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

May 1, 2024

22 RTA 0679

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 17-26, 2024, 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 a directory sorted by neighborhood/suburb, cuisine, and restaurant name. 

Where: Chicagoland 

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

Asian American Showcase 

The Gene Siskel Film Center is hosting its 27th annual Asian American Showcase, an event running from May 17-23 to provide a platform for new works by established and emerging Asian American filmmakers. The multi-day festival will include both shorts and feature-length films. Interested attendees can buy a festival pass for the whole week or individual tickets for each film. Visit the link to see film showtimes.

Where: 164 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

How to get there:

  • CTA Blue Line (Washington stop)
  • CTA Red Line (Lake stop)
  • CTA Green, Orange, Brown, Purple, or Pink Line (State/Lake stop)
  • Metra Electric Line (Millenium Station stop) and walk 4 minutes (0.2 miles).

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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