Chinatown Chicago Walking Tour

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Chinatown Chicago Walking Tour

  1. Leave the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (238 W. 23rd Street) and walk EAST towards Wentworth. Take a LEFT (NORTH) on to Wentworth. Welcome to the heart of Chicago's Chinatown!

  1. Walk NORTH on Wentworth for one block, and take in the sights and sounds of the busy neighborhood. Many of the shops in this area sell live or fresh fish and other seafood, and many people on the street might be speaking Cantonese (a dialect of the Chinese language). Be sure to look up at the buildings and at the signs on the shops and restaurants:

  • What do you see (colors, writing on signs, etc.)?

  • What do you hear?

  • What do you smell?

  1. Continue your walk NORTH. Stop at 2234 S. Wentworth at "Woks and Things." Look in the window display. During the Moon Festival, you ate moon cakes and looked at wooden moon cake molds used to make the moon cakes.

  • Find the wooden moon cake molds in the display window. How many do you see? What else do you recognize in the window?

  1. Continue to walk NORTH on Wentworth. Look UP at the buildings, and pause at the Pui Tak Building, 2214 South Wentworth. The building was constructed in 1928 and has towering pagodas and terra cotta walls. It features many ANIMALS that are important in Chinese culture on the outside of the building, around the main doors, and around the windows. Walk to the front and side of the building and don't forget to look UP!

  • What kinds of animals do you see on the building? Name as many animals as you can find on the building (hint: dragons, dogs, peacocks).

  1. Continue to walk NORTH on Wentworth. Stop at the corner of Wentworth and Cermak (22nd Street). Turn around and look up at the main gate at the entrance to Chinatown. This gate was modeled after a gate in Beijing, China. It marks the entrance what was originally the heart of Chinatown. Notice the four large characters at the top of the gate. They translate to "the world belongs to the commonwealth," which was a popular Chinese saying in the early 1900's.

  1. Carefully wait for the light and cross to the other side of Cermak (walking NORTH). Notice the Chinatown Fire Station. They helped our friends at the museum when they had their fire.

  1. Continue EAST across Wentworth to the NORTHEAST corner of Wentworth and Cermak. There is a large red pagoda on the corner. Pass the pagoda, and pause at the Nine Dragon Wall. This wall is modeled after a wall in Beihai Park in Beijing, China.

  • What animals do you see on the wall? (hint: this animal is considered sacred in Chinese culture)

  • How many animals can you count? (hint: look for nine large dragons and count as many other smaller dragons as possible- there are over 500!)

  1. Continue NORTH on Wentworth, one block, to Archer Avenue. On the NORTH side of Archer, just to your left, you will see Chinatown Square. It is a two-level structure with shops and restaurants, built around an open-air square. Use the crosswalks to cross over towards the Square. Continue southwest on Archer Avenue and enter the Square at the open-air space.

  1. Pause at the Chinatown Mural. It is made up of 100,000 individually cut and hand-painted pieces. It tells the story of Chinese immigrants in America.

  1. On each side of the mural are the Invention Monuments - two pieces of marble that describe four very important things that were invented in China.

  • What are the four important Chinese inventions that are described in the monuments? (hint: compass, gun powder, printing, and paper)

  1. On each end past the Invention Monuments, are large stone dogs (one on each end). One is a male dog and is standing on a ball. The other is a female dog, and has a baby dog under its front paw. Figure out which is the man and which is the woman.

  1. Walk around behind the Mural and into the open Square. Notice the statues that ring the Square. These are all the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

  • Do you remember what animal you were born under in the Chinese zodiac? Find your animal!

  1. Walk away from the mural further into Chinatown Square. If you have time left, go either way (north/south) within the Square and look in the windows of the shops and restaurants. Have fun exploring, and remember that lunch is at noon!

  1. Lunch is at Noon at Hing Kee restaurant at 2140 S. Archer Avenue in Chinatown Square. It is located on the southern side of the mall. You will enter the restaurant on the SECOND level of the Square.

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