Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown
According to the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Chicago's Chinatown is the second largest Chinatown in the United States. The first Chinese in Chicago settled in the area around Clark and Van Buren in the 1870's. Most early settlers worked in laundries or restaurants. At the beginning of the 20th century most Chinese moved further south to where Chinatown is located today around Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue. By 1928 the building for the On Leong Merchants Association was completed. It was designed with many traditional Chinese architectural touches, and it can be seen on the far left of the picture of Wentworth Avenue to the left. Today it is Chinatown's only historical landmark and is known as the Pui Tak Center (pui tak mean to build character or cultivate virtue), which is a social service center run by the Chinese Christian Union Church (To learn more on the building and the Chinese Christian Union Church, click here). The largest influx of Chinese immigrants came in the 1950's and 1960's after the Communists took over the Chinese mainland. In 1975 the Chinatown Gate was built across Wentworth and can be seen in the lower center portion of the image above. Today Chinatown attracts many tourists to shop in the gift shops, to dine in the traditional Chinese food restaurants, and to celebrate the Chinese New Year each year.
Below is an image of the Nine Dragon Wall and the Willis Tower (when this picture was taken, it was still called the Sears Tower). The wall is located on Cermak near the Chinatown "L" station. The number nine and dragons are considered to be auspicious, and the wall is modeled after the Nine Dragon Wall in Beihai Park in Beijing. According to a plaque in front of the wall, the "Ancient Chinese believed 9 to be the most prestigious number and the dragon the soul of all things of creation. The Chinese consider Dragon as the emblem of Chinese national spirit."
Along the Chicago River northwest of the central area of Chinatown is the Ping Tom Memorial Park. Completed in 1999, the park is named for Ping Tom, a prominent Chinatown businessman. The park includes a pagoda-style pavilion, gardens, a playground, and Chinese-style pillars near the entrance.
To continue exploring Chicago, click on one of the links below.