America’s Lost Chinatowns by Insider

Beyond the most popular Chinatowns of major cities, including those of Manhattan, New York and San Francisco, California, the United States once contained over fifty self-described Chinatowns in the 1880s, during the first peaks of Chinese immigration to the US.

Insider’s Associate Data Graphics Developer, Annie Fu, examined three lesser-known historical Chinatowns in Butte, Montana, Detroit, Michigan, and Atlanta, Georgia, to show how racism, gentrification, and economics impacted these once thriving cultural hubs. Each of these Chinatowns highlights the unique challenges and triumphs of being Asian in this country.

In Butte, Montana, Jerry Tam fights to keep a multi-generational family restaurant alive; in Detroit, Michigan, community leaders search for common ground on how to revitalize an abandoned Chinatown; and in Atlanta, Georgia, Yaqin Cao takes a biannual trip across state borders in order to buy authentic Chinese goods and food.

Historical and modern maps and charts are weaved throughout this story to show the stark decline in space occupied and population size. Through these data visualizations, interactive maps, and photography, Fu spotlights the individuals fighting to keep these Chinatowns alive and tells an often forgotten story of Asian American history.