population grew rapidly. By the end of the conflict it numbered around 1,000. With the end of the War the men were forcibly repatriated leaving behind them their wives and their children. Few were ever to see their families again.[5]

With the Communist victory in China in 1949, men were no longer recruited from the Mainland. Rather they came from Hong Kong and Singapore. Some did settle and marry local women but Liverpool's Chinese or rather Eurasian population had reached its peak and was in decline as they married into the local community. In the late 1950s a new group of Chinese began to arrive in significant numbers from Hong Kong's New Territories. For the first time Liverpool and London had Chinese Chinatowns and their mixed race past became forgotten.

The Imperial Arch located at the gateway of Liverpool's Chinatown is the largest of its kind outside of China and was constructed in Shanghai, one of the cities Liverpool is twinned with.


Similar in many respects to Liverpool's original Chinatown in its origins and the inter-marriage between local women and Chinese men, Liverpool's Chinatown never had the glamour of that of London. London's Chinatown was established in the Limehouse district in the late 19th century. Its reputation has come to define Chinatowns as exotic and dangerous with various vices, such as opium dens and gambling dens (called fan tans). Chinatown served as the setting for classic British anti-Chinese literature such as villainous Dr. Fu Manchu as well as a setting for the Sherlock Holmes story "The Man with the Twisted Lip". Its end came as Limehouse was destroyed during The Blitz by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. With an influx of new immigrants from then British possession of Hong Kong, a new Chinatown (mainly commercial) became established in the Soho district of central London in the 1950s and 1960s.


Manchester's Chinatown is the second largest Chinatown in the United Kingdom and the third largest Chinatown in Europe. It is located in east central Manchester and situated next to the Gay Village. The Chinatown, which is spread out over streets in the city centre has an archway, now dwarfed by the arch in Liverpool, was for a time one of the largest in Europe when it was completed in 1987.



During World War I, 140,000 Chinese arrived in France as temporary labour, replacing French male workers who went to the war. Most left after 1918, but a community of 2,000 stayed and created the first Chinatown (l'Ilot Chalon) near the Gare de Lyon. Nothing is left of it today.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Wenzhou Chinese settled in Paris and worked as leather workers near the Jewish neighborhood in the 3rd arrondissement. Taking over the wholesale trade lost by Jews during the German occupation of France during World War II, this Chinese community still exists today, but remains extremely discreet. No obvious signs of Chinese culture are to be seen in the rue du Temple, though most shops in this wholesale neighborhood are held by overseas Chinese.

Today's Chinatown was created in the 1970s in the 13th arrondissement. Fleeing persecution and civil wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, those overseas Chinese, mostly Teochew and Cantonese, settled in this newly renovated area. Unlike the Wenzhou settlement in the 3rd arrondissement, signs of Chinese culture are more likely to be seen and a strong business community has developed. An estimated 68,000 residents of Chinese origin now live in this area of Paris.

With China opening up, more Chinese settlements are developing in Paris and its suburban areas. In Belleville (20th arrondissement), another wave of Wenzhou have settled and has taken over this originally North African settlement. Large communities are to be found in small towns outside Paris like Lognes/Torcy, or Noisy Le Grand, where earlier migrants settled, but again without bringing out the usual signs of Chinatown.

Illegal immigration from China is booming; authorities also fear that France's "Authorized Destination Status" with easier visa procedures for China nationals will only increase uncontrolled migration. Illegal workshops have been existing for several years, without always being located within "official" chinatowns and still exist and flourish in different areas in the 11th arrondissement and outside the city of Paris.


The features described below are characteristic of most Chinatowns. In some cases, however, they may only apply to Chinatowns in Western countries, such as those in North America, Australia, and Western Europe.

(See also: Chinatown patterns in North America)

Entrance to the Chinatown, Sydney

Arches, or Paifang

Paifang in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Many tourist-destination metropolitan Chinatowns can be distinguished by large red arch entrance structures known in Mandarin Chinese as Paifang (sometimes accompanied by mason lion statues on either side of the paifang that greet visitors). They usually have special inscriptions in Chinese. Historically, these gateways were donated to a particular city as a gift from the Republic of China and People's Republic of China governments (such as Chinatown, San Francisco) and business organizations. The long-neglected Chinatown in Havana, Cuba, received materials for its paifang from the People's Republic of China as part of Chinatown's gradual renaissance. Construction of these red arches was also financed by local financial contributions from the Chinatown community. Some span an entire intersection and some are smaller in height and width. Some paifang can be made of wood, masonry, or steel and may incorporate an elaborate or simple design.

Chinatown, Boston looking towards the paifang

However, some Chinatowns that still do not have the arch feature are considering installing one, such as the Chinatowns in Houston and Toronto, as these arches are believed to increase tourist traffic. Additionally, work is being done by the Chinatown community of London to develop a new and more authentic Chinese arch on Wardour Street to act as a counterpoint to the Western influenced one on Gerrard Street (pictured above).

Bilingual signs

The street signs in Oakland Chinatown are given in English and Chinese.

