Friday, 10 December 2010

Rough Guide- Chinatown: Past and Present

China Town

You can find a Chinatown in almost every major city in the world. Some are very small and consist of only a few streets, whilst others are huge and have been described as ‘a city within a city’. The Chinatown in London is a hugely popular area which holds many celebrations and festivals. For example, the Mid-Autumn festival takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This usually occurs around late September or early October when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. People come to take part in food tasting, candy and noodle-making classes and even a Chopsticks Challenge.

Chinatown in London has not always been in the West End. In fact, when it first began to develop, in the 18th Century, it was in the East End of London in the Limehouse area. The East India Company started employing Chinese sailors and gradually more and more Chinese people began to arrive in London. In the 1880’s Chinese sailors and traders started to open shops and cafes. This meant China Town was becoming more established and by 1914 there were at least 30 Chinese businesses in Limehouse. .
In 1939-45 the London bombings were destroying the Chinese community in Limehouse and so started to push the community into its current location in Soho, the West End of London.
Restaurants started to open in China Town when British soldiers came back from the Far East, wanting the Chinese food they had tasted on their travels.  Eventually in the 1960s, the families of Chinese sailors moved to London, to be with the sailors meaning the community expanded further.
There are now 78 restaurants in Chinatown, London, along with another 53 shops including herbal remedy treatments, hairdressers, pharmacists, reflexology specialists and travel agencies, and 12 bars and pubs.

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