Years ago, they were dense neighborhoods in cities like San Francisco and New York, serving as refuges from racism, entry points to America, residential and cultural epicenters of Chinese-American life. This is the rule no longer. Many historic Chinatowns, like those in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., have faded. New patterns of Chinese migration send upwardly mobile populations straight to houses in the suburbs and job opportunities in cities far from the coasts. In those places, large Asian shopping malls and supermarkets are the gathering place. Some Chinatowns spring fully formed from the suburban asphalt, with pagoda roofs and paifang, or welcome gates, spearheaded by a local government or business association hoping to draw visitors.
“This ethnic community today is a spectrum, from the most concentrated to the most dispersed,” said Wei Li, a professor of Asian Pacific American studies at Arizona State University whose work focuses on the geography of ethnic communities. “What each one looks like depends on the geography of a particular city, and the maturity of the Asian population there.”
But in their own ways, they all fill cultural as well as commercial needs, she said.
The Chinatown brand, in fact, has come to mean something more than just Chinese. Later this year, “North Carolina Chinatown” is to open near the Raleigh-Durham airport. Even though developers are calling it a Chinatown, their design deliberately encompasses all Asian cultures."
Bonnie Tsui, Chinatown Revisited
Also, Dr. Li was appointed a member of the U.S. Census Bureau National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations and was awarded 2014 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors. She’s currently the acting head of faculty for ASU’s APAS program.
Walmart in LA Chinatown :(