Many major metropolitan areas with Chinatowns have bilingual street signs in Chinese and the language of the adopted country. Other public services are sometimes bilingual also (for example, banking machines; the Calgary Police Service began adding Chinese characters to patrol vehicles assigned to Chinatown in the 1980s to increase ties to the community).

Antiquated features

Many early Chinatowns were characterized by the large number of Chinese-owned chop suey restaurants (chop suey itself is American Chinese cuisine and is not considered authentic Chinese cuisine), laundry businesses, and opium dens, until around the mid-20th century when most of these businesses began to disappear; though some remain, they are generally seen as anachronisms. In early years of Chinatowns, the opium dens were patronized as a relaxation and to escape the harsh and brutal realities of a non-Chinese society, although in North American Chinatowns they were also frequented by non-Chinese. Additionally, due to the inability on the part of Chinese immigrant men to bring a wife and lack of available local Chinese women for men to marry, brothels became common in some Chinatowns in the 19th century. Chinese laundries, which required very little capital and English ability, were fairly prosperous. These businesses no longer exist in many Chinatowns and have been replaced by Chinese grocery stores, Chinese restaurants that serve more authentic Chinese cuisine, and other establishments. While opium dens no longer exist, illegal basement gambling parlors are still places of recreation in many Chinatowns, where men gather to play mahjong and other games. These shady gambling venues are featured, when portraying Chinatown, in the media such as an episode of The X-Files and the comedy film High School High.


Cooks at a New York Chinatown restaurant taking a break

Most Chinatowns are centered around food and as a result Chinatowns worldwide are usually popular destinations for various ethnic Chinese and increasingly, other Asian cuisines such as Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian. Some Chinatowns, such as Singapore, have their localized style of Chinese cuisine. Restaurants serve many Chinatowns both as a major economic component and social gathering places. In the Chinatowns in the western countries, restaurant work may be the only type of employment available for poorer immigrants, especially those who cannot converse fluently in the language of the adopted country. Most Chinatowns generally have a range of authentic and touristy restaurants.

San Francisco's Chinatown retains many historic restaurants, including those established from the 1910s to the 1950s, although some that lasted for generations have shut in recent years and others have modernized their menus. Many Chinatown eateries from that era specialized in American Chinese cuisine (or, depending on where they were located, Canadian Chinese cuisine, Chinese Cuban cuisine, etc.), especially chop suey and chow mein. They often used gaudy neon lighting to attract non-Chinese customers, large red doors, Chinese paper lanterns, and zodiac placemats. Often these restaurants had English-language signs written in a typeface intended to appear stereotypically "Chinese" by being composed of strokes similar to those in hanzi writing.

Generally, restaurants serving authentic Chinese food primarily to immigrant customers have never conformed to these Chinatown stereotypes. Because of ethnic Chinese immigration and the expanded palate of many contemporary cultures, the remaining American Chinese and Canadian Chinese cuisine restaurants are seen as anachronisms but remain popular and profitable. In many Chinatowns, there are now many large, authentic Cantonese seafood restaurants, restaurants specializing in other varieties of Chinese cuisine such as Hakka cuisine, Szechuan cuisine, Shanghai cuisine, etc., and small restaurants with delis.

Chop suey and chow mein eateries

Often lit by neon signage, restaurants offering chop suey or chow mein, mainly for the benefit for non-Chinese customers, were fairly frequent in Chinatowns of old. These dishes are offered in standard barbecue restaurants and takeouts (take-away restaurants).

Cantonese seafood restaurants

Cantonese seafood restaurants (海鮮酒家, pronounced in Cantonese as hoy seen jau ga) typically use a large dining room layout, have ornate designs, and specialize in seafood such as expensive Chinese-style lobsters, crabs, prawns, clams, and oysters, all kept live in tanks until preparation. Some seafood restaurants may also offer dim sum in the morning through the early afternoon hours as waiters announce the names of dishes whilst pushing steamy carts of food and other pastries across the restaurant. These restaurants are also used for weddings, banquets, and other special events.

These types of restaurants flourished and became in vogue in Hong Kong during the 1960s and subsequently began opening in various Chinatowns overseas. Owing to their higher menu prices and greater amount of investment capital required to open and manage one (due to higher levels of staffing needed), they tend to be more common in Chinatowns and satellite communities in developed countries and in fairly affluent Chinese immigrant communities, notably in Australia, Canada, and the United States, where they have received significant population of Hong Kong Chinese émigrés. Poorer immigrants usually cannot start these kinds of restaurants, although they too are employed in them. There are generally fewer of them in the older Chinatowns; for example, they are practically non-existent in Vancouver's Chinatown, but more are found in its suburbs such as Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Competition between these restaurants is often fierce; hence owners of seafood restaurants hire and even "steal" well-rounded chefs, many of whom are from Hong Kong.

