New Chinatown & Union Station

Los Angeles underwent tremendous growth early in the twentieth century, as new water sources helped the city expand, the film industry made its definitive move away from New York to sunny Los Angeles, and businesses in oil and shipping prospered locally. It was time for Los Angeles to build a top-notch train terminal, Union Station, and the decision was made to build right where Old Chinatown had stood from 1870 until the 1930's. In the same ways Latinos would later be displaced from Sonora Town and the Chavez Ravine during the construction of Dodger Stadium in the 1950s, Chinese Americans were displaced in the 1930's, "buried" so to speak under one of L.A.'s most iconic buildings, sometimes called the "last of the great railway stations."

Some Chinese American leaders saw the move to New Chinatown as an opportunity to plan a better community, one with improved housing options and better access to stores and businesses. Interviews here with Peter SooHoo and Munson A. Kwok document this optimism for New Chinatown. Still, it is clear that many people today in Los Angeles do not realize the history of this vast relocation imposed upon the same Chinese American population that the city had segregated into the area of Old Chinatown. Today, most people recognize El Pueblo de Los Angeles, located just across the street from Union Station, as the bedrock of our ties to Spanish and Mexican settlers, but the Chinese American Museum stands here as well as the last remaining building of Old Chinatown.

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Steve Wong - Artist

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