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Chicago’s Chinatown

Join us for a fabulous walking tour of Chinatown on Saturday, June 15 with lunch at the Michelin-awarded MingHin restaurant! Our very own Meredith Shi is organizing this tour and knows all the best places to visit and eat!!

Chicago’s Chinatown is considered one of the largest and most vibrant ethnic communities in the United States. Set against the backdrop of cultural landmarks and popular sights such as the Nine Dragon Wall, Chinatown Gate, and Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chinatown offers a glimpse into the architecture, traditions, and rich culture of one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

Present-day Chinatown formed in 1915 and is the second oldest settlement of Chinese in America. The densely populated 30-block commercial area of Chinatown, centering at Wentworth and Cermak is home to over 10,000 residents and approximately 400 businesses and community institutions. In the broader Chinatown community, an estimated 27,000 Chinese reside in the near-south neighborhoods.

See all the details below and RSVP by clicking here no later than Tuesday, June 11!

• Departure: Leave Church by carpool at 9:15 a.m. or meet at the boat dock at Ping Tom Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m., 1700 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago 60616.
Parking available at 1800 S Wentworth Ave. You can reserve parking in advance for $20 via SpotHero.
• 10:30 a.m.–noon: Walking Tour of Chinatown (1.3 miles) Organized walking tour of Chinatown starting at Ping Tom Memorial Park and ending at MingHin Cuisine for lunch.
• noon–1:30 p.m: Lunch at MingHin Cuisine, 2168 S Archer Ave, Chicago 60616. MingHin is the biggest and best Dim Sum restaurant in Chicago, specializing in traditional and contemporary Cantonese and dim sum. Reservations needed. It is a busy restaurant on weekends, so please RSVP as soon as possible so that we can secure our group reservation! MingHin was awarded the 2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand for the fourth consecutive year. Trip Advisor includes it among its top 20 most-visited restaurants in Chicago by locals and tourists.
• 1:30–2:30 p.m: Explore on your own, shopping, free time, or return home on your own schedule.
• 2:45–3:30 p.m: Return to Church

A thousand thanks to Meredith Shi for organizing this fascinating tour!!

Chinatown Tour Highlights (1.3 miles from Ping Tom Memorial Park to MingHin Cusine restaurant)

1. Chinatown Square

Shopping in 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. There is also a 320 sq. ft. mural constructed of 100,000 individually cut and hand-painted glass tiles that details the history of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. during the Gold Rush. The mural was constructed in China and disassembled, shipped, and reassembled onsite in Chinatown.

2. 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.

In addition to the number and color symbolism, this benevolent and mystical creature is greatly revered as it symbolizes protection, fortune, and a potent emblem for imperial power.

3. Chinatown Gate

As one of Chinatown’s most identifiable and memorable landmarks, the Chinatown Gate was built in 1975 and was considered as the original entryway into Chinatown. Reading from right to left, the characters on the gate read, Tian Xia, Wei Gong, which literally means, “Everything Under The Heaven, For The People,” which was the motto of a key figure in modern Chinese history, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

4. Pui Tak Center

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 1920’s, the architecture showcases traditional Chinese design. Imposing green and red pagoda towers topped with walls of terracotta 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.

5. 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.
During the summer months, a water taxi operates between downtown and in July, the park plays host to an annual Dragon Boat Race Festival where a fast-paced boat tournament, with authentic Chinese-style rowing boats, compete and celebrate this ancient Chinese tradition.

6. Chinese American Museum

Suggested Donation: $5, Senior: $3. This museum focuses on the immigrant experience in Chicago. The tour starts with a video explaining the Chinese-American experience. Plenty of artifacts add to the information, and docents are readily available to answer questions.