In 2011, when Jinxi Liu saw the Richland Center Food Court for the first time, it didn’t look like a welcoming place for new beginnings. Located in the basement of the Richland Center in Chinatown, the hall had been open less than a year and still looked mostly empty, with only a couple food vendors attending to their stalls. But to Liu, who had moved to the United States from the Chinese coastal province of Guangdong three years earlier, it nonetheless seemed like a promising place to start a restaurant of his own. In June of that year, with money he had borrowed from relatives and saved from working in various kitchens, he opened Yummy Yummy Noodles, the food court’s newest stall specializing in noodle dishes.
The evening of January 28 was cold and snowy, but around 150 people made their way up four flights of stairs to the grand auditorium in the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown for a 25th Ward aldermanic forum. The center serves as one of the hubs of the community, hosting English and computer classes, services for new immigrants, and a Christian school. With its terra cotta facade and handsome, finely detailed interiors, the building is listed on the register of Chicago Landmarks and in 2007 placed first among twenty-five sites across Chicagoland to win a $110,000 preservation grant through wide community support.
- Best Complimentary Dessert
- Best 100th Anniversary Celebration
- Best Youth-For Youth Undertaking
- Best Secret Garden
I was born in ’52. There weren’t a lot of new immigrants coming in, and at the time, everybody was being Americanized. In my family, we tried to keep the language and the culture going. My father wanted us to speak Chinese at home all the time, and we went to Chinese school every day for six years.
Standing among some quiet residential buildings on 23rd Street and tucked not far from Chinatown’s cluster of restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores on Wentworth is the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (CAMOC). Even with its doors flanked by two stone lions, hand-carved by artisans in China’s Fujian Province and donated to the museum by Chinese officials, CAMOC is pretty inconspicuous, and you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it. CAMOC is about as small as museums get, but contains much more than one might expect.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) revealed late last year in their 2017 capital plan that a new seventy-five million dollar high school would be coming to the South Side. Initially, CPS did not release the location of the new high school, and several neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Englewood, had been organizing and campaigning to be involved in the decision-making process.
The Goldilocks of American Chinatowns, Chicago’s Chinatown is not the biggest in the country, nor is it the smallest. Here, new and old blend together—old village dialects aren’t heard quite as frequently as Cantonese and Mandarin, but survive nonetheless. Historic buildings like the Pui Tak center stand shoulder to shoulder with new restaurants and bustling souvenir stores.