Welcome to Koreatown

2016-04-13 N&W Pic 1
Image used under Creative Commons license; click image to go to original URL. Retrieved 04/13/2016.

Holy cow.  I could not find any pictures of Koreatown through Creative Commons today.  I even had trouble finding general “Albany Park” pictures, so you’ll to content yourself with the, admittedly lovely, picture above.

I have lived in this town for almost twenty years and in all that time, I am a regular commuter on the Brown Line from Kimball, its terminus.  The Kimball Brown Line is on Lawrence Avenue between Kedzie and Pulaski.  What I didn’t know until fairly recently is that this is smack in the middle of Koreatown.

I’m from the west coast and for whatever reason, the ethnic villages, also known as “ethnic enclaves,” are very visible.  San Francisco Chinatown is world famous, and Japantown is a peaceful haven in a bustling city.  There are more people of Vietnamese descent in Santa Clara County than anywhere in the States, (when I lived there, over 80,000 people).

Koreatown, however, is much more subtle.  According to what I’ve read from articles via Arcadia Publishing, (and I recommend their books highly, including Korean Americans in Chicago), the stretch on Lawrence Avenue between Kedzie and Pulaski has historically been the epicenter of Koreatown here.

In recent years, many people have moved to the northern suburbs, but once I started looking I began to see a lot of the Korean presence here.  There’s a Korean American Cultural Center not far from the Brown Line, and I’ve seen people on my morning commute on their way there for English language lessons.  There are Korean Barbecue restaurants and many, many Korean-owned businesses in the neighborhood.


I know Wikipedia isn’t scholarly, but I found the following article helpful when I was trying to look up images of the area because it gives the geographic boundaries – plus, I learned the term “ethnic enclave.”  “Koreatown,” Wikipedia, retrieved from the following link 04/13/2016.

There is an app I used to have on my last phone, but haven’t downloaded to my current one.  If someone recognizes it from my description, please tell me in comments because I’d love to get it again.  It’s an app that determines what’s around you by your location, and gives you tips that an insider might know – which is how I found out I was in Koreatown to begin with.  I’m mentioning it here in references not because I can remember the attribution, but precisely because I can’t, and it is the reason for today’s article.  (My apologies to the app developers for my poor memory.)

A note on attributions:  I know I’m not writing for school here, even though I’m giving myself flashbacks to when I got my MBA.  But I think it’s important to credit others for things they do, and I’d be very disappointed if someone took from my work without crediting me.  Also, there’s been a lot in social media off and on over the last several years about authors getting in hot water with photographers for posting things without permission and out of license.  Since my husband is a professional photographer, that’s a hot topic in our house.  It’s for that reason, Dear Reader, that I am using footnotes and attributions.  I hope it doesn’t bring up too many bad memories of “get at least three sources for every assignment you turn in and use APA rules for all citations.”  ~shudder~  (No offense meant to the APA, of course – grin.)


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4 Replies to “Welcome to Koreatown”

    1. Hi, Natalie! I have not yet gotten to travel out of the States, but I want to travel the world. I have traveled all over the States, though, and this is an amazing country. There are so many different kinds of people here, it makes me want to see where they’re all from. 🙂

  1. I know what you mean about the west coast ethnic enclaves being extremely visible. Heck, even in Montreal you definitely knew you were in Chinatown, because of the enormous lions and paifang (arch). I think that kind of architectural signal that you’re entering a certain space is really cool, and suspect that’s why San Diego designates its neighborhoods with retro-styled signs.

    I guess it depends on the city, though, since some are much more given to cultural shifting, where others are more entrenched. Chinatown in San Francisco isn’t going anywhere because the Chinese-Americans who own it have really claimed it, set up strong businesses and identities and their own Chamber of Commerce, and refuse to be pushed elsewhere.

    Now I’m definitely interested in reading that Arcadia book! I wonder if my library has a copy?

    1. I would imagine if they don’t, you can get it through intralibrary loan. I once got a book that way in college in Irvine, California, that came from a local municipal library in a small city in Arizona. O.o… 🙂

      Thank you for coming by for a visit! I appreciate it!

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