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Explore the history and architecture of Los Angeles’ vibrant Chinatown.
What is now known as Chinatown wasn’t the first in Los Angeles. The first permanent settlement of Chinese immigrants centered around El Pueblo de Los Angeles. From the outset, Chinese Americans faced discrimination, evidenced by the jobs they were allowed to have, the places they were allowed to live, and the violence their community endured from others. Still, Chinese immigrants continued to settle and prosper in Los Angeles. But the denial of public services to the Chinese by city officials, such as sewer systems and electricity, rendered Old Chinatown a health risk. A proposal to raze Old Chinatown in favor of a new railway terminal was issued in 1913. At the time of Old Chinatown’s condemnation in the 1930s, there were close to 3,000 Chinese Americans living in Los Angeles, most of whom faced displacement.
New Chinatown was born as a destination as well as a community. Its founders envisioned a place that would serve and protect local Chinese American residents, as well as draw visitors to partake of its unique offerings.
In the next year, a new Downtown Community Plan will be adopted, which will offer zoning and planning guidelines for different neighborhoods in Downtown Los Angeles, and which has the potential to dramatically reshape Chinatown. The Conservancy is working with community activists and organizations in Chinatown to help amplify their voices, in an effort to ensure that protections for vulnerable residents and the historic places that they care about in the neighborhood are an important part of the finished plan.
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Los Angeles Conservancy
Phone: (213) 623-2489
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Credits: 1890, A. M. Edelman, 1972, Gilbert L. Leong and Richard Layne Tom, 1916, W. S. Garrett, 2005; Photos courtesy of Barry Schwartz, Architect(s) and Year Constructed; 1938, Webster & Wilson, 1977, Gilbert L. Leong, 1939, Webster & Wilson, 1906, R. B. Young, 1913, Hudson & Munsell, 1972, Hai C. Tan, 1949, Eugene Kinn Choy & Associates