Little Italy and China town can be found along Preston and Somerset streets just west of Centretown. Side streets also feature many businesses catering to this cultural area. The neighborhood still consists of many single family homes for sale but recent development has concentrated on in fill and developing more Ottawa condos.
Little Italy was initially settled around 1900 by Italian immigrants. In the years following World War II a second wave of Italian immigrants was joined by communities of Ukrainian and Polish immigrants in the area.
Each June the neighborhood hosts the Italian Week festival, Ottawa’s celebration of Italian culture. Two area streets have been given commemorative Italian street names. Gladstone Avenue is also called Via Marconi, and Preston Street is called Corso Italia.
In recent years a section of West Centretown north of Little Italy has found itself home to many Asian immigrants, primarily from China and Vietnam. This led to the area along Somerset between Bank and Preston being designated Somerset Heights in 1989. It was later renamed Chinatown in 2005.
While officially designated “Chinatown”, the area is home to businesses from many Asian cultures, such as Vietnamese, Korean and Thai. Restaurants specializing in Ph? are quite common. An archway, similar to the one in Little Italy, has been built upon the entrance to the western section of Chinatown over Somerset Street, west of Bronson Avenue. It was unveiled in the early Fall of 2010.