Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community since 1870

Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community since 1870

Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community since 1870

Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community since 1870

Excerpt

And each time I roam, Chicago is
Calling me home, Chicago is
One town that won’t let you down
It’s my kind of town

—Lyrics by Sammy Cahn, music by Jimmy van Heusen

Chicago is a city of hope and promise. Situated in the heartland of America, favored with land, water, rail, and air transportation advantages, and populated by vibrant multiethnic communities, it attracts thousands of people from all across the country who seek to realize their dreams. Barack Obama, a graduate of Columbia University in New York, came to Chicago in the summer of 1985 and worked as a community organizer on the far South Side of the city, thus starting his political journey to the presidency. His historic victory in the 2008 presidential election was a spectacular manifestation of the fulfillment of the American dream through the promise of Chicago.

The vast opportunities presented by Chicago were evident to newcomers even more than a century ago. The city has attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from around the world; since the mid-nineteenth century, Canadians, Germans, English, Irish, Scottish, Swedish, Norwegians, Poles, and Italians have poured into the city over time, making it a truly multiethnic community. For the Chinese who first arrived in the 1870s, Chicago offered a growing and attractive economic landscape. Here the Chinese initially established a small but lively community in the downtown Loop area (the downtown business district coinciding with the old cable car service area). Chinese grocery stores, laundries, restaurants, and community asso-

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