6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Was New Chinatown a Neighborhood or a Media Campaign?

Support Provided By
New Chinatown
New Chinatown

Old Chinatown, with its businesses and family associations, grew steadily between 1870 and 1930, the year when city officials decided to build a new train terminal - Union Station - on top of it. After decades of forced segregation in Old Chinatown, residents, businesses and organization with strong (albeit restricted covenant-enforced) roots would have to abandon the area. The Chinese American Museum, located at the Garnier Building in El Pueblo, is the only remaining building from the first wave of Chinese immigration to Los Angeles.

charliequon.jpg
Charlie Quon

The impending destruction of Old Chinatown drove residentsCharlie Quon's family - to relocate. Many, including the Quons, chose the mixed race neighborhood of East Adams, creating what many consider to be the first Chinese suburb in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, different groups put together rival plans for a new Chinatown. Some Chinese American civic leaders saw an opportunity to begin anew in a new location, about half a mile northwest from Old Chinatown, while Los Angeles socialite Christine Sterling created the Chinese equivalent to Olvera Street just north of the Union Station site. Dubbed China City - it used sets from the 1937 film The Good Earth in hopes of capturing the feel of a small Chinese village in downtown L.A.. Even though it traded in obvious racial stereotypes, China City became an focal point in New Chinatown, luring Old Chinatown businesses that had been dislocated during the construction of Union Station. Two major fires would eventually put an end to the China City experiment, and local burghers would shift their attention to the development of a new Chinatown.

China City
China City

Under the vision and direction of Peter SooHoo, a relocation plan for Chinese businesses soon took shape, and in the summer of 1938 what we now know as New Chinatown was founded. Historian and activist Munson A. Kwok notes that New Chinatown was built by choice, not destiny. At the center of this particular moment in Chinatown's urban renewal was the plan to create a business hub for the community, recreating the "idyllic charm of Old China" to attract tourists and Angelinos alike. Mixed-use dwellings, with businesses on the first floor and homes on the second floor - think Chung King Road - provided housing to some displaced residents. Many of them were successful business owners from Old Chinatown, such as Fongs and the Jade Tree. The remaining residents moved into areas surrounding the new plaza, next to what was then Little Italy and Sonora Town.

Fong's
Fong's

All in all, New Chinatown was a fresh start for the Chinese, a locus that could house the aspirations, hopes, and growth of the community. But, at its core, it was much like the rest of Los Angeles: a smart business proposition and a media campaign, albeit one designed, controlled and envision by Chinese Americans.

Support Provided By
Read More
Chiqui Diaz at work advocating to end social isolation | Courtesy of Chiqui Diaz

Youth Leaders Making a Difference Honored by The California Endowment

The Youth Awards was created in 2018 to recognize the impact youth voices have in creating change throughout California. Learn more about the positive work they're accomplishing throughout the state.
A 2011 crime scene in Tulare County, where one of Jose Martinez's victims was found. | Courtesy of Marion County Sherff’s Office via FOIA/Buzzfeed

California's Unincorporated Places Can Be Poor, Powerless — and the Perfect Place to Commit Murder

It's time to do better by communities that don’t even have local police to call, let alone defund.
Protesters confront police outside the 3rd Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota after the George Floyd killing | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In California, A History of Young, Powerful Voices in Journalism Emerge

In the Golden State, the youth have a long history of storytelling that uncovers little-heard narratives.