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CTA L train at Cermak-Chinatown station

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 Station) and walk less than 1 minute
  • CTA Bus #81 (Broadway and Lawrence Stop) and walk 7 minutes (0.4 miles)
  • CTA Bus #92 and #146 (Broadway and Foster Stop) and walk 6 minutes (0.3 miles)
  • CTA Bus #36 (Broadway and Argyle Stop) and walk less than 1 minute
  • CTA Bus #151 (Sheridan and Argyle Stop) and walk less than 1 minute

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 Bus #155 (Devon and Campbell Stop) and walk less than 1 minute
  • CTA Bus #49B (Western and Devon Stop) and walk less than 1 minute
  • Metra UP-N Line (Rogers Park Station) and walk 18 minutes (0.9 miles) to CTA Bus #155 (Devon and Western) and walk less than 1 minute

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)
  • CTA Green Line (Cermak-McCormick Place) and walk 11 minutes (0.6 miles)
  • CTA Bus #62 (Archer & Cermak/Princeton)
  • CTA Bus #24 (Wentworth & 23rd Street)

Cultural Events

AAPI Restaurant Week

From May 13-22, 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 here: AAPI Chicagoland Restaurant Week

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Chicago Community Kick-Off

Co-hosted by OCA Greater Chicago, the Asian American Coalition of Chicago, and the Asian American Executive Network, there will be a Community Kick-Off on May 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 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: Urban Convene 2715 W Peterson Ave Chicago, IL 60659

How to get there:

  • CTA Bus #93 (California and Peterson Stop) and walk 2 minutes
  • CTA Bus #84 (Peterson and Washtenaw Stop) and walk 2 minutes
  • CTA Red Line (Bryn Mawr) and walk 2 minutes to CTA Bus #84 (Peterson and Washtenaw Stop) and walk 2 minutes
  • CTA Brown Line (Kimball) and connect to CTA Bus #93 (California and Peterson Stop) and walk 2 minutes
  • CTA Brown Line (Western) and connect to CTA Bus #49B (Western and Peterson Stop) and walk 8 minutes (0.4 miles)

KCON: Korean Culture and Music Festival

On May 20 and 21, welcome some of the biggest names in K-pop to Chicago. Taking place in the region for the first time, KCON is a global celebration of Korean culture and music. It is the festival’s debut performance post-pandemic along with its 10-year anniversary. The event will host music performances along with beauty and food vendors.

Where: Rosemont Theater 5400 N. River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018

How to get there:

  • CTA Blue Line (Rosemont Station) and walk 5 minutes to the Rosemont CTA Station to connect to Pace Bus #330 (Balmoral and Park Place) or Pace Buses #303 or #332 (River Road and Balmoral Ave) and walk less than 1 minute
  • Metra NCS Line (Rosemont Station) and walk 10 minutes (0.5 miles)

Spring Festival at Caldwell Woods

On May 15, adventure into the Forest Preserves of Cook County for their springtime celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Spring Festival will host a variety of free arts and crafts projects honoring the AAPI community and provides families a great opportunity to explore the natural amenities Cook County has to offer.

Where: Caldwell Woods W Devon Ave & N Nagle Ave, Chicago, IL 60646

How to get there:

  • CTA Blue Line (Jefferson Park Station) and connect to the Pace Pulse Milwaukee Line or Pace Bus #270 (Devon Station) and walk 9 minutes (0.5 miles)
  • CTA Green Line (Ridgeland Station) and connect to CTA Bus #86 (Milwaukee/Devon Stop) and walk 8 minutes (0.4 miles)

Supporting and celebrating AAPI enterprises, events, and places can be done year-round. Check out this 2022 Illinois AAPI Calendar of Events and 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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