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Encyclopedia Of Chicago - Chinese

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Encyclopedia Of Chicago - Chinese

The first Chinese immigrants to Chicago arrived in the early 1870s from the West Coast of the United States. Lured by the gold rush and job opportunities abroad in the face of economic crisis in southern China, male Cantonese laborers began migrating to California in the early 1850s. Intending only temporary stays, they were willing to work long hours at menial and even dangerous jobs in agriculture, mining, small industries, and railroads in order to support families back home. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which had employed thousands of Chinese laborers, and growing legal discrimination and harassment in California, many Chinese migrated eastward in the 1870s to major cities like Chicago, New York, and Boston. Chinese settlers in Chicago attracted other migrants from the West Coast, and the population grew steadily, from 172 in 1880 to 1,179 in 1900 and 2,353 in 1920.


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