Thrive or survive
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the evolution of built environments in American Chinatowns under influence of a hybridized culture and examine local efforts in Chinatown preservation. Chinatown is an integral part of Chinese Americans’ cultural heritage and an important page of American public history. As urban renewal and economic development programs transformed downtowns in the global era, many Chinatowns are on the verge of disappearing. Using a methodology that combines archive research and field observation, the author chose three Chinatowns located in the metropolitan cities New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, District of Columbia as case studies. Their different circumstances indicated that there is no single Chinatown model but rather multiple Chinese-American immigrant neighborhoods with various experiences of spatial evolution and ethnic preservation. Their comparison contributed to the understanding of current preservation issues. It also provided insights into how to maintain the place-identity of ethnic places as Chinatowns.