Arthur Acoca at ACSP
Who Owns Boston’s and Philadelphia’s Chinatowns: Neighborhood Preservation and Changes in Two Ethnic Enclaves
Abstract: This article describes changes in the patterns of property ownership in Philadelphia’s and Boston’s historic downtown Chinatowns over the last decade (2003-2013) and compares them to changes in the residents of these ethnic enclaves during a period of rapid changes for both neighborhoods. The number of individual properties has increased rapidly in both Chinatowns as a result of the development of new residential condominiums. The share of owners with an Asian-sounding name has slightly increased in both Chinatowns, while the share of properties owned by individuals has declined in Boston but increased in Philadelphia. The number of owners identified as off-site has declined in both Boston and Philadelphia but remains high. Off-site owners are increasingly living farther away – in the suburbs, outside of the region or even internationally – rather than in other Boston or Philadelphia neighborhoods. At the same time, the share of Asian residents has declined in both neighborhoods and they continue to have low levels of income and high levels of poverty. These trends simultaneously reinforce and complicate longstanding efforts to preserve these Chinatowns as ethnic Chinese residential, commercial, and cultural centers as they experience rapid urban revitalization.