Sydney’s Chinatown gates to be granted heritage status

Sydney’s Chinatown gates to be granted heritage status
via Maksym Kozlenko (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Bryan Ke
February 21, 2024
The iconic ceremonial gates of Sydney’s Chinatown, located at each end of the Dixon Street precinct’s northern and southern sides in Haymarket, Australia, will be granted heritage status as part of a plan to help revitalize Chinatown. 
Driving the news: The local Australian government set out to grant the Chinatown gates heritage status after public consultation, which saw respondents describe Dixon Street as “the heart of Chinatown” and the gates themselves as “welcoming and culturally symbolic,” according to Time Out Sydney.
The move, part of the Sydney City Council’s proposed 44-million-Australian-dollar ($28.85 million) Haymarket and Chinatown revitalization strategy, reportedly began in 2020 when Chinatown saw dwindling numbers of visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the gates: Designed by local architect and politician Henry Tsang, the gates reportedly took inspiration from Chinese arches known as “damen” and opened in 1980. The event coincided with the formal recognition of Chinatown by then-Sydney Lord Mayor Nelson Meers.
Chinese immigrants began moving to Sydney as early as 1818. Waves of them settled in Haymarket in the 1870s following the construction of new fruit and vegetable markets called Belmore Markets. By the 1920s, the city became an economic and sociocultural center for the Chinese community.
Why it matters: Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Vincent Lim, president of the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce, said the gates are an “important and significant marker” that identifies Chinatown, much like “what the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are to Sydney.”
Dr. Sophie Loy-Wilson, a historian of Chinese Australian communities at the University of Sydney, told the Herald that the gates had survived Sydney’s bubonic plague outbreak in 1900 and the impacts of the White Australia Policy. “While other Chinatowns in central Sydney, like the one once in The Rocks, have diminished in importance, Haymarket has remained a special place for the community,” she said.
 
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