Chinatown Coalition discusses Chinese-American history

By Ling-Mei Wong


The Chinatown Coalition met March 14 at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.

Kate Fichter, MassDOT South Station Expansion Project Manager presented plans for expanding South Station. No construction is taking place yet, as the project will be in the planning stage for about three years.

The station is too small to meet demand for travel from Boston to New York City and Washington, D.C., along with travel within Massachusetts. “We are looking to design and build a bigger station with the existing station at the core,” Fichter said. “The jewel of the project is to move the station onto the land where the postal office is now, so we can regain access to Dorchester Avenue.”

Dorchester Avenue is behind South Station and would enable greater automobile access, alleviating traffic on Atlantic Avenue, Fichter said. The project’s environmental notification form was submitted March 15, which evaluates potential expansion sites. There is not enough space now for trains to stop at off-peak hours, requiring more space at the station or elsewhere.

“I’d like to see some signs at South Station point to Chinatown,” said Stephanie Fan, a board member of the Chinatown Lantern.

More information on the South Station project can be found at .

David Chang presented the Chinatown Atlas, a project organized by retired MIT professor Tunney Lee and the Chinese Historical Society of New England. It is a graphical depiction of how Chinatown has grown over the years through building elevation maps, photos and newspaper clippings.

“Tunney thought he would like to develop a website documenting changes in the physical dimensions of buildings,” Chang said. “Using that as a base as for history, it would include all the factors external to Chinatown, like immigration laws and what was happening in the rest of the city. That’s why he used the term ‘atlas.’”

The Chinatown Atlas was displayed in the Chinatown Lantern and is now at the Kwong Kow Chinese School at 87 Tyler Street.

Fan also gave an update on the Chinatown Lantern reading room, which closed Feb. 25. “It was a successful run and we could see people’s commitment,” she said.

The Lantern reading room at Oak Terrace will remain open to residents, staffed by two Asian Community Development Corporation volunteers from Tufts University. Children’s books and laptops are available, while the rare Chinese and historical books are in storage until the Lantern has a permanent location. Board members are still needed to develop the project, Fan said.

CHSNE cut its executive director position for March, after reviewing its budget and operating on a deficit for several years, said Fan, who is a CHSNE member. It will have an office manager and volunteers staffing its office at 2 Boylston Street.

The next Chinatown Coalition meeting will be on April 11 and will focus on youth development.

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About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England. Contact Ling-Mei at [email protected] 舢舨報紙總編輯。舢舨是全紐英倫唯一的中英雙語雙週報。
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