sights / Other

Chinatown information

Chicago , USA
Extras intersection of Cermak Rd & Wentworth Ave
Getting there
metro Red Line to Cermak-Chinatown
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Lonely Planet review

Chinatown's charm is best enjoyed by going from bakery to bakery, nibbling chestnut cakes and almond cookies, then shopping for Hello Kitty trinkets and tea in the small shops. Old Chinatown stretches along Wentworth Ave south of Cermak, and is the neighborhood's traditional retail heart (and a good place to purchase a turtle). Chinatown Square , along Archer Ave north of Cermak, is the newer commerce district; it's filled with restaurants and is at its wonderful noisiest on weekends.

When you're not stuffing your face, you can check out a couple of sights. Ping Tom Memorial Park , behind the square, offers dramatic city-railroad-bridge views. The On Leong Building stands out in old Chinatown. It once housed neighborhood service organizations and some illegal gambling operations that led to spectacular police raids. It now houses the Chinese Merchants Association. Built in 1928, the grand structure is a fantasy of Chinese architecture that makes good use of glazed terra-cotta details. Note how the lions guarding the door have twisted their heads so they don't have to risk bad luck by turning their backs to each other.

On Saturdays and Sundays in summer, Chicago Water Taxi runs a groovy boat down the Chicago River from Michigan Ave (the dock is on the bridge's northwest side, by the Wrigley Building) to Ping Tom park. It costs $4 one way, and takes 25 minutes.