BBQ delicatessens/restaurants

A display of Cantonese roast duck for sale in a delicatessen in Chinatown, Los Angeles

Also, Chinese barbecue deli restaurants , called siu laap (燒臘) and sometimes called a "noodle house" (麵家, mein ga in Cantonese; alternatively, 面馆), are generally low-key and serve less expensive fare such as wonton noodles (or wonton mein), chow fun (炒粉, stir-fry rice noodles), Yeung Chow fried rice (揚州炒飯), and rice porridge or congee, known as juk in Cantonese Chinese. They also tend to have displays of whole pre-cooked roasted ducks and suckling pigs hanging in their windows, a common feature in most Chinatowns worldwide. These delis also serve barbecue pork (叉燒, cha siu), chicken feet and other Chinese-style items less welcome to the typical Western palate. Food is usually intended for take-out. Some of these Chinatown restaurants sometimes have the reputation of being "greasy spoons" and reputation for poor service. Nonetheless, with their low prices, they are still patronized by both Chinese and any other customers on a budget.

To adapt to local tastes, the best Chinese Mexican-style Cantonese cuisine is said to be found in Mexicali's Chinatown (or La Chinesca in its local Spanish) or the Chinese Peruvian cuisine in the Barrio Chino of Lima.

Vietnamese immigrants, both ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese, have opened restaurants in many Chinatowns, serving Vietnamese pho beef noodle soups and Franco-Vietnamese sandwiches. Some immigrants have also started restaurants serving Teochew Chinese cuisine. Some Chinatowns old and new may also contain several pan-Asian restaurants offering a variety of Asian noodles under one roof.


A special feature of Chinatown in Lima, Peru (Barrio Chino de Lima) is the chifa, a Chinese-Peruvian type of restaurant which mixes Cantonese Chinese cuisine with local Peruvian flavours. Chifa is the Peruvian Spanish deriative of the Cantonese phrase jee fon (饎飯), which renders as "cook rice" or as "cook meal'". This type of restaurant is popular with native Peruvians.

Chinese Garden of Friendship, part of Sydney Chinatown

Street vendors

Besides restaurants, the Chinatowns of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore are noted for their street vendors selling local-style Chinese food from carts and stalls. They are also known as hawker stands and many have developed into hawker centers.


Most Chinatown businesses are engaged in the import-export and wholesale businesses; hence a large number of trading companies are found in Chinatowns.

Ginseng, herbs and animal parts

Small ginseng and herb shops are common in most Chinatowns, selling products used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Canadian government has stepped up policing of Chinese traditional medicinal stores and on a few occasions several Chinese stores in Vancouver and Toronto have been raided for products taken from the harvesting of rare and endangered species, such as tiger bone, bear paw and bear gall bladder.[citation needed] This has been alleged by some Chinese to be racial persecution, despite environmental and moral concerns.[citation needed] Other products sold in this trade include sea cucumbers, sea horses, lizards, deer musk glands, shark fins, swallows' nests, antlers, bear bile pills, crocodile bile pills, deer musk pills, rhino skin pills, and pangolin pills, as well as a wide range of mushrooms, herbs, bark, seaweed, roots and more.


Chinese stone lions at the gate to the Victoria, BC Chinatown

As with the restaurant trade, grocery stores and seafood markets serve a key function in Chinatown economies, and these stores sell Chinese ingredients to such restaurants. Such markets are wholesalers. Chinatown grocers and markets are often characterized by sidewalk vegetable and fruit stalls – a quintessential image of Chinatowns – and also sell a variety of grocery items imported from East Asia (chiefly Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea) and Southeast Asia (principally Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia). For example, most Chinatown markets stock items such as sacks of Thai jasmine rice, Chinese chrysanthemum and oolong teas, bottles of oyster sauce, rice vermicelli, Hong Kong soybean beverages, Malaysian snack items, Taiwanese rice crackers, and Japanese seaweed and Chinese specialties such as black duck eggs (often used in rice porridge), bok choy and water chestnuts. These markets may also sell fish (especially tilapia) and other seafood items, which are kept alive in aquariums, for Chinese and other Asian cuisine dishes. Until recently, these items generally could not be found outside the Chinatown enclaves, although since the 1970s Asian supermarkets have proliferated in the suburbs of North America and Australia, competing strongly with the old Chinatown markets.

Religious and funerary supplies

In keeping with Buddhist and Taoist funeral traditions, Chinese specialty shops also sell incense and funeral items which provide material comfort in the afterlife of the deceased. Shops sell specially-crafted replicas of small paper houses, paper radios, paper televisions, paper telephones, paper jewelry, and other material items. They also sell "hell money" currency notes. These items are intended to be burned in a furnace.

These businesses also sell red, wooden Buddhist altars and small statues for worship. Per Chinese custom, an offering of oranges are usually placed in front of the statue in the altar. Some altars are stacked atop each other. These altars may be found in many Chinatown businesses.

Video CD stores

Chinatowns may contain small businesses that sell imported VCDs and DVDs of Chinese-language films and karaoke. The VCDs are mainly titles of Hong Kong and PRC films, while there are also VCDs of Japanese anime and occasionally pornography. Often, imported bootleg DVDs and VCDs are sold owing to lax enforcement of copyright laws.

Street merchants

Street merchants selling low-priced vegetables, fruits, clothes, newspapers, and knickknacks are common in most Chinatowns. Most of the peddlers tend to be elderly (Cantonese: lo wah cue).

