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Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the image of Chinatown was one of a neighborhood defined by corruption, decadence, and excess. This ill-deserved reputation was, above all else, the result of a city searching for a target for their fears and prejudices. That Chinatown, the corrupt Chinatown, was not the Chinatown that hundreds of immigrants -- the sojourners -- called home.

These myths of hatred are often grounded in false beliefs; they are the imaginary anchors to our collective fears. And Chinatown is most certainly one of them.

In the next issue of Departures, we will begin to dig through the immigrant geology of Chinatown and explore its diverse waves of migration. It is a rich cultural history that has created a parallel - and contrary - narrative to the myth that is Chinatown.

As a non-Chinese Latino, I will be the first to admit that dissecting this storied history will prove to be a daunting task. But with your help, as well as the help of the people and places of Chinatown (old and new), we hope to create the building blocks of a more collective narrative.

The map below provides a rough guide to the many layers and voices that we've encountered in our initial research. Take a look and tell us what you think should be there, what shouldn't, and where we should go next.

Myths like those associated with Chinatown are often a product of our own fears, fears about who we are, and who we aren't. That doesn't mean, however, that we have to remain controlled by them.

Help us tell a better story.

 

 

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