Asian American History Month

This May, the Illinois Lottery salutes the 150-year history of the Asian Pacific American community in Illinois. We're proud to honor the legacy by sharing their history, contributions, and accomplishments to our state.


Chicago was home to Asian Pacific Americans
as early as the late 1800s

The first Chinese immigrants arrived once the first transcontinental railway was completed in 1869.
The first group of Japanese immigrants came in 1892 as part of the Columbian Exposition,
which built the Ho-o-den Pavilion in Chicago.


A Decade of Growth

In the 1920s, Chinese community leaders secured approximately 50 ten-year leases on properties
in the newly developing Chinatown, Chicago. Meanwhile, Koreans who previously worked in Hawaiian
plantations, moved to Illinois with aspirations of finding new opportunities - unrelated to plantation work.


In 1946, Indian Students became Indian immigrants

Students from India traveled to Illinois to study at institutions such as the University of Chicago
to further their studies. Since their visas did not permit them to re-enter the U.S. once they left,
many chose to stay and eventually became the very first Indian immigrants of the modern era.


The population nearly doubles

As a direct result of the 1965 immigration law, permitting admission from all countries,
the Asian Pacific American population skyrocketed from 65,000 to 125,000 - including
Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese refugees in the United States after the Vietnam War.


Asian Pacific American Week Was Proclaimed

Recognizing the growth of the Asian Pacific American population and their contributions to American
society, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first week of May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage
week. In 1990, President George H. Bush extended it to the entire month of May.


A Decade of Progress

In 1984, the Asian American Coalition was created, increasing the visibility of Asian Americans.
The first Asian American liaison positions were created in the offices of the Illinois Governor, Chicago
Mayor, and Senators Paul Simon and Alan J. Dixon. For the first time, Asian Pacific American
appointments were made at city, state, and federal levels.



This decade brought several significant government appointments for Asian Pacific Americans.
Mayor Daley appointed Tariq Malhance as Chicago's Comptroller and re-appointed Tariq Butt as a
member of the Chicago Board of Education. In the judiciary, Israel Desierto, Maria Kuriakos Ciesil, Sanjay
Tailor, Rena Van Tine, and Neera Walsh were all appointed to the Cook County bench.


2010 to Present Day

According to the 2010 Census, there are over 668,694 Asian Pacific Americans in Illinois, making
up 5.2% of the state's population - a 41.2% increase from the population in 2000.

The West Argyle Street Historic District was declared in 2010 and is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places on June 3rd, 2010.