BOSTON BENEATH THE SURFACE



In almost every major American city, there is a Chinatown neighborhood full of rich history and culture brought to the city by immigrants. During these limited travel times, we cannot safely go abroad, but these neighborhoods serve as little pockets of authentic cuisine and culture that transport you out of normal life in Boston. Although I will admit that exploring Chinatown would be more enjoyable in warmer weather and a post-COVID-19 world, it's still a fun place to walk around, take pictures and get some good, cheap eats.

Boston’s Chinatown is located in the South End, and it was initially an area that immigrants of different descents historically settled in because of its lower cost of living and employment opportunities. Since the 1840s, Syrian, Jewish, Italian and Irish immigrants lived in the area until around 1880, when Chinese immigrants moved in after being brought to the United States as laborers. In typical American fashion, the treatment of immigrants—particularly those of Asian descent—was poor, and it included taking advantage of their low-income housing and businesses to make room for gentrification.

Now, Boston’s Chinatown is the third largest in the country, behind New York City and San Francisco. It is a cultural center for Asian-Americans, with a plethora of restaurants, markets and holiday celebrations.

The red and gold archway located off of Beach Street and the large white stone Fu Dogs are emblematic landmarks that frame Boston’s Chinatown and the hidden gems of the neighborhood. Some of the must-try restaurants of the area include: China Pearl Restaurant, Gourmet Dumpling House, and The Q if you’re looking for great hot pot. If you are looking for a place to grab dessert, Mei Sum Bakery is the place to go.

Ever since the start of COVID-19, cultural centers are perhaps more important than ever in preserving community and cultural immersion when socializing and travel is limited.

According to USA Today, hate crimes against Asian-Americans have risen dramatically over the past year, after the COVID-19 virus originated in Wuhan, China. The influx of hate crimes and negative associations with China and Asian-Americans are indicative of the need for better global education and appreciation for cultures outside one’s own realm of existence. Not only is Chinatown important in the historical value it has in Asian-American communities, but also for the preservation of America’s cultural melting pot. Bundle up, wear a mask and travel to a new part of the city!