Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Expat hubs: Chinatown

With the rise of the global economy, convenience of air travel and a growing lust for new experiences, expatriation is an appealing prospect for many individuals. While expats, by definition, will have moved to a foreign country and as such, are not considered to be local, the rate and volume of expatriation means that there are certain areas in which these groups have made the new country their own.

Today, we are taking a look at those places where expats have settled and really made an impact.

Image via Wikimedia

New York is a metropolis characterised by its foreign population. With over 800 languages spoken and endless nationalities to meet, the city continues to draw in expats looking to take advantage of what it has to offer.

While there is a clear multiculturalism existing in New York, there is one area that is notable for being created by an expat community, for an expat community – and that is Chinatown.

Image via Flickr

While Chinatown's and other cultural hubs (little Italys etc.) can be found all around the globe, Chinatown in Manhattan claims to have the highest concentration of Chinese people in the western hemisphere, and so it is a great case study of expats making their mark on a city.

Chinatown started from humble beginnings, with the first recorded Chinese immigrant- a man named Ah Ken – moving there in the 1840s to set up his own cigar shop. His success encouraged other Chinese businessmen to sell their tobacco wares in Chinatown and drew in a large Chinese population to relocate there.

Nowadays, Chinatown has become world-renowned as a popular destination to visit, with swarms of New Yorkers and tourists alike flooding in to take in the colourful bright lights, well-stocked Asian supermarkets, street fairs and the endless restaurants. What is so inspiring about this historic community is that they have really created an expat identity to be proud of, keeping hold of their home-country traditions and making it something beautiful to be admired in their new country.

If you want to learn more about the history of this place, and happen to be in the Lower East Side district, take a tour of the Museum of Chinese in America where you can wander through exhibitions that provide the back-story to the history of Chinese people in the USA.  

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