Chinatown, Greektown

Toronto, like many cities across North America, uses its street signs to identify neighbourhoods. Chinatown and Greektown are no exception. In Greektown, which extends along the Danforth for several blocks, Greek signs are posted above the standard English signs. It’s more a token recognition of the neighbourhood’s historical ethnic character than anything else. In the […]

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Chinatown by Night

In comparison to the increasingly polished neighbourhoods around it, Boston’s Chinatown is an oasis of grit, a place that actually feels comfortable and well-worn, like an old pair of jeans.

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Chinatown is Changing

In September, the owner of Swatow, an import/export business, announced he will replace his St. Laurent Blvd. store with a $20-million shopping centre – the first major real-estate investment in Chinatown since the 1980s – that will include a supermarket, office space, a rooftop banquet hall and small boutiques similar to those found in Toronto […]

Chinese Food Around Corner

Two generations of advertisements in downtown Boston

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Signs of the Far East

The topic of old commercial signs is esoteric enough, but I’ve managed to find an even more obscure type of commercial signage: 1960s-era Chinatown signs that use Rickshaw or some other kind of orientalist typeface. Most of them have disappeared, for obvious reasons, but it’s still possible to find traces of them in cities around […]

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Through the Door

Toy surname association, East Georgia St. Single room occupancy hotel, East Georgia St. Greeting card and lai see shop, Pender St.

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Signs of Chinatown

In a city whose urban landscape sometimes seems too neat, too standardized, too inorganic, Vancouver’s Chinatown is a refreshing enclave of clutter, unabashed commerce and grime: visible signs of human occupation. One of my favourite things about it is the multitude of signs, layers upon layers of them. Above are just a few examples found […]

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A Sunday in Chinatown

Fruit vendor on Clark Street Posters on Clark Street Chinese seniors’ home on de Bullion

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Clean Up Montreal’s Chinatown

This Saturday is the annual Chinatown Clean-Up festival, organized by the Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal, a non-profit community organization. It might sound kind of odd — a cleaning festival? — but it promises to be a lot of fun. Participants will spend a couple of hours sweeping up different sections of the neighbourhood […]

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Where Ulysses S. Grant Buys His Choi Sum

Among the dozens of groceries, butchers, bakeries and other businesses on Spadina Avenue in Toronto is Asian Farm, an oddly-named supermarket that stands out for two different reasons: the fact that it is open 24 hours a day and the fact that it features a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant on its sign. What exactly […]

A New “Chinatown” Grows in Montreal

On a cold January night, Fabian Jean and his mother, Lily, were enjoying a warming bowl of tong shui (sweet dessert soup) at the Chinese restaurant Prêt à Manger on Ste. Catherine St. West. “I find it’s actually a lot better than the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown,” Fabian said. “It’s so hard to park in […]

The Death of Chinatown?

Apparently, Toronto’s Chinatown is dying. “Most of the good restaurants have gone. Only a few fruit stands remain. Litter swirls around the cold and lonely sidewalks,” proclaimed the Toronto Star last March. As sensational as those claims may be, they merely echo the rumour that has been circulating for years: that the neighbourhood is in […]

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An Evening in Chinatown

Montreal’s Chinatown, more than a century old, is small but bustling — almost as if to spite the zoning restrictions and megaprojects that have hindered its growth over the years.

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