Benevolent and business associations

Benevolent associations have been associated with the Kuomintang. The flag of the Republic of China is still flown by most benevolent associations in San Francisco Chinatown, including these on Waverly Street.

A major component of many Chinatowns is the family benevolent association, which provides some degree of aid to immigrants. These associations generally provide social support, religious services, death benefits (members' names in Chinese are generally enshrined on tablets and posted on walls), meals, and recreational activities for ethnic Chinese, especially for older Chinese migrants. Membership in these associations can be based on members sharing a common Chinese surname or belonging to a common clan, spoken Chinese dialect, specific village, region or country of origin, and so on. Many have their own facilities.

Some examples include San Francisco's prominent Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (中華總會館), aka Chinese Six Companies, and Los Angeles' Southern California Teochew Association. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association is among the largest umbrella groups of benevolent associations in the North America, which branches in several Chinatowns. Politically, the CCBA has traditionally been aligned with the Kuomintang and the Republic of China.

The London Chinatown Chinese Association is active in Chinatown, London. Paris has an institution in the Association des Résidents en France d'origine indochinoise and it servicing overseas Chinese immigrants in Paris who were born in the former French Indochina.

Traditionally, Chinatown-based associations have also been aligned on ethnic Chinese business interests, such as restaurant, grocery, and laundry (antiquated) associations in Chinatowns in North America. In Chicago's Chinatown, the On Leong Merchants Association was active.

Annual events in Chinatown

Moon festival lantern parade in Chinatown, Los Angeles, 1954

Most Chinatowns present Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) festivities with dragon and lion dances accompanied by the rhythm of clashing of cymbals, clanging on a gong, clapping of hardwood clappers, by pounding of drums, and by loud Chinese firecrackers, set off especially in front of ethnic Chinese storefronts, where the "lion" character attempts to reach for a lettuce or catch an orange. The lion typically contains two performers and performances may involves several stunts. In return, storekeepers usually donate some money to the performers, some of whom belong to local martial arts affiliations.

In addition, some streets of Chinatowns are closed off for parades, Chinese acrobatics and martial arts demonstrations, street festivals, and carnival rides—this is dependent on the promoters or organizers of the events. Other festivals may also be held in a parking lot/car park, local park, or school grounds within Chinatown.

Some Chinatowns hold an annual "Miss Chinatown" beauty pageant, such as "Miss Chinatown San Francisco," "Miss Chinatown Hawaii," "Miss Chinatown Houston" or "Miss Chinatown Atlanta."

Dragon and lion dances

Like Chinese worldwide, the people in Calgary, Alberta's Chinatown perform dragon dances for good luck.

Dragon and lion dances are performed in Chinatown every Chinese New Year, particularly to scare off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the community. They are also performed to celebrate a grand opening of a new Chinatown business, such as a restaurant or bank.

Ironically, many lion and dragon dances are considered more preserved in true form in Chinatowns than in China itself. This discrepancy is attributed to the fact that traditional Chinese customs, including lion and dragon dances, were unable to flourish during the political and social instabilities of Imperial China under rule of the Qing Dynasty and were almost eliminated completely under the communist order of the People's Republic of China under Chairman Mao Zedong. However, due to the migration of Chinese all over the world (particularly Southeast Asia), the dances were continually practiced by overseas Chinese and performed in Chinatowns.

Ceremonial wreaths and leafy green plants with red-coloured ribbons strewn across are also usually placed in front of new Chinatown businesses by well-wishers (particularly family members, wholesalers, community organizations, and so on), to assure future success.

Names for Chinatowns

In Chinese, Chinatown is usually called "唐人街", in Cantonese Tong yan gai, in Mandarin Tángrénjiē, in Hakka Tong ngin gai, and in Toisan Hong ngin gai, literally meaning "Tang people's street(s)". The Tang Dynasty was a zenith of the Chinese civilization, after which some Chinese—especially in the South--call themselves. Some Chinatowns are indeed just one single street, such as the relatively short Fisgard Street in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada or the sprawling 4-mile (6.4-km) new Chinatown in Houston, Texas. However, most Chinatown are in fact multiple intersecting streets.

Chinatown entry arch in Newcastle, UK

A more modern Chinese name is 華埠 (Cantonese: Waa Fau, Mandarin: Huábù) meaning "Chinese City", used in the semi-official Chinese translations of some cities' documents and signs. , pronounced sometimes in Mandarin as , usually means seaport; but in this sense, it means city or town. Likewise, Tong yan fau (唐人埠 "Tang people's town") is also used in Cantonese nowadays. The literal word-for-word translation of Chinatown--Zhōngguó Chéng (中國城) is also used, but more frequently by visiting Chinese nationals rather than immigrants of Chinese descent who live in the Chinatowns.

