I was reading an interesting article the other day “Why My Favorite American Cities Have a Chinatown”. San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Seattle, and Philadelphia. Each city has a Chinatown.
Having lived in Asia for about ten years I have to admit I am partial to Chinese Food but even before this I would live in Chinatown (as a University student in Ottawa) or near chinatown (as a young urban type in Victoria). Living in Taipei, arguably the biggest Chinatown in the world – you see the Nationalist retreated to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war. The Nationalist were from all over China and as a result Taipei restaurants represent all areas of China.
The article “Why My Favorite American Cities Have a Chinatown” argues that Chinatowns were made by Chinese laborers building the railroads and that having a Chinatown marks a city as of the railroad era, built up before the wide deployment of the automobile. So really the reason why my favorite cities have a Chinatown is because I like old cities.
As an aside, I was recently in both Vancouver and Toronto and I’ve noticed that over the past thirty years the old Chinatowns have shrunk, lost vibrancy and more or less disappeared. Richmond is Vancouver’s new Chinatown and Richmond Hill is Toronto’s. I suppose this is true in most cities in North America and perhaps around the world.
One thing I’ve mentioned in my blog before as well is given the choice I’ll always live in a city with a university. Something about having a university improves the city. Perhaps having a university provides a stable economic environment, perhaps it adds to the cultural offerings of a city, I don’t know. I’ve lived happily in Waterloo for many years and we have two universities. I’ve also lived in Kingston, Victoria, Ottawa, Taipei, and Taichung – all university towns.