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Chinatown is an ethnic enclave outside Chinese homelands where the Chinese and their businesses are concentrated. Chinatowns are part of the history and culture of the world. Focusing on the United States, this essay examines the formation, demise and growth, and present status of Chinatowns in America. In addition, it briefly depicts Chinatowns around the world.

The Formation of Chinatowns

San Francisco’s Chinatown was the first in the United States. It began to take shape in the late 1840s as large numbers of Chinese immigrants were lured there by the gold rush. Initially called “Little Canton” and “China Quarter,” it was christened “Chinatown” by the press in 1853. In the following several decades, more than two dozen Chinatowns were established in the mining areas, railroad towns, ...

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