In Francophone regions (such as France and Quebec), Chinatown is often referred to as le quartier chinois (the Chinese Quarter; plural: les quartiers chinois) and the Spanish-language term is usually el barrio chino (the Chinese neighborhood; plural: los barrios chinos), used in Spain and Latin America. (However, barrio chino or its Catalan cognate barri xines do not always refer to a Chinese neighborhood: these are also common terms for a disreputable district with drugs and prostitution, and often no connection to the Chinese.). The Vietnamese term for Chinatown is Khu người Hoa, due to the prevalence of the Vietnamese language in Chinatowns of Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Montréal as ethic Chinese from Vietnam have set up shop in them. Other countries also have idiosyncratic names for Chinatown in local languages and in Chinese; however, some local terms may not necessarily translate as Chinatown. For example, Singapore's tourist-centric Chinatown is called in local Singaporean Mandarin Niúchēshǔi (牛车水), which literally means "Ox-cart water" from the Malay 'Kreta Ayer' in reference to the water carts that used to ply the area. Some languages have adopted the English-language term, such as Dutch, German, and Bahasa Malaysia. In Malaysia, the term Chinatown is named under administrative reason. Instead, the name Chee Chong Kai (茨厂街)is preferred and agreed upon by the locals. Chee in Hakka means tapioca, chong means factory and kai means street. This is originated from a factory that was set up by Yap Ah Loy, a rich Kapitan (a Chinese immigrant who had administrative and political power under the British rule) that made tapioca. Chee Chong Kai is also called jalan Petaling or "Petaling Street".

Several alternate English names for Chinatown include China Town (generally used in British and Australian English), The Chinese District, Chinese Quarter and China Alley (an antiquated term used primarily in several rural towns in the western United States for a Chinese community; some of these are now historical sites). In the case of Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada, China Alley was a parallel commercial street adjacent to the town's Main Street, enjoying a view over the river valley adjacent and also over the main residential part of Chinatown, which was largely of adobe construction. All traces of Chinatown and China Alley there have disappeared, despite a once large and prosperous community.

Chinatowns worldwide

Chinatowns in Africa
Chinatowns in Asia
Chinatowns in Europe
Chinatowns in Latin America
Chinatowns in the Middle East
Chinatowns in North America
Chinatown patterns in North America
Chinatowns in Oceania

Chinatowns can be found across the globe, but are most common in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.

United Kingdom

Main articles: Chinatown, London, Chinatown, Manchester, Chinatown, Liverpool and Chinatown, Birmingham

Chinatowns in the UK are not heavily residential, the Chinese in the UK are relatively dispersed, and do not form ethnic enclaves as in many other countries, although the highest number are to be found in large cities and in the South-East. The United Kingdom has several Chinatowns, including the largest one in central London, located in the Soho area, established in the 1950s and 1960s. Other UK Chinatowns are found in the English cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Welsh capital Cardiff and a growing population of Chinese immigrants are present in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


London's Chinatown has Chinese restaurants and businesses. A new Chinese gate over Wardour Street marking the entrance to Leicester Square is planned. London's Chinatown is undergoing a £50 million planned regeneration.

There are plans to revive London's original Chinese district in Limehouse as part of the wider regeneration of East London. This area was bombed out during the Blitz in the Second World War causing a relocation of the few ethnic Chinese who had lived there to other areas.

Other Chinese-run businesses can be found in other parts of London, e.g. in suburban Croydon. At present, they consist mainly of a shopping centre with a major Chinese British supermarket chain as the anchor. One such centre in Croydon is called China Town Mall and has been built complete with Chinese-style architecture and gateway. Oriental City in Colindale, boasts a supermarket, a large food court of E/SE Asian cuisines, several other restaurants, a games arcade, herbal shops, masseurs, and a cultural performance space this has been closed for redevolopment as of 1 June 2008. Queensway, though a cosmopolitan blend of many cultures, also has a sizable Chinese presence and a substantial cluster of Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, and other businesses.

Chinatown, Manchester, England

Manchester's Chinatown on Faulkner Street is the second largest in Britain after London's Soho Chinatown. The Chinese British population, many of whom are immigrants from former British-ruled Hong Kong, has especially settled in the Greater Manchester area. However, Hong Kong immigration to the United Kingdom has leveled off over the years and there has been a rise in Mainland Chinese immigration to the country.


The Chinese Quarter is an area of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

It first emerged as a cluster of Chinese community organizations, social clubs, and businesses in the 1960s centred around Hurst Street, as a result of post-World War II migration from Hong Kong. The Chinese quarter was officially recognized in the 1980s. It is known for its Chinese restaurants; for the parade which is held there each year to celebrate the Chinese New Year; for the Birmingham Hippodrome; and for being the location of the headquarters of Wing Yip.

To the rear of the area is the Irish quarter which is located next to a large supermarket selling Chinese produce.


The Chinatown in Newcastle was primarily based on Stowell Street, but has expanded in recent years with many Chinese businesses in the surrounding area. The Chinatown incorporates the area from Stowell Street to Westgate Road. According to the BBC, Newcastle's Chinatown is also undergoing regeneration. A gateway costing £160,000 (€240,000) has recently been constructed by Mainland Chinese engineers as part of the plans.

Gateway to the Chinatown, Liverpool, England

The Chinatown in Liverpool in the Merseyside area is on Duke Street and is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe. The arch is also the largest of its kind outside of China.


