Houston’s New Chinatown: A Home Away from Home (China Eye, Issue 40, Winter 2013)

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Houston’s New Chinatown: A Home Away from Home By Tamara Treichel

“Go West, young man” is an old American saying, and many of America’s Chinese today appear to still be heeding that call: They are moving to Houston, Texas, attracted by the comparatively cheap real estate prices and lower cost of living.

Here is a brief historical flashback: Houston’s 1880 census reported seven Chinese residents, almost all male, all of them in the laundry industry, over which the Chinese held a monopoly in the late nineteenth century (many Chinese were also involved in building the Transcontinental Railroad). While Houston’s Chinese community grew only slowly up to World War II, the number of Chinese rose significantly during and after that period.

During the past quarter of a century Houston’s Chinese population exploded, and the makeup of the Chinese in Houston reflected that in other parts of the United States: While many immigrants originally came from southern China, more and more are coming from mainland China and Southeast Asia. Continue reading