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How to use transit to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 1, 2023

AAPI Heritage Month Blog Head 1

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States. This month pays tribute to Americans who trace their heritage to countries across the Asian continent, Native Hawaiians, and descendants of the Pacific islands of Melanesia and Polynesia. The month of May was chosen to commemorate AAPI heritage due to the significant developments labored and led by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, specifically the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869, with the majority of workers hailing from China. To commemorate the invaluable efforts and cultural contributions AAPI individuals have made, take transit to explore multicultural neighborhoods around the city, partake in celebratory events, and much more.

Multicultural Neighborhoods

West Argyle Street Historic District

Most popularly known as “Asia on Argyle,” this Uptown hotspot listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the hub of a variety of local businesses, family-owned restaurants, and supermarkets dedicated to serving authentic and delicious cuisine and products from Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Thai roots. Located just off the Argyle Red Line stop, it’s easily one of the most accessible and tasty adventures in Chicagoland.

Where: Argyle Street and surrounding area in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Argyle stop), then walk 1 minute.
  • CTA bus route #147 (Sheridan & Foster stop), then walk 9 minutes (0.4 miles).
  • Metra UP-N (Ravenswood stop), transfer to CTA bus route #81 (Broadway & Lawrence stop), then walk 7 minutes (0.4 miles). 

Devon Avenue

Locally known as “Little India,” this West Ridge neighborhood corridor is bustling with food, culture, and shopping. With a vibrant mix of cultures from Pakistan, India, China, and many other countries from South and East Asia, it won’t be hard to find vegetarian, vegan, or traditional foods with a local twist on Devon Avenue.

Where: Devon Avenue and surrounding area in the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Loyola stop), transfer to CTA bus route #155 (Devon & Western stop).
  • Metra UP-N Line (Rogers Park stop), transfer to CTA bus route #96 (Lunt & Western stop), then transfer to CTA bus route #49B (Western & Devon stop).

Chinatown

Visit one of the most accessible and fastest growing neighborhoods in the city to be immersed in a thriving hub of Chinese culture. Chinatown hosts a plethora of Asian-inspired public art and parks, museums and art galleries, shops, bakeries, and restaurants, making Chicago’s one of the largest Chinatowns in the country.

Where: Chinatown neighborhood

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Cermak-Chinatown stop), then walk 8 minutes (0.4 miles).
  • CTA Green Line (Cermak-McCormick Place stop), then walk 11 minutes (0.6 miles).
  • CTA bus route #62 (Archer & Cermak/Princeton stop), then walk 5 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • Metra Electric Line (27th St. stop), then walk 7 minutes (0.3 miles) to King Drive & 25th Street to catch CTA bus route #21 (Cermak & Archer stop), then walk 4 minutes (0.2 miles).

Cultural Events

AAPI Restaurant Week

From May 12-21, 2023, join the OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to advance the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, for their AAPI Chicagoland Restaurant Week. With dozens of participating restaurants and street food vendors, this week is meant to showcase restaurants owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from both Chicago and the suburbs. Check out the link for their 76-page directory sorted by neighborhood/suburb, cuisine, and restaurant name.

Where: Chicagoland

How to get there: Varies by restaurant, with more detailed instructions on their website.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Chicago Community Kick-Off

Co-hosted by OCA Greater Chicago, the Asian American Coalition of Chicago, the Asian American Executive Network, Chicago Asian Network, and the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Association, a Community Kick-Off will take place on May 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to kickstart the monthlong celebration. Enjoy speakers and performers and the opportunity to learn about the most pressing issues for the AAPI community.

Where: MTCC Auditorium & Ballroom, 3201 S State St, Chicago, IL 60616

How to get there:

  • CTA Green Line (35th-Bronzeville-IIT stop), then walk 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Red Line (Sox-35th stop), then walk 11 minutes (0.5 miles).
  • CTA bus route #4 (Michigan & 32nd Street), then walk 2 minutes (0.1 mile).
  • Metra Rock Island Line (35th St. - Lou Jones stop), then walk 7 minutes (0.4 miles).

Learn more

Chicago History Museum’s AAPI Heritage Month Family Event

Visit the Chicago History Museum on Sunday, May 21, in commemoration of the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the US on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which was built by Chinese immigrant workers. This celebration is included with general admission.

Where: 1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Clark/Division stop), then walk 10 minutes (0.5 miles).
  • CTA bus route #22 or #36 (Clark & North stop), then walk 1 minute.
  • Metra UP-N or UP-NW Line (Clybourn stop), walk 1 minute to Cortland & Ashland to catch CTA bus route #73 (Clark & North stop), then walk 1 minute.

Learn more

Supporting and celebrating AAPI enterprises, events, and places can be done year-round. Check out the Chicago Public Library’s Guide to find more events celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and their respective cultures.

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