Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pa is a predominantly Asian American neighborhood located with in the Center City district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
In the mid-19th century, Cantonese immigrants to Philadelphia opened laundries and restaurants in an area in close proximity to Philadelphia's commercial wharves. This led to the start of Philadelphia's Chinatown. The first business was a laundry owned by Lee Fong at 913 Race Street; it opened in 1871. In the following years, Chinatown consisted of ethnic Chinese businesses clustered around the 900 block of Race Street. Before the mid-1960s it consisted of several restaurants and one grocery store.
In the late 1990s the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team was hoping to build a new ball park in downtown Philadelphia to replace the aging Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia. Several locations were considered, including 12th and Vine Streets, just north of the Vine Street Expressway. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation mounted an intense opposition to the ballpark plans. Residents were concerned that the ballpark would destroy Chinatown. The PCDC staged protests and rallies that united neighborhood groups, religious, labor, ethnic, and political groups. Eventually the Phillies built Citizens Bank Park at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which opened in 2004.
The Chinatown Friendship Gate, located at 10th and Arch Street, is an internationally known landmark and a symbol of cultural exchange and friendship between Philadelphia and its Sister City, Tianjin, China. The Gate is part of the Port Agreement signed in Tianjin, China on November 11, 1982. It was commissioned by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Public Property and completed in winter of 1983-84. The Gate was dedicated on January 31, 1984.
The Gate is the first authentic Chinese Gate built in America by artisans from China. Weighing in at approximately 88 tons and standing 40-feet high, the Gate's bright colors and elaborate design reflect traditional ancient color combinations used in early Chinese imperial construction. Themes of mythical creatures and graphic patterns typical to Ming and Qing Dynasties were used. A procession of mythical animals is featured on tiles, each with its own significance: the phoenix ensures good luck, and the dragon, with the magical power retaining water in its mouth, protects the structure of the Gate and the community from Fire. The four traditional Chinese characters on both sides of the Gate are, "費城華埠" (Fèichéng huá bù), which means Philadelphia Chinatown.
As of 1998 the wider Chinatown area had about 4,000 residents. Many of them worked in clothing assembly companies, restaurants, and related suppliers located in the area. As of that year, most residents were Chinese American.