Cleveland's AsiaTown

Home to Generations of History

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Cleveland Asian Festival

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Asia Plaza Shops

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Community Gatherings

AsiaTown is located just east of Downtown Cleveland, roughly between I-90 and E. 55th, Perkins to St. Clair, as well as Old Chinatown on Rockwell Avenue.

The first Chinatown in Cleveland was located on West Third Street but moved to its Rockwell and current AsiaTown locations due to urban renewal. Clevelandโ€™s Chinese population began to grow after 1860 (learn more about this below), first settling just west of Ontario Street on todayโ€™s West Third Street. From the start, two merchant associations, On Leong Tong and Hip Sing supported the community and maintained their own cultural values and traditions. Today, AsiaTown is home to a diverse population of over 2,000 residents and dozens of dining options, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese eats, five grocery stores, various gift shops, boutiques, and salons.

Currents Leading to Cleveland

The progression of the city's Asian population

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"The early Chinese [in Cleveland] settled in an area along Lakeside and St. Clair Avenues on Ontario Street . . . [and] they typically opened small service businesses when they arrived, such as laundries, restaurants, groceries and clothing stores."

Cleveland state heritage study, 1977

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AsiaTown began as a home for Chinese Americans who settled in Cleveland as early as 1860. Those early families mainly came from the West Coast, looking to escape anti-immigrant hostility and seek economic opportunities.

By the 1920s, the Chinese population was concentrated at Rockwell Ave. and East 22th St., near the outer western edge of what is now considered AsiaTown. As numbers swelled during the twentieth century (especially after the communist takeover in 1949), the area became known as Chinatown.

Throughout the 20th century, instability abroad and economic opportunities sparked an influx of new immigrant populations to the near east side, including large Korean and Vietnamese groups. Today, the Korean population and businesses of the AsiaTown region are numerous, and have a strong community presence through the Korean American Association of Greater Cleveland (KAAGC). The Vietnamese community, which numbered hundreds of families by the 1980s, began to relocate from the west side to the AsiaTown area, and by 2000, has numerous businesses and restaurants in the neighborhood.

By then, the population east of Old Chinatown had become significantly diverse that local businesses decided to re-christen the area AsiaTown, with a boundary now expanding out to East 40th Street.

TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY SOURCED FROM THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CLEVELAND HISTORY AND THE "FACES OF CHINATOWN" PROJECT

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Additional historic images from Faces of chinatown

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