It’s been little more than two weeks since I moved to the Windy City, and already I’ve noticed significant cultural differences between here and back home in Seattle. Prior to my move, I was keenly interested in Chicago’s Asian populace– the geography, demographics, socio-economic patterns, etc, etc. As a big Midwest town, the city doesn’t have the same pan-Asian history that most West Coast metropolises do. Ethnic migration and settlement patterns are thus different from the ones I commonly talk about on this blog.
There is much much more to come on my qualitative musings about ethnic geography in Chicago. For now, I want to present my map of the distribution of Asian ethnicities across Chicagoland. This is a replica of my King County map (sans the data-consuming water geography) so I’ve carried over all the methodology. Again, credit must be given to Eric Fischer for the inspiration.
Being a rather expansive metropolitan area, it was difficult to decide what the geographic extent of my analysis should be. I ultimately settled on a four-county area: Will, Cook, DuPage, and Lake. The colors are as follows: red = Indian, light blue = Chinese, magenta = Filipino, orange = Korean, gold = Japanese, light green = Vietnamese, grey = other. One dot represents ten persons.
I have some off-the-cuff observations, but being that I’m unfamiliar with the area, I could be totally wrong. Nonetheless, I do consider myself somewhat of an ethnic geographer so hopefully my remarks aren’t totally off base:
- The vast majority of Asians living in the north and northwest suburbs are of Indian descent, with one large concentration in Des Plaines and a more dispersed cluster out in Schaumburg. Indians also live at even lower densities out in west Naperville, close to Aurora.
- There’s no mistaking the very dense concentration of Chinese emanating out from Chinatown as the Stevenson and Dan Ryan expressways diverge.
- Filipinos are much more prevalent on the city’s North Side, particularly the Foster corridor near Northeastern Illinois University.
- Chicago’s “new” Chinatown, is actually an enclave compromised more of Vietnamese and is centered around Argyle in Uptown. Having been to this district a few times already, I’ll have more to say in the future.
- Koreans and Japanese are fewer in number and mostly live sparsely to the north and northwest. There is a notable cluster of Koreans in Niles, where there is ‘coincidentally,’ an H-Mart.
- There’s a significant dense and diverse concentration of mostly South and Southeast Asians around the West Ridge area, to the west of Edgewater. I have no clue what’s going on there, but I can certainly promise further investigation in the future.
- Among the few Midwestern Chinese-Americans I’ve spoken to, Naperville is known as Chicago’s Chinese suburb. An analysis of the map proves this to be true, though Naperville’s Chinese populace is somewhat dispersed– and more or less reminiscent to an early 2000s Bellevue.
- Downtown appears to boast the most diverse cluster of Asians, most likely younger ethnic professionals.
- There are clearly fewer Asians out in the West, Southwest, and South sides (with Chinatown being the exception), areas which all have historically larger African American populations.