The Chinatown in Leeds is small in comparison to the other Chinatowns in the country. It is situated at the northern end of Vicar Lane near Eastgate to the east of the city centre. Controversy arose when plans were drawn up for a shopping centre called Eastgate Quarters to be built over parts of the Chinatown. There are also plans to build a Chinatown arch.

A small part of the Leeds Chinatown

Sheffield has no official Chinatown although London Road, Highfield is the centre of the Sheffield's Chinese community. There are Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and community stores. The area is also the home of the Sheffield Chinese Community Centre. The Sheffield Chinese community is pressing for the street to be formally labelled Sheffield's Chinatown.

Northern Ireland


Belfast in Ireland has a large Chinese immigrant population. Although there is no formal Chinatown, the area on the street of Donegall Pass and Dublin Road exhibits the properties of many Chinatowns.


Garnethill in Glasgow has a large ethnic Chinese population, catered for by many local speciality shops, restaurants and social facilities.

In 2003, the city council of Aberdeen approved plans for a new Chinatown in the northern part of the city.

Artificial Chinatowns

The latest trend of Chinatowns has been to build-up artificial Chinatowns, constructed as Chinese-themed shopping malls in lieu of actual traditional communities. Examples are in Las Vegas, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Incheon (South Korea), Dobroieşti (Romania), St. Petersburg (Russia), Darwin (Australia) and most notably the Canadian Golden Village in Richmond, British Columbia.

There is one such mall going up in 2006 in Manila in the Philippines, in which the project is called "Neo Chinatown" and is to be developed in conjunction with Filipino Chinese and Mainland Chinese businessmen.[2]

See also


Further reading

  • Sons of the Yellow Emperor: A History of the Chinese Diaspora (1994) by Lynn Pan. Book with detailed histories of Chinese diaspora communities (Chinatowns) from San Francisco, Honolulu, Bangkok, Manila, Johannesburg, Sydney, London, Lima, etc.
  • Chew, James R. "Boyhood Days in Winnemucca, 1901–1910." Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 1998 41(3): 206-209. ISSN 0047-9462 Oral history (1981) describes the Chinatown of Winnemucca, Nevada, during 1901–10. Though many Chinese left Winnemucca after the Central Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869, around four hundred Chinese had formed a community in the town by the 1890s. Among the prominent buildings was the Joss House, a place of worship and celebration that was visited by Chinese president Sun Yat-Sen in 1911. Beyond describing the physical layout of the Chinatown, the author recalls some of the commercial and gambling activities in the community.
  • "Chinatown: Conflicting Images, Contested Terrain", K. Scott Wong, Melus (Vol. 20, Issue 1), 1995. Scholarly work discussing the negative perceptions and imagery of old Chinatowns.
  • Daniel Williams, "Chinatown Is a Hard Sell in Italy", Washington Post Foreign Service, March 1, 2004; Page A11.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Chinatown (film) article)

From Wikiquote

Chinatown is a 1974 film about a private investigator (Nicholson) hired to expose an adultery case, but his investigation turns into a mystery of elements: murder, betrayal, and water.

Directed by Roman Polanski. Written by Robert Towne.


Jake Gittes

  • Listen, pal. I make an honest living. People only come to me when they're in a desperate situation. I help 'em out. I don't kick families out of their houses like you bums down at the bank do.
  • So there's this guy Walsh, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife... So his friend says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?" So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?" And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit... then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting." So now, the guy goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads Life Magazine. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey." He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, "Hey, whats the matter with ya. You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!" [Laughs hysterically]
  • You're dumber than you think I think you are.
  • He passed away two weeks ago and one week ago he bought the land. That’s unusual.


  • Morty: In the middle of a drought and the water commissioner drowns! Only in L.A.
  • Man with Knife: You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses. [flicks knife, cutting open Jake's nostril] Next time you lose the whole thing. Cut it off and feed it to my goldfish. Understand? Understand!?


Mrs. Mulwray: I've never hired you to do anything, certainly not to spy on my husband. I see you like publicity, Mr. Gittes. Well, you're going to get it.
Gittes: Now wait a minute, Mrs. Mulwray. I think there's been some misunderstanding here. There's no point in getting tough with me. I'm just trying--
Mrs. Mulwray: I don't get tough with anyone, Mr. Gittes. My lawyer does.

Yelburton: After you've worked with a man a certain length of time, you come to know his habits, his values - you come to know him - and either he's the kind who chases after women or he isn't.
Gittes: Mulwray isn't?
Yelburton: He never even kids about it.
Gittes: Well, maybe he takes it very seriously.

Gittes: Mulvihill! What are you doing here?
Mulvihill: They shut my water off. What's it to you?
Gittes: How'd you find out about it? You don't drink it; you don't take a bath in it... They wrote you a letter. But then you have to be able to read.

