Ethnic Renewal in Philadelphia's Chinatown

Space, Place, and Struggle

Kathryn E. Wilson
Book Cover

PB: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1215-7
Publication: May 15

HC: $85.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1214-0
Publication: May 15

Ebook: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1216-4
Publication: May 15

270 pages
6 x 9
2 tables 2 figures 15 halftones 3 maps

How Philadelphia’s Chinatown resisted and engaged with urban renewal processes in the late twentieth century


Philadelphia’s Chinatown, like many urban chinatowns, began in the late nineteenth century as a refuge for immigrant laborers and merchants in which to form a community to raise families and conduct business. But this enclave for expression, identity, and community is also the embodiment of historical legacies and personal and collective memories.

In Ethnic Renewal in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, Kathryn Wilson charts the unique history of this neighborhood. After 1945, a new generation of families began to shape Chinatown’s future. As plans for urban renewal—ranging from a cross-town expressway and commuter rail in the 1960s to a downtown baseball stadium in 2000—were proposed and developed, “Save Chinatown” activists rose up and fought for social justice.

Wilson chronicles the community’s efforts to save and renew itself through urban planning, territorial claims, and culturally specific rebuilding. She shows how these efforts led to Chinatown’s growth and its continued ability to serve as a living community for subsequent waves of new immigration.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Imagining Chinatown
1 Claiming Space, Creating Chinatown, 1870–1940
2 "Chinatown was the safe space”: Community, Memory, and Place, 1940–1980
3 “We want homes, not highways”: Urban Renewal and the “Save Chinatown” Movement
4 “Be part of progress, not its sacrificial lamb”: Community-Development Strategies, 1970–2000
5 “A legacy of resistance”: Chinatown North and Twenty-First-Century Challenges
6 “We are the ones who should be telling the story”: Representing Chinatown
Epilogue: “Is, was, and will be Chinatown”
Appendix: Chinatown Populations

About the Author(s)

Kathryn E. Wilson is Associate Professor of History at Georgia State University.


In the Series

  • Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin

    The Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy Series, edited by David Stradling, Larry Bennett, and Davarian Baldwin, was founded by the late Zane L. Miller to publish books that examine past and contemporary cities, focusing on cultural and social issues. The editors seek proposals that analyze processes of urban change relevant to the future of cities and their metropolitan regions, and that examine urban and regional planning, environmental issues, and urban policy studies, thus contributing to ongoing debates.