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Philadelphia Chinatown Urban Renewal Tour

This tour covers three major projects of urban renewal – Independence Mall; Vine Street Expressway; and Market East. 

Independence Park a project of (in some ways national) civic space development, also attempt at new office development (surrounding the Mall).

The Vine Street Expressway’s story was in many ways shared nationally – highways proposed through downtowns across the U.S., often sparking highway revolts that were sometimes successful.

Market East was a leading, and less common – if not unique – project to reconfigure downtown transit lines, create a new transit hub, and concentrate retail around it, mainly in the form of a downtown mall. 

These three of these projects, together with the Convention Center built later, surrounded – and destroyed large portions of – Philadelphia’s Chinatown.  Central city Chinatowns’ destruction by urban renewal is a pattern/history shared by many cities in the U.S.

Yet Philadelphia's Chinatown has persisted. In fact, today, Chinatown is celebrated and promoted, as seen in this photo taken from the city's tourism promotion website.  Based on your observations and what you learn in this tour, what factors do you think could help explain the retention of Chinatown in the midst of so much destruction and renewal? 

Image source: Visit Philadelphia,

Map Free
540 Market St, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Philadelphia Chinatown Urban Renewal Tour
  1. Independence Mall
  2. Corner of 6th and Arch
  3. Franklin Square
  4. Police Headquarters
  5. The African-American Museum in Philadelphia
  6. Arch St between 8th and 9th
  7. Race and 9th Streets
  8. 9th and Winter
  9. Southeast corner of Winter and 10th
  10. 10th Street Plaza
  11. On Lok House
  12. Chinatown Friendship Gate
  13. Market East
  14. Fashion District