Philadelphia’s Chinatown is one of the largest in the United States and a must see for visitors to Philadelphia, residents of the city and suburbanites alike. For that matter, anyone who loves Asian cuisine and culture should explore Philadelphia’s Chinatown.
In recent years Chinatown was threatened and some area was lost due to the construction of the Vine Street Expressway, the Gallery mall, Market Street East train station and the Convention Center. It was also the proposed location for a prison and a new ball park for the Phillies. 45 years ago, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation was formed to keep Chinatown alive and well in Philadelphia.
Chinatown’s borders are Arch Street on the south, Vine Street on the north, 11th Street on the west and 8th Street on the east. Recently Chinatown has expanded across Vine Street into what has become known as Chinatown North.
The area where 10th Street crosses the Vine Street Expressway had become a garbage dump and a sleeping area for the homeless. 10th Street is a vital link from Chinatown to Chinatown North. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Hahnemann University Hospital cosponsored a new gateway area for Chinatown. The $300,000 project was recently completed and has transformed an undesirable area into a beautiful public space called 10th Street Plaza.
A seven ton foo dog, hand carved from granite in the Fujian Province, stands guard at each end of the newly formed plaza. One is male, the other female. An Asian-style pergola was constructed, which during the warmer months will provide shade from climbing vines. Tables, benches and lighting were also added transforming the area into an outdoor gathering place. An eight-foot-tall statue of Lin Zexu will also join the foo dogs in the plaza.
The area north of Vine Street was formerly a warehouse/industrial district but has now become a haven for businesses who want to be near Chinatown. Restaurant suppliers, travel agencies and construction firms for starters. This northerly migration has created much needed room for Chinatown to expand, thus making the 10th Street crossing a pivotal component for neighborhood revitalization and stabilization. Many people who live and work in Chinatown must use the 10th Street overpass every day.
A formal dedication of 10th Street Plaza is scheduled for spring.