Chinese Massacre of 1871: A Polarized Los Angeles

Learn more about the rich history of Olvera Street through song and dance on "Artbound" S9 E4: Variedades on Olvera Street. Watch now.

Old Chinatown, with its herbal healers and Chinese restaurants attracted many Angelenos seeking exotic pleasures and diversity, as well as gambling, opium, and prostitution. The combustible environment sparked a long line of racial riots in Los Angeles, including the infamous massacre of 1871, in which more than five hundred people ran through the Calle de los Negros–Chinatown's main drag–to attack, rob and murder residents in retaliation of the death of a white rancher who had been caught in the crossfire of two Chinese factions. Racial tensions and violence persisted for decades.


Eugene Moi on the Chinese Massacre
"A Tong dispute turns into LA's first riot."


William Estrada on the Chinese Massacre
"Los Angeles became polarized after the Chinese Massacre."



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