Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DIY Asian Urbanism in Seattle

By Amy (Ming-Ya) Chung, Eunice Lo, Janice Chen

Chinatown (also called a
s International District), is the center of Seattle's Asian American community. Compare to other places in Seattle, Chinatown has embraced Asian cultures in every aspect in the neighborhood. The Asian communities created this space that reflects the life style of their home in Asia.

Our group visited Chinatown in the morning of January 12th, 2012, on a dry and sunny day. There were not many people during the morning; the S. King Street was quiet and most of the shops were either still preparing to open, or still closed.

As we walked down the street, we saw signs in Chinese/Japanese hanging in front of every stores and merchandise displayed outside of the shop, which is very similar to the signs in the tradition Asian market. Cardboard made by cafe owners placed on the sidewalk against a parking sign pole to attract customers, or a blackboard from the Café stood by itself on the sidewalk, are all the practice that Asian people do in the Asian market. Also, the use of boxes to expand storage space and to display merchandise is functioned to attract the passerby when they see some of the products.

Hing Hay Park, located at the corner of S. King Street and Maynard Avenue S., is a popular gathering place for the community. It also embraced the Asian culture with a beautiful authentic pagoda in the center, and people use this space to held traditional Asian events to celebrate their cultural origins. It is mostly used by old people to gather and chat, exercise, play chess, and etc, with a board in the corner of the park for community communication. Decorations for the season on the leafless trees in the winter make the park a more welcoming place, and catch passerby's attention to this small pocket park.

China town has been DIY-urbanized by the Asian communities with a very distinct character that is hard to see anywhere in Seattle. It is a place where Asian communities adapting American urban spaces and transformed into place embracing all kinds of cultural essences.

View DIY Asian Urbanism in Seattle in a larger map

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