Yes, St. Louis, Missouri has a Chinatown. It is located in the downtown area of the city and covers several blocks. The area has a number of Chinese-owned businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, and gift shops.
The History of Chinatown in St. Louis
Chinatown in St. Louis has a rich and storied history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The first Chinese immigrant to St. Louis was Alla Lee, who arrived in the city in 1857. Lee was the only Chinese immigrant in St. Louis until 1869, when a group of about 250 immigrants arrived seeking factory work. In January 1870, another group of Chinese immigrants arrived, including some women. By 1900, the immigrant population of St. Louis Chinatown had settled at between 300 and 400.
Chinatown established itself as the home to Chinese hand laundries, which in turn represented more than half of the city’s laundry facilities. Other businesses included groceries, restaurants, tea shops, barber shops, and opium dens. Despite facing discrimination and racial prejudice, the Chinese community in St. Louis thrived and grew, building a vibrant community in the heart of the city.
However, the 1960s brought about significant changes to the city, as urban renewal projects were implemented in order to modernize the downtown area. As a result, Chinatown was condemned and demolished to make space for Busch Memorial Stadium, which was later replaced by Busch Stadium, the current home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. This effectively wiped out Chinatown, and the surrounding area, which had once been a bustling commercial and residential district, fell into decline.
The area where Chinatown once stood is now the site of Busch Stadium and its surrounding parking lots and garages. The loss of Chinatown has had a significant impact on the city, not only in terms of cultural heritage and history, but also in terms of the economic and social vitality of the area.
However, the Chinese community in St. Louis persisted, and today, a new Chinatown has emerged in the suburbs, along a strip of Olive Boulevard in University City. While this new location may lack the historic charm and character of the old Chinatown, it continues to be a hub of Chinese culture and commerce in the St. Louis area.