ETHNIC CENTER DEVELOPMENT
Chicago is proud of its rich and diverse ethnic makeup. The city is one of the great melting pots of the world. While we must ensure that all groups meld together in a common culture, we must also preserve the attractive diversity of our various cultures.
The following proposes some improvements to existing ethnic enclaves in the region. The development of some new ethnic centers is also advocated.
China Town in Chicago is an interesting ethnic community that is quite well known to diners in the region. There are a number of things that could and should be done to enhance the area and to substantially improve the surrounding neighborhood.
The area north of 22nd Street next to the elevated line is a
prime location for a gateway commercial center to China Town. A building could be constructed to provide access from the rapid transit line and provide ramp access from the station above 22nd Street into China Town itself. The building could be constructed over the parking lot and on air rights above 22nd Street.
This structure would provide safe and climate, sheltered access from downtown and all parts of the city into China Town. This structure would greatly improve the perception of access into the community and should substantially increase use of China Town.
The main street of China Town should receive a major influx of street trees. The area also needs decked parking and some kind of park amenity.
Improvements of a Marina on the Chicago River and expansion of China Town to the river are also much needed. Perhaps a China Town theme Marina could be successful, with Junk boats and an outdoor oriental market place.
A substantial infusion of people and capital can be expected as Hong Kong comes under the control of the Peoples Republic of China. The city could substantially benefit if these hard working entrepreneurs could be attracted to our city. An effort to attract these people to a revitalized China Town should be made.
Greek Town is a successful enclave of restaurants, but with the proper amenities it could be much more successful. It needs a major Greek oriented shopping center. Access could be provided to these restaurants from a mall type arrangement.
An enclosed mall could be constructed behind the existing
buildings, connecting the existing buildings to the mall. Greek
Town could thus become a safe and pleasant place to stroll and shop.
Connections to the loop must also be strengthened. A Greek Town special CTA bus would encourage loop workers to travel to Greek Town for lunch or after hours.
The street scape of Greek Town should also be improved. The area needs street trees and building facade improvement. In addition, the area needs a quality park.
Greek Town is a popular visitor center. It should be enhanced.
Despite the number of black residents of Chicago, no focused area of soul food restaurants exists. The rise in the number of affluent blacks should dictate an increasing number of quality soul food restaurants.
The physical location of Soul City could be almost anywhere
in the city, but preferably close to the loop so that loop
workers and shoppers could travel to Soul City for lunch or after hours.
Soul food should, of course, be the main food featured. However, additional African and Caribbean restaurants could add additional ambiance to the area. Retail malls with products from those countries should also be featured.
The development of a Soul City center of restaurants and
entertainment would be a welcome addition to the region. It could popularize soul food in much the same way that China Town and Greek Town promote their culture and cuisine.
The Hispanic population of the region has risen rapidly, and
several commercial areas could become "Hispanic Town". A group of aggressive merchants could promote their area into Hispanic Town, and aggressively market their area as the place for Mexican, South American, and Spanish cuisine.
Festivals and an open air market place could be a part of a
Hispanic Town. The Old Town development in San Diego is an obvious model for this type of development. Old Town was developed with significant government leadership and capital. The active Hispanic leadership in Chicago could provide the impetus for a Hispanic Town.
We do not have a Japanese enclave in the Chicago region. The Japanese are few in number in the region, and well integrated into the community. We should work to develop a Japan town, however. Japan has emerged as a dominant economic power, and it would be in the best efforts of the region to attract Japanese investment.
A Japan town could be developed almost anywhere in the region. The area that first develops a quality Japan town will be able to attract Japanese investment. The development of a quality Japan town, with Japanese style hotels and services, could be a major catalyst for growth.
A development of restaurants from a variety of different ethnic cuisines is also a possibility. These type of developments could work well in the suburbs or city neighborhoods. We have long learned that stores are more successful when clustered together, but we persist in our land use pattern of scattered restaurants.
A successful mall composed of restaurants, movies, and other type of entertainment could certainly be successful. The mall could become a suburban international center, focused around a convention center and hotels.
This type of center could help promote the restaurants of smaller ethnic groups in the city. Chicago has some immigrants from most of the nations of the world. An ethnic center could showcase these cultures and their cuisines. This development might be appropriate in the Southern Suburbs where cultures are more closely situated. Chicago Heights is an example of a relatively compact area that hosts many diverse cultures.
Tours that take visitors to the various ethnic centers should be developed. Many visitors to Chicago are too intimidated by the reputation of the city to travel around to the various
neighborhoods. Tours that provide a sense of security to
out-of-town visitors would expose these travellers to the ethnic diversity of the city.
Chicago is justly proud of its ethnic diversity. Efforts to
promote the preservation of those ethnic roots should be made.
The rich culture of these ethnic groups should be made readily available to all of Chicago--resident and visitor alike.