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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Immigration
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Immigration Chinese
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Building Communities

In the face of a hostile public, and in response to hard times and legal exclusion, Chinese immigrants began to build communities unlike any others in North America: Chinatowns. With the completion of the railroads and the end of the gold rush, Chinese immigrants moved in increasing numbers to urban areas. There, they began to congregate in Chinese-only neighborhoods that soon became known, to Chinese and non-Chinese residents alike, as separate, nearly independent, cities within the city.

A Chinatown served as a safe haven and second home for Chinese immigrants, a place to shop for familiar food, to worship in a traditional temple, or to catch up on the news from the old country. It also was a good place to do business: The shops and factories in a Chinatown were almost exclusively Chinese-owned, and would hire Chinese workers when many non-Chinese businesses would not. By the turn of the century, Chinatowns had sprung up in cities, from San Diego to El Paso to Connecticut, and formed a network that crossed the continent.



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