Tourism, taxes and Chinatown’s Evolving Future

By Evy Reyes and Nycole Stoudt

Pat Jan at Judy’s Cosmetics in Chinatown Square says that on her daily commute, she parks near Ping Tom Memorial Park.

“I see a lot of people coming in from downtown catching the water taxi and they’ll come here to eat,” she said.

It’s no secret that Chinatown is the place to go for Chinese food in Chicago, and those coming to the area are not always sure where to go, and according to Jan, people are frequently, “wandering around” and “stopping me to ask me directions ya know to the restaurants cause they can’t really find it on the map because the way the streets are named.” 




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This is a Chicago Water taxi that people use to get to Chinatown. Photo Via: Chicago Water Taxi

But Chinatown is also a community in transition. Immigration, taxation, and a love of Chinese food and culture are contributing to the evolution of Chinatown, helping to keep the community grounded to its Asian roots, while other Chinatown’s across the country have seen major decline. According to the U.S. Census information obtained from the City of Chicago website, in 1990 the population of Chinatown was 10,801 with 5,647 of those residents being Asian. Most recent published data attained was for 2000 where the population had an 11% increase, or 12,032 residents in total, increasing its Asian population to 7,324.

MCCB Grill manager, Kai Liang, has worked in the area since 1998, and says the food scene is changing with a new pattern in immigrants from China to Chicago.

Liang said many of the Chinese immigrants that have come to the area in the past have been from Southern China, near Hong Kong and most are Cantonese. He said now there are more immigrants coming from different areas of China, opening up the Chinatown food scene to more regional options from the Szechuan and Mandarin regions as well.

This adds to the already stiff competition of restaurants vying for business to keep up with increasing rents. When asked if he’s seen many restaurants close in the neighborhood, Liang responded, “Oh yeah, a lot, because of the rent. They double the rent, almost double the rent. Still people rent. Still people want to rent and give it a shot for business.”

Chinatown is witnessing the addition of new hotels, condo buildings, and parks. When asked how he things these new businesses will affect the residents of Chinatown, Simon Leung, Associate Director at the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce said, “New, modern developments, especially of high tiered rankings can bring additional tourism.” He also notes that these new developments will “increase property values, which may deter new immigration, and current and future residents.”

Jan said she has seen an increase in tourism coming from O’Hare as well.

 “We’re getting a lot more tourism here in Chinatown from O’Hare Airport, people who have a layover can just jump on the Blue Line,” she said.

While many souvenir shops have shut their doors, and restaurants struggle to stay open, Jan sees the internet as more of an enemy to her business than new developments. In regards to her store Jan says she has seen more foot traffic, but business, “business is hard to say, retail with the internet that’s like a completely different story.”

Jan said increases in rent haven’t been as big of an issue for the business owners in Chinatown, rather a city program known as the Special Services Area Program is the main problem. 

“The only thing we were trying to fight was the SSA that they were trying to impose here,” she said. “A special service tax that they were trying to impose here.”

 If approved by City Hall any organization that petitions the city and is approved can receive money from the city for services to “beautify” designated regions, with nominal oversight from the city. 

The additional layer of taxes can be used for anything from advertising to waste receptacles. According to Jan, the group that applied for SSA approval in Chinatown proposed a $10,000 billboard. 

Jan said, “one of the items they wanted these taxes to pay for is to pay for a $10,000 billboard in Chinatown to draw people in, how does a $10,000 billboard in Chinatown draw people in when you have to come to Chinatown to see the billboard?”

To the dismay of many business owners in the area, the SSA vote passed and will be in effect for the next ten years. In an article written by the Gazette Chicago, a major opponent to the SSA and United Chinatown Organization member, Robert Hoy, said, “Nothing is measurable, so how can they [proponents] be held accountable?”

The proponents argue that the benefit of the additional taxation will be witnessed around the area in a variety of ways, including but not limited to the power washing of roads and streets, adding garbage bins around the area and funding some of the larger events in the neighborhood, such as the Chinatown Summer Fair and the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy.

Jan says, they want to, “put garbage cans everywhere, litter the place of garbage cans.” At a cost of $12,000 to business owners and taxpayers, she said it’s too much.

Said Jan: “Anyone can petition for SSA for a specific section of a ward and it’s supposed to be to help with the development of the ward.” 

She said she does not think that those petitioning always have the best  interest of locals at heart.


The Beginning of Chicago’s Chinatown

According to Alex Bean on, the evolution of Chicago’s Chinatown began many decades ago. Chinatown’s original borders took shape sometime around 1890, placing most of the city’s Chinese immigrants between Clark and Van Buren streets and down to Harrison St. at the southern edge of the Loop.


It is thought to be the second oldest Chinese community in the country.

