Several months ago I spent time exploring Grant Street in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, an attraction that every guidebook showcases alongside the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Alcatraz. As a tourist, the unusual sights, sounds, and smells made the visit an unforgettable experience. As a geographer, the walk down the crowded streets of Chinatown raised a long list of questions about the neighborhood’s role in the everyday lives of the city’s ethnic Chinese.
In her book American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods writer Bonnie Tsui examines the changing geography of American Chinatowns, from the outward migration that has created new “satellite Chinatowns” in San Francisco and New York to the arrival of immigrants from Southeast Asia in the Los Angeles Chinatown. National Public Radio’s All Things Considered toured New York’s Chinatown with Tsui as she discussed the past, present, and future of these ethnic enclaves. Listen to “The Changing Face of America’s Chinatowns” (6 minutes, 37 seconds).
More on this topic: Finding Chinatown Through Oral Histories
More on this topic: Museum of Chinese in America