National Historic District

The first Chinese in Boston came from California’s gold rush. By 1875 some worked briefly in North Adams factories during a strike. When they lost their jobs at the end of the strike, they took the train into Boston and settled in this area near South Station. Ping On Street was the site of the city’s first Chinese settlement.

A large Chinese gate is the formal entrance to Chinatown on Beach Street. Other signs of Asian culture can be found in the district’s architectural motifs: Look for fu dogs, bronze Tao bas-reliefs, feng shui mirrors, decorative posts on upper floors, Wen-ti Tsen’s mural, and a pagoda roof terrace on the top of the Chinese Merchants Association Building at the corner of Hudson and Stuart Streets. The Chinese restaurants on Tyler Street have flamboyant façades, and on the other streets many shops display Chinese groceries, fresh fish, spices, produce, pots and pans, and colorful clothing.

Chinatown has grown geographically and culturally and is now a focus for a variety of Asian cultures. Vietnamese grocery stores and the China Trade Center have changed the atmosphere of Washington Street in the former “combat zone,” and Asian decorative arts shops have spread into the leather district.

Image: Greenway Chinatown Park, CRJA