Skip to content

Capital District Chinese History


The exact year that Chinese immigrants began to settle in the Albany, New York area is not known. The first listing of a Chinese business occurs in the 1877 Albany City Directory, when Yut Sing was listed as having a laundry in his home at 668 Broadway in Albany. Three years later, the U.S. Census counted five Chinese inhabitants of Albany. By 1886, the city directory had a total of nine laundries with Chinese surnames. The small community grew slowly in the early 1900's, but by 1920 there were listings for 24 Chinese laundries in Albany. One of the proprietors, Lee Hing, is noted in the New York Exclusion Records as having come to the United States at the young age of 18, entering through the port of San Francisco in 1886. He lived in New York City's Chinatown for a time, and then moved up the Hudson River to Albany, a common migration route for those who settled in the Capital District. The exclusion records reported that Mr. Hing first had an Albany address in 1907.

Many of the early Chinese residents of Albany lived in the area of Green Street and Hudson Avenue. In 1920, there were two Chinese restaurants on Green Street, and the following year the Oriental Occidental Restaurant opened at 44 State Street, now the site of Jack's Oyster House.


Census: Official counting of people or things.
Inhabitants: People who live in area or dwell in a house.
Migration: Movement from one place to another.

Click on the image to learn more.

Oriental Occidental Restaurant
Exclusion Record for Chu Cow

The New York Exclusion records cover the years from the passage of the first exclusion legislation in 1882, to its end in 1943. The index lists both Chinese immigrants, as well as Americans of Chinese ancestry, who were traveling in and out of the country. During this time period, a total of 67 Chinese people reported having an Albany address.

The following table shows the growth of the Chinese population of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan area, as reported to the U.S. Census from 1940 through 1970.

Year of U.S. Census Total No. of Chinese No. of Foreign-Born Chinese

As the chart shows, in the late 1960s there was a large population increase for the Capital District, in both the number of Chinese immigrants as well as the number of U.S. citizens with Chinese ancestry. Mr. Chungchin Chen moved to the area in early 1970, and recalls that most of the Chinese inhabitants at that time were from Taiwan, and many of them had immigrated to the United States as students during the 1960s.

Click on the image to learn more.

By 1971, the community had grown large enough that a formal organization was possible. The Formosan Club of the Capital District of New York, Inc., was founded in that year. The group later changed its name to the Taiwanese American Association of the Capital District. The Chinese Community Center of the Capital District of New York (CCC) began in 1973 with sixteen member families. The major purpose of the organization was to sponsor a Chinese school so that children could learn the language of their cultural heritage. As membership in the organization grew, services were expanded to include folk dance groups, a playhouse, chorus, and sports groups. The organization also sponsors seminars, cultural events, and social activities. Currently there are 400 member families on the group's roster.

In the 1980s, the Chinese American Alliance of the New York Capital District was founded for the purpose of uniting Chinese Americans to fully participate in the American democratic process. Their mission statement consists of a commitment to secure and defend the civil rights and human rights of all people, with a special emphasis on Chinese Americans. The organization sponsors a scholarship and arranges lectures on issues of importance to the community. When the occasion arises that the community feels the need to make their political voice heard, the Alliance makes the appropriate contacts with public agencies.

Chinese dancers at the Chinese Community Center Playhouse Preview, 2002

Click on the image to learn more.

Chinese Dragon at a New Year's Celebration, 2002

Click on the image to learn more.

During the 1990s, the Chinese Christian Church of Greater Albany was organized. The church grew out of an informal Chinese Bible study group that had begun meeting at the State University at Albany uptown campus.

The Chinese Community Center is currently in the midst of a drive to construct a school/cultural center in the Town of Colonie. Their goal is to build a place to promote Chinese-American contributions to the mainstream culture; teach Chinese heritage and culture to all people who have an interest; act as a resource center for community service and cultural events; and create a library to collect heritage books and tapes that will be fully available to the public. The estimated groundbreaking date for the one million dollar project is July of 2003.

The Capital District Chinese community has changed over the years from a community with a majority of immigrants from Taiwan and Hong Kong, to the current population with about 60% of the community coming from Mainland China. The organizations of the Capital District Chinese community include all who wish to participate, regardless of race or national origin.