Gittes: I'm not in business to be loved, but I am in business. And believe me, Mrs. Mulwray, whoever set your husband up set me up. LA's a small town, people talk. I'm just trying to make a living. I don't want to become a local joke.
Mrs. Mulwray: Mr. Gittes. You talked me into it. I'll drop the lawsuit.
Gittes: What?
Mrs. Mulwray: I said I'll drop the lawsuit. So let's just drop the whole thing.
Gittes: I don't want to drop it. I'd better talk to your husband about this.
Mrs. Mulwray: Why? What on earth for? Hollis seems to think you're an innocent man.
Gittes: Well, I've been accused of a lot of things before, Mrs. Mulwray, but never that. Look. Somebody's gone to a lot of trouble here and lawsuit or no lawsuit, I intend to find out. I'm not supposed to be the one who's caught with his pants down. So unless it's a problem, I'd like to talk to your husband.
Mrs. Mulwray: Why should it be a problem?
Gittes: May I speak frankly, Mrs. Mulwray?
Mrs. Mulwray: Only if you can, Mr. Gittes.
Gittes: Well, that little girlfriend. She was pretty in a cheap sort of a way, of course. She's disappeared. Maybe they disappeared together.
Mrs. Mulwray: Suppose they did. How does that affect you?
Gittes: It's nothing personal, Mrs. Mulwray.
Mrs. Mulwray: It's very personal. It couldn't be more personal. Is this a business or an obsession with you?

Escobar: So, tell me Gittes, how'd you get past the guard?
Gittes: Well, to tell you the truth, I lied a little.

Escobar: You look like you've done well by yourself.
Gittes: I get by.
Escobar: Well, sometimes it takes a while for a man to find himself. Maybe you have.
Loach: Yeah, goin' through other people's dirty linen.
Gittes: Yeah. Tell me. You still puttin' Chinamen in jail for spittin' in the laundry?
Escobar: You're a little behind the times, Jake. They use steam irons now. And I'm out of Chinatown.
Gittes: Since when?
Escobar: Since I made Lieutenant.
Gittes: Congratulations.

Escobar: [pointing to graffiti on the wall] Isn't that your phone number?
Gittes: Is it? I forget. I don't call myself that often.

Gittes: [on the phone] Hello, Miss Sessions. I don't believe we've had the pleasure."
Ida Sessions: Oh, yes we have. Are you alone?
Gittes: Isn't everybody?

Mrs. Mulwray: Tell me, Mr. Gittes: Does this often happen to you?
Gittes: What's that?
Mrs. Mulwray: Well, I'm judging only on the basis of one afternoon and an evening, but, uh, if this is how you go about your work, I'd say you'd be lucky to, uh, get through a whole day.
Gittes: Actually, this hasn't happened to me for a long time.
Mrs. Mulwray: When was the last time?
Gittes: Why?
Mrs. Mulwray: It's an innocent question.
Gittes: In Chinatown.
Mrs. Mulwray: What were you doing there?
Gittes: Working for the District Attorney.
Mrs. Mulwray: Doing what?
Gittes: As little as possible.
Mrs. Mulwray: The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?
Gittes: They do in Chinatown.

Gittes: Something else besides the death of your husband was bothering you. You were upset, but not that upset.
Mrs. Mulwray: Mr. Gittes. Don't tell me how I feel.
Gittes: Sorry. Look. You sue me. Your husband dies. You drop the lawsuit like a hot potato all of it quicker than the wind from a duck's ass. Excuse me, uh. Then you ask me to lie to the police.
Mrs. Mulwray: It wasn't much of a lie.
Gittes: If your husband was killed, it was. This could look like you paid me off to withhold evidence.
Mrs. Mulwray: But he wasn't killed.
Gittes: Mrs. Mulwray. I think you're hiding something.
Mrs. Mulwray: Well, I suppose I am. Actually, I knew about the affair.
Gittes: How did you find out?
Mrs. Mulwray: My husband.
Gittes: He told you? [She nods yes] And you weren't the least bit upset?
Mrs. Mulwray: I was grateful.
Gittes: Mrs. Mulwray, you'll have to explain that.
Mrs. Mulwray: Why?
Gittes: Look. I do matrimonial work. It's my métier. When a wife tells me that she's happy that her husband is cheating on her, it runs contrary to my experience.
Mrs. Mulwray: Unless what?
Gittes: She was cheating on him. Were you?
Mrs. Mulwray: I dislike the word cheat.
Gittes: Did you have affairs?
Mrs. Mulwray: Mr. Gittes.
Gittes: Did he know about it?
Mrs. Mulwray: Well, I wouldn't run home and tell him every time I went to bed with someone, if that's what you mean. Is there anything else you want to know about me?
Gittes: Where were you when your husband died?
Mrs. Mulwray: I can't tell you.
Gittes: You mean you don't know where you were?
Mrs. Mulwray: I mean I can't tell you.
Gittes: You were seeing someone too. For very long?
Mrs. Mulwray: I don't see anyone for very long, Mr. Gittes. It's difficult for me. Now, I think you know all you need know about me. I didn't want publicity. I didn't want to go into any of this then or now. Is that all?
Gittes: [After nodding yes, he remembers to ask one final question, holding up the envelope with initials "E C" for a return address] Oh, by the way, uh, what does this C stand for?
Mrs. Mulwray: Cr...Cross.
Gittes: That's your maiden name?
Mrs. Mulwray: Yes. Why?
Gittes: No reason.
Mrs. Mulwray: You must have had a reason to ask me that.
Gittes: No. I'm just a snoop.
Gittes: OK, go home, but in case you're interested, your husband was murdered. Somebody's been dumping thousands of tons of water from the city's reservoirs and we're supposed to be in the middle of a drought. He found out about it and he was killed. There's a waterlogged drunk in the morgue, involuntary manslaughter if anybody wants to take the trouble - which they don't. It seems like half the city is trying to cover it all up, which is fine by me. But Mrs. Mulwray, I goddamned near lost my nose. And I like it. I like breathing through it. And I still think that you're hiding something.