The California Gold Rush and the construction of the Transcontinental railway aided Chinese emigration from the west to the central states. Chicago was the central point of the American railway system, so it made sense for Chinese immigrants to make their way to Chicago while working on the new railways.


Chicago was a place of refuge for many of these Chinese immigrants because they faced racism in the West. While, Chicago does not have the best history regarding racism, it had more opportunities for immigrants.

It didn’t take long for racist views to marginalize the Chinese population in Chicago however, and with the American belief that Asians were, “an unclean and distasteful population who could never integrate into American society,” they were pushed out of the downtown area that had become known as Chinatown.


The World’s Fair in 1933 brought about even more housing cuts for the city’s Chinese population as the city extended Cermak Road for the event.

Timeline: Check out this timeline of Chicago’s Chinatown over the years. 

Present Day Chinatown

Today’s Chicago Chinatown stretches north and south from Cermak and 29th St. and from Wentworth on the east to Halsted at its western border.


For aging immigrant populations in the neighborhood change is difficult and the community services offered are imperative to their survival.


But for today’s Chinatown residents and business owners, the future is hopeful. They say they are pleased by the increased foot traffic that newly constructed hotels have brought to the area and optimistic that these changes will be good for businesses.

As with all businesses, sales cure all. Liang said, “People, if they have business, they don’t care about rent.” 



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This is the big Chinatown sign in the old Chinatown. Photo Via: Google Images

Top 10 Breakfast Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago is known for their famous deep dish pizza and hot dogs, but it also has delicious breakfast restaurants that you will want to check out. For every city you visit, you may want to know what good breakfast places to eat at. There are plenty of delicious breakfast restaurants to choose from, but there are specifically 10 places that every tourist should go to. These 10 places will introduce you to delicious flavors and will also make you feel at home. Places like Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits will bring you a variety of savory pies and biscuit sandwiches that are to die for.

Google Trends: Donald Trump Takes Over The Web Over Immigration and Impact of Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico Dominate Over Donald Trump

Donald Trump Takes Over The Web Over Immigration

Immigration and Donald Trump have been a trending topic in the recent few months due to the fact that Trump sent I.C.E to go on a hunt to catch illegal immigrants. According to an analysis to an analysis of Google Search on Google Trends, the ice raids that happened in August of this year started trending on social media. Because of social media, it helped bring awareness to illegal immigrants about their rights against I.C.E.

As you can see above, Ice raids was a trending topic in August because during that time, it was everywhere on social media. It was trending a lot on Twitter and there were videos on how as long as I.C.E. does not have a warrant from the judge, then illegal immigrants have the right to not speak to them. This information helped these people in fear know what to do in the situation.

As we all know, many Hispanic families live in the state of California and a lot of them illegally cross to California since it’s so close to Mexico. In the data above, the Southern region and Southwest region of California is shown to have been trending during that time. This shows that many people were in fear because they must have families who are illegal and want to know what to do in a worst case scenario.

Donald Trump has recently been searched by the whole country because of the immigration situations and him sending ICE to deport people. As you can see down below, Donald Trump was trending more than immigration because he is the one who has spoken poorly on this issue and caused fear upon these people.

Even though Donald Trump was trending more in that time period, immigration was still a trending topic in July-August because of the I.C.E raids Trump sent. These two trending topics are still continuing to be prominent in our country due to the fact that millions of immigrants are living here trying to live the American dream.

Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico Dominate Over Donald Trump

Hurricane Maria made landfall in September of 2017 becoming a Category 5. This hurricane destroyed a lot of land especially on the island of Puerto Rico. According to an analysis of Google Search on Google Trends, Hurricane Maria was more searched than Puerto Rico, which is where the hurricane caused the most damage. The data below is only based on the island of Puerto Rico to show what trended the most.

This hurricane brought a lot of grief and distress to the people of Puerto Rico because they lack resources in the medical field. As you can see below, the capitol of Puerto Rico searched up about the hurricane because they wanted to know when it would make landfall and what they should do to prepare for this storm. Nobody expected for around 3,000 lives to be lost from this disaster.

Donald Trump ended up trending worldwide because he went to visit Puerto Rico and did not do a good job of providing the island with the resources they needed. He went there and did not show an interest in trying to help the people and the island. This ended up upsetting many people worldwide and on the island that he became as a search of interest online.

However, Hurricane Maria was still being searched up a lot worldwide than Donald Trump because of the after affects it left on the island. Puerto Rico was searched up more than Donald Trump because everyone was more focused on what happened on the island than him.

Even though Hurricane Maria was the topic that trended the most in 2017, all of these trending topics were searched up a lot worldwide because everyone is curious about what is going on. As seen above on the map, it shows just how this hurricane created a frantic in people during this time that caused them to search these topics.

Pat Quinn photo

Practice Story

By Bob Smith Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required.