Landmarks & Tourism

Chicago’s Chinatown is on the near South Side, centered on Cermak and Wentworth Avenues. It is an example of an American Chinatown, or ethnic-Chinese neighborhood. According to the 2000 Census, Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas has more than 68,000 Chinese. Although smaller in size compared to New York’s Chinatown, Chicago holds the title for the second largest Chinatown in the U.S. due to fact that the number of people actually living and working in Chinatown is higher than that of New York. Chinatown does not have a set boundary, The Chinese expand quickly but Chinatown is located on Wentworth Avenue from 26th Street to 18th Street and Chinatown Square is located on Archer Avenue from Wentworth Avenue to Princeton Avenue. Chinatown is home to a number of banks, Chinese restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores, Chinese medicine stores, as well as a number of services that cater to people interested in Chinese culture. It is a community hub for Chinese people in Chicagoland, a business center for Chinese in the Midwest, as well as a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Please click on any of the major attractions listed below for more details:

Chinatown Square

Completed in 1993, this two-level retail / commercial center features a multitude of colorful shops and dining spots. The heart of the square includes the Pan Asian Cultural Center ringed by twelve beautiful bronze zodiac figures. Throughout the year, neighbors, city dwellers and out-of-town visitors enjoy celebrations and cultural performances in the plaza. Framing each end of the square are imposing bronze gates depicting the 4 greatest Chinese inventions.

Chinatown Gate

Completed in 1993, this two-level retail / commercial center features a multitude of colorful shops and dining spots. The heart of the square includes the Pan Asian Cultural Center ringed by twelve beautiful bronze zodiac figures. Throughout the year, neighbors, city dwellers and out-of-town visitors enjoy celebrations and cultural performances in the plaza. Framing each end of the square are imposing bronze gates depicting the 4 greatest Chinese inventions.
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Nine Dragon Wall

Dragons are sacred and are believed to have magical powers just like the number nine. Walk across the street from the Chinatown Gate to experience the power of The Nine Dragon Wall. Modeled after the most sophisticated wall in BeiHai (North Sea) Park in Beijing, the Chinatown mural replicates the large dragons and over 500 smaller dragons painted in red, gold and blue signifying the Chinese focus on good fortune. The Nine Dragon Wall is one of the only three such replicas outside of China.

Pui Tak Center Building

The Pui Tak Center Building on Wentworth anchors the bustling commercial district. Recently it was featured on the news as the winner of a $100,000 grant from the American Express Partners in Preservation. The Pui Tak Center won the grant in November 2007 by garnering the most votes over 25 other historic sites throughout Chicagoland. Built in the 1920s, the architecture showcases traditional Chinese design. Imposing green and red pagoda towers topped with walls of terra cotta flowers and mother lions truly represent the majestic traditions of China. Inside, the reception hall represented the one and only indigenous Chinese shrine in the Midwest. Originally constructed as the On Leong Association Building, this historical landmark became known as the Pui Tak Center (Pui tak means to cultivate and enhance virtues), which is a social service agency run by the Chinese Christian Union Church, a local Christian organization headquartered in Chinatown.
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Ping Tom Memorial Park

Situated along the south branch of the Chicago River, this 12 acre park was dedicated in honor of Ping Tom, Chinatown’s most prominent civic leader. Adjacent to an impressive 195 foot vertical lift bridge, the park is a tranquil rolling oasis inspired by a traditional Chinese walled garden. Stroll through its four distinctive spaces – an entry plaza, a playground, a memorial plaza and the riverfront plaza, that provide a vibrant public space reflecting the culture and traditions of this community. Other notable features include a Pagoda Style Pavilion and Chinese landscape design elements.

Chinatown Square Zodiacs

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There are twelve statues, one for every animal in the Chinese zodiac calendar. Unlike the Greek zodiac, like Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, etc. which are determined by what month you’re born, your animal sign in the Chinese zodiac depends on what year you were born.
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Chinatown Mural

This mosaic was finished at the same time as the rest of the square in 1993. 100,000 individually cut pieces of hand-painted glass were cut and painted in China specifically to be used in the construction of this landmark here in Chicago. The mural depicts the history of Chinese immigrants in the U.S as well as Chinese philosophies and social hierarchy.