Yelburton: My goodness, what happened to your nose?
Gittes: Cut myself shavin'.
Yelburton: Oh, you ought to be more careful. That must really smart.
Gittes: Only when I breathe.

Cross: You've got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gits. I like that.
Gittes: Thanks.
Cross: If you were a bank president, that would be one thing. But in your business it's admirable and it's good advertising.
Gittes: It doesn't hurt.
Cross: It's, um, why you attracted a client like my daughter.
Gittes: Probably.
Cross: But I'm surprised you're still working for her - unless she's suddenly come up with another husband.
Gittes: No. She happens to think the last one was murdered.
Cross: Umm, how'd she get that idea?
Gittes: I think I gave it to her.
Cross: [about the fish served for lunch] I hope you don't mind. I believe they should be served with the head.
Gittes: Fine. As long as you don't serve the chicken that way.

Cross: Gittes. You're dealing with a disturbed woman who's just lost her husband. I don't want her taken advantage of. Sit down.
Gittes: What for?
Cross: You may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't. [Gittes smiles] Why is that funny?
Gittes: It's what the district attorney used to tell me in Chinatown.
Cross: Yeah? Was he right? Exactly what do you know about me? Sit down.
Gittes: Mainly that you're rich, and too respectable to want your name in the newspapers.
Cross: 'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

Loach: What happened to your nose, Gittes? Somebody slam a bedroom window on it?
Gittes: Nope, your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick. You understand what I mean, pal?

Gittes: A memorial service was held at the Mar Vista Inn today for Jasper Lamar Crabb. He passed away two weeks ago.
Mrs. Mulwray: Why is that unusual?
Gittes: He passed away two weeks ago and one week ago he bought the land. That's unusual.

Gittes: There's no time to be shocked by the truth. The coroner's report proves that he had salt water in his lungs when he was killed. Just take my word for it, all right? Now, I want to know how it happened, and I want to know why, and I want to know before Escobar gets here because I don't want to lose my license...I want to make it easy for ya. You were jealous. You had a fight. He fell. He hit his head. It was an accident but his girl is a witness. So you had to shut her up. You don't have the guts to harm her, but you got the money to keep her mouth shut. Who is she? And don't give me that crap about your sister because you don't have a sister.
Mrs. Mulwray: I'll tell you. I'll tell you the truth.
Gittes: Good. What's her name?
Mrs. Mulwray: Katherine.
Gittes: Katherine who?
Mrs. Mulwray: She's my daughter.
[Gittes slaps Mulwray.]
Gittes: I said I want the truth.
Mrs. Mulwray: She's my sister.
[He slaps her again.]
Mrs. Mulwray: She's my daughter.
[Another slap.]
Mrs. Mulwray: My sister, my daughter.
[Two more slaps.]
Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Mrs. Mulwray: She's my sister and my daughter!...My father and I - understand? Or is it too tough for you?
Jake: He raped you?

Cross: What does it mean?
Gittes: That you killed Hollis Mulwray - right here - in that pond. You drowned him, and you left these [the bifocals]. Coroner's report shows Mulwray had saltwater in his lungs.
Cross: Hollis was always fascinated by tidepools. You know what he used to say?...That's where life begins. Sloughs, tidepools. When he first come out here, he figured if you dumped water into the desert sand and let it percolate down to the bedrock, it would stay there instead of evaporate the way it does in most reservoirs. You only lose 20% instead of 70 or 80. He made this city.
Gittes: That's what you were going to do in the valley.
Cross: That's what I am doing. If the bond issue passes Tuesday, there'll be eight million dollars to build an aqueduct and reservoir. I'm doing it.
Gittes: Gonna be a lot of irate citizens when they find out that they're paying for water that they're not gonna get.
Cross: Oh, that's all taken care of. You see, Mr. Gits. Either you bring the water to LA or you bring LA to the water.
Gittes: How you gonna do that?
Cross: By incorporating the valley into the city. Simple as that.
Gittes: How much are you worth?
Cross: I've no idea. How much do you want?
Gittes: I just want to know what you're worth. Over ten million?
Cross: Oh my, yes!
Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can't already afford?
Cross: The future, Mr. Gits - the future! Now where's the girl. I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Gittes: Who do you blame for that - her?
Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gits. Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time, the right place, they're capable of anything.

Gittes: Evelyn, put that gun away. Let the police handle this.
Mrs. Mulwray: He owns the police!


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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



China + town

Proper noun


  1. A district of a city or town (in a country other than China) in which there is a large concentration of Chinese residents and businesses.

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