Chinatown, Chicago

Our visit to Chicago included a ride on the L down to Chinatown. We just wanted to see it.

Chinatown Metra stop, Chicago

Our view of it began as we exited the train. It stretches out right there before you.

Chinatown, Chicago

Our visit consisted mostly of walking down and back up Chinatown’s main drag, Wentworth Avenue. We were surprised by how varied the buildings’ facades were.

Chinatown, Chicago
Chinatown, Chicago
Chinatown, Chicago

Ours were the only Caucasian faces out and about here this Sunday morning. While nobody appeared to give us a second glance as we walked and made photographs, I had a distinct feeling of not belonging.

Chinatown, Chicago

At least the Chinese Christian Union Church had a very kind word for everyone, emblazoned on the side of their building.

Chinatown, Chicago

Canon PowerShot S95


14 responses to “Welcome to Chinatown”

  1. J P Avatar

    We have not been to this area of Chicago. But we had a similar feeling last summer of being outsiders in the Pilsen neighborhood which is heavily Mexican. It helped a lot that we were accompanied by one or more Dominican brothers because they run the area’s main Catholic church and grade school and are accepted members of the community.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      To be plain, nobody made us feel unwanted. People ignored us. We just felt very out of place because we looked so different.

      1. J P Avatar

        Oh, we were not made to feel unwelcome either. In fact, there are some fabulous little restaurants there that are as authentic Mexican as you get in the Midwest.

  2. Dan James Avatar

    Love the “beautiful” sign! What does “a ride on the L” mean Jim?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The L is what they call the public train system in Chicago. It stands for eLevated, even though in some of the city it is a subway.

      A Beautiful sign in Indianapolis that’s been there for years:

      1. Dan James Avatar

        Ah thanks for explaining the train. Like the London Underground being known colloquially as The Tube over here. These signs are great, you can’t help but smile.

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Spent a lot of time in China Town in Chi when I lived there, it was fantastically cheap for dates, and seemed to never close; I remember shopping in trinket stores at 11pm-Midnight, still open and busy! Best food ever! You have me beat tho, I never took the EL there from the northside, especially not at night! Things might have changed since the 80’s-90’s, but you are “dangerboy”!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ll bet it was a fun date spot with all the food and little shops! We didn’t feel unsafe on the L. But it was a short ride and it was broad daylight.

  4. JoHawkTheWriter Avatar

    Oh, I love trips to China town. And the food! MingHin Cuisine is wonderful and Lao Sze Chuan if you like spicy. And there is a shop that makes steamed buns and the grocery store. Ok, now I am hungry.

    I have never felt out of place there, but I tend to just smile and say hello and people smile back. Did you get to Ping Tom Memorial Park? Or see the Chinatown Square Zodiacs?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s too bad we were there in the morning – we weren’t really hungry! We didn’t make it to the park but we did get to Chinatown Square and saw the zodiacs. I’m not sure why most of my photos from Chinatown Square didn’t turn out. Here’s one that did.

  5. susanJOY Hosken Avatar
    susanJOY Hosken

    Jim, Mostly I noticed your comment about not feeling like you belonged because you were a different ethnicity. I feel like that when I visit a suburb that is mostly Vietnamese. we humans are strange souls the way we separate from each other xoxo susanJOY

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s natural to group with people who seem like us. As a white person in the United States, I’m used to seeing people who look like me all around me.

  6. TBM3FAN Avatar

    Ah, the difference between a very multicultural state and one that isn’t outside of Chicago. Times are changing which some find to be a very hard pill to swallow. Try walking around Queens for one. I am used to wandering the streets of Manila, Bangkok, Singapore and Jakarta on my own. So wandering Oakland’s Chinatown, San Francisco’s Chinatown, what used to be the Mission District in San Francisco before gentrification started, a Vietnamese district, a Thai Sunday brunch, I have never given it a thought.

    Of course having friends/girlfriends from Asian to Latina to African American helped smooth the initial transition. My social circle now is Filipino as my wife is Filipna and the amazing thing about her is that she gets along with everybody immediately.

    If I had been there that morning the first thing I would have done is find a dim sum place for some dim sum and tea. Just walk in and ask hows the food today. Bourdain is very right about one thing and that is food IS the international language. It’s easy to learn.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You may have helped me understand why we felt out of place: we didn’t know “the ways in” (like a quick step into a dim sum place for dim sum and tea) and were just wandering around unsure. Fortunately nobody seemed to give us a second look. I’m sure they’re used to Caucasians with cameras gawking.

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