Baltimore’s Chinatown: From Forgotten To Revitalization

The city of Baltimore is home to small, old, but very progressive Chinatowns. Over the years, these Chinatowns had a significant impact on what Baltimore is now, primarily in trades and commerce. However, once a center of trades and festivities in Baltimore had long been forgotten.

There are some conscious efforts to review Baltimore’s Chinatown, such as in this article written by Ethan McLeod in Baltimore Fishbowl about an Asian Night Market setting up a shop in Chinatown for one night. Read the article below to learn more.

For One Night in September, an Asian Night Market Will Set Up Shop in Baltimore’s Old Chinatown

Image Courtesy of Baltimore Fishbowl

Baltimore’s historic Chinatown that you’ve probably never noticed sits in the 300 block of Park Avenue. But if you head there you’ll find the lone family-style Cantonese restaurant ZongShan and the neighboring Po Tung grocery, surrounded by a dotting of Ethiopian spots that have moved into the area.

This wasn’t always the case. The 200 block of Marion Street on the Westside once housed a small, but tight Chinese immigrant community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with laundries, restaurants, a school and more. After World War II, the city pushed the community several blocks northward to the 300 and 400 blocks of Park Avenue. While Chinatown persisted there for several more decades, it ultimately faded away over time as its families joined the masses flocking to the suburbs.

Now a group of local merchants of Asian heritage hopes to reignite the quiet blocks there. The effort begins next month with Baltimore’s first-ever Charm City Night Market, in the vein of other the vibrant, open-air night markets found in China, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and other countries.

Baltimore’s pop-up night market on Sept. 22—timed two days before Southeast Asia’s widely celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival—will be what a release describes as “an epic outdoor block party that connects Lexington Market to Park Avenue, spanning the city’s intertwined communities of color.”

The evening will feature musical performers—the Baltimore Dance Crews Project and traditional Korean drummers Washington Samulnori among them—along with a host of hometown Asian food purveyors, storytellers, an artist and craft market, a sake, soju and beer garden manned by Phil Han of Dooby’s, and more.

The fenced-off, open green space in the 200 block of Park Avenue will serve as the epicenter for the market. The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is serving as the event’s chief sponsor. Click here to read the rest of this post…

It’s true that this Chinatown in Baltimore was already forgotten for many years, with few and few people going to the place on a daily basis. Now there is conscious effort to revive the town by setting up a pop-up night market that features musical performers, drummers among others. This is an effort to bring back people to the once lively place.

To further promote this awesome event, Wesley Case wrote an article about the Chinatown event in The Baltimore Sun. The festival celebrating Asian-American culture and history.

In Baltimore’s Forgotten Chinatown, A New Festival Will Celebrate Asian-American History and Culture

Image Courtesy of Courtesy of Downtown Partnership

A once-bustling section of downtown will come alive again Saturday with the Charm City Night Market, a block party celebrating Asian-American and Pacific Islander culture in Baltimore.

That’s the hope, at least, of the Chinatown Collective, a volunteer-run organization of young Baltimoreans that created the first-ever event. Located in the city’s historic Chinatown along Park Avenue downtown, the festival aims to remind attendees of Baltimore’s Asian history and culture while showcasing the work of restaurateurs, artists and vendors, said organizer Marisa Dobson.

“The goal is to bring people around a space and a neighborhood that I feel has been somewhat neglected and forgotten,” Dobson said, “and make it feel alive.”

Scheduled to take place 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the 200 block of Park Ave., the Night Market will feature live performances, both traditional (Samulnori, a group of Korean drum players) and contemporary (the Baltimore Dance Crews Project, a duo of Filipino-American hip-hop dancers, and headlining singer/songwriter Grayson Moon). Local food and drink vendors such as Ekiben and Dooby’s will be on hand, too, as will visual artists, jewelry makers and more.

Coinciding with the Lunar Mid-Autumn Festival, the Night Market was inspired by popular street markets in Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Shanghai, where visitors stroll, taking in the sights, sounds and foods, Dobson said.

The larger point is to present a minority segment of Baltimore’s population with nuance and pride, Dobson said.

“It does all of us a disservice not to provide space for other expressions of cultural identity,” said Dobson, who is part Japanese.

The Night Market’s concept began with a meeting between Stephanie Hsu of the Chinatown Collective and Katherine Chin, a 90-year-old Timonium resident who spent most of her adult life in Baltimore’s Chinatown.

Born in Washington, Chin moved here in the late 1950s, and went on to teach Chinese cooking classes inside the Chinatown grocery store she owned with her late husband, Calvin Chin. The neighborhood was vibrant then, with restaurants, shops and the offices of the Chinese Merchants Association, she said. See full post here…

There are other several efforts by some organizations to completely revive Baltimore’s Chinatowns starting last year. This year, this is another awesome event that aims to revive the historic Chinatown. Lauren Cohen wrote an article in Baltimore Magazine on what to expect from the revitalization of Baltimore’s historic Chinatown. Read the article below to learn more.

What to Expect from the Revitalization of Baltimore’s Historic Chinatown

Developers and community leaders plan a modern interpretation of the forgotten district.

Image Source: Joe Portugal

At the inaugural Charm City Night Market last fall, 12,000 people flocked to the heart of Baltimore’s historic Chinatown to sip soju, snack on steamed buns, dance with Korean drumming troupes, and browse works by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists beneath glowing red lanterns strung overhead.

It was an energy similar to the lauded Chinatowns of San Francisco and New York City but, unfortunately, one that locals hadn’t felt on the 200 block of Park Avenue since Baltimore’s hub for Asian immigrants faded away decades ago.

What many didn’t know was that the festival was only the first step in a full revitalization of the once-bustling community.

“Our ultimate goal was to always to resurrect an AAPI presence in Chinatown,” says Leandro Lagera of the Chinatown Collective, which organized the festival. “The Night Market proved that there could be something there that is more permanent.”

Park Avenue Plans

Though the overall transformation is still in its early phases, community leaders have already expressed a keen interest in resurrecting the historic district. It’s all expected to begin with a project spearheaded by local developer Christopher Janian of Vitruvius Co., who is planning a reconstruction of the vacant lot at 400 Park Avenue.

Janian plans to transform the lot into an 80,000-square-foot apartment building featuring efficient living spaces (10 percent of the units will be less than $1,000 per month) and street-level shops and restaurants that pay homage to historic Chinatown. He has partnered with the Chinatown Collective to consult on what the design of the retail and dining spaces will eventually look like.

Park Avenue Partners, an LLC comprised of Janian and three other firms, has also purchased the neighboring building at 409 Tyson Street, as well as a block of five dilapidated rowhomes at 406-414 Park Avenue. The plan is to renovate the former homes into one large space that will eventually house a modern Asian restaurant. Learn more here…

Baltimore’s Chinatown has been part of the Charm City’s long and colorful history, which makes its revitalization worthwhile. In addition, there are over 12,000 people flocked the Chinatown in the recent events in the area. If you want to know more about Baltimore Chinatown events, visit our Baltimore page at to learn more about this event.

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