August 25, 2010

The Vietnamese in Uptown

By the mid-1980s, Uptown had become home to 10,000 Indochinese immigrants. Author Nghia M. Vo covers some of that history in Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975-1992. Here is a brief excerpt:

Uptown Chicago was a fashionable area between 1900 and 1920. Germans, Swedes, and Irish moved in succession into the area, but in the '50s, Uptown gradually declined because its population slowly moved away. Multiple attempts to improve the area structurally and financially failed. Many organizations, including Chinese who wanted to build a second Chinatown, pushed developers to restore the buildings. Despite these restorations, there were no takers. The area remained "a ghost town after dark...dominated by pimps, prostitutes, and drug pushers who assembled on unlit, crumbling sidewalks." By 1980, 48 percent of the residents lived below the poverty line, compared to 37 percent for the city as a whole. What Uptown needed was an infusion of a large population willing to live and work in a district with a bad reputation and visible signs of decay. The local government solved the problem by inserting the newly arrived refugees in the low rent Uptown area. Having no preconceived ideas and nowhere else to go, the newcomers settled in and renovated it. In the beginning, no one dared to venture in the streets after dark, as the area was not deemed safe. Muggings and break-ins occurred frequently. Broken windows, vacant buildings, and unintelligible graffiti were frequently seen. Dirty sidewalks co-existed with potholed streets. The area exhibited an air of sadness, despair, and resentment...

Read about how the Vietnamese popular transformed Uptown for the better in Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975-1992

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin