Report: Chinatowns Still Disappearing

Philly may buck trend.

A report released two weeks ago confirms what people have been worrying about for a few years: That Chinatowns are a dying breed and that their death will lead to our beloved neighborhoods turning into only nominally distinct zones that all have the same pastel designs on their storefronts.

The study, “Chinatown: Then & Now, Gentrification and Displacement on the East Coast,” relied on planning and urban-studies researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

It showed that in Boston’s Chinatown, Asians have become a minority. New York’s Chinatown is saturated with hotels. In Philadelphia, the median price of a Chinatown home has nearly quadrupled in 20 years.

Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation was sanguine, though. “I believe that Chinatown’s prospects are very good,” executive director John Chin told the paper. And it’s something along the lines of what he has told me in the past. PCDC is often lauded for being an incredibly vocal group against issues ranging from eminent domain to casinos, and the rising costs of homes in Chinatown may be hedged by the amount of affordable housing the PCDC has helped fund and construct.

This also isn’t the first doomsaying surrounding our nation’s Chinatowns. The last time their threatened status made news wasn’t surrounding gentrification, but the growing lack of interest in moving to America. As it turns out, a lot of Chinese would rather just stay put, what with this now being a terrible place to find work and everything. [Inquirer]


Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.