New Chinatown Homes and Condos for Sale July 23, 2024
37
Listed
39
Avg. DOM
$263.80
Avg. $ / Sq.Ft.
$399,900
Med. List Price
37 Properties
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The West Argyle Street Historic District, known by various names such as Little Saigon, New Chinatown, and Asia on Argyle, is a historic district situated in the northern part of Uptown, Chicago, Illinois. This district gained recognition by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 3, 2010, and it encompasses an area of approximately 41 acres (0.17 km2). Its approximate boundaries are N. Glenwood Ave to the west, Winona Street to the north, Sheridan Road to the east, and Ainslie Street to the south.

The area initially developed in the 1880s as a suburb called Argyle Park. This suburban enclave was named by James A. Campbell, a Chicago Alderman and developer, in honor of his Scottish ancestors, the Dukes of Argyll. The development of Argyle Park was centered around a station on the newly established Chicago & Evanston line of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, which commenced operations in May 1885. The village, along with the rest of Lake View Township, was incorporated into the city of Chicago in 1889. In 1908, the Northwestern Elevated Railroad extended its line northward from Wilson Avenue, connecting the suburb to Chicago's 'L' network. This expansion attracted residents of limited means who sought to live along the Lake Michigan shore. The railroad tracks were elevated onto an embankment between 1914 and 1922.

The transformation into New Chinatown began in the 1960s when Chicago restaurateur Jimmy Wong acquired property in the area with ambitious plans. Wong envisioned a vibrant mall adorned with pagodas, trees, and reflecting ponds, replacing the vacant storefronts. The Hip Sing Association, a Chinese cultural group, relocated its Chicago offices to Argyle Street in 1971. By 1974, Wong and the Hip Sing Association jointly owned 80% of the three-block stretch along Argyle. Unfortunately, Wong's plans were disrupted due to a hip injury that left him unable to continue with his vision. In 1979, Charlie Soo, the founder of the Asian American Small Business Association, took up the cause. Under Soo's leadership, the neighborhood evolved, encompassing not only a Chinese enclave but also featuring Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian, and Japanese businesses.

Soo actively campaigned for improvements in the area, securing a $250,000 facelift for the Argyle 'L' station from the Chicago Transit Authority. In 1981, he initiated the "Taste of Argyle," an annual food festival, and obtained funds from Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne to repair sidewalks and later, from Mayor Harold Washington, to renovate building facades. For his relentless efforts in promoting the neighborhood, Soo earned the unofficial title of the "Mayor of Argyle Street." By 1986, Uptown was estimated to be home to around 8,000 Chinese and Vietnamese residents.

The concentration of Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries, shops, and the presence of Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Thai businesses along Argyle Street, particularly around the Argyle 'L' station, earned the neighborhood nicknames such as New Chinatown, Little Saigon, or Little Vietnam. The historical significance of this area was formally recognized on June 3, 2010, when it was entered into the National Register of Historic Places, encompassing the region roughly bounded by Broadway to the west, Winona Street to the north, Sheridan Road to the east, and Ainslie Street to the south.