History of Chinese in Los Angeles

There has always been a large population of Chinese that is located within Los Angeles as well as the metro area in Los Angeles, especially in history. According to the 2010 census, there were over 390,000 Chinese Americans located in Los Angeles country and that is about 4% of the county’s population while there are over 65,000 Chinese Americans located within the city of Los Angeles which make up 1.8% of the population for the city.

According to historian William Mason, the very first Chinese to be located in Los Angeles were Ah Fou and Ah Luce, who actually arrived in 1850. Located in Harris Newmark’s memoirs, the very first Chinese person was actually a servant of his uncle Joseph Newmark.

Then in 1871, there was the Chinese Massacre, which was a racially motivated riot that happened in October, 1871 located in Los Angeles. A large mob of 500 white men entered into Chinatown to rob, attack and even murder Chinese residents within the city. There was an estimated 17 to 20 Chinese immigrants that were systematically tortured and then hanged by this mob, which made the Chinese Massacre the largest mass lynching ever in American History.

Then by 1900, there were only about 3,000 Chinese immigrants within the city. Many of the residents of old Chinatown came from Siyi or Sanyi located in Guangdong, China. Old Chinatown began to really decline as more Chinese began to leave. Most Chinese Americans moved to East Adams between the 1920s and 1930s. The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal which was building 1933, was actually built over much of the old Chinatown, so there was a new Chinatown established after Herbert Lapham, who was an agent for the Santa Fe Railway and Peter SooHoo Sr. managed to negotiate a land purchase for what would become modern day Chinatown.

Then in 1938, Christine Sterling, who was a civic leader had actually managed to develop China City, which was a huge tourist attraction. The Chinese that worked there actually lived in China City. Then after 2 major fires, China City would decay and would be officially gone by 1950. In order to make way for the Hollywood Freeway, most of the old Chinatown would be destroyed then in 1951. The left over parts were part of Garnier Block and Sanchez Alley.

More Chinese, especially those who were coming from Hong Kong, would immigrate to Los Angeles after the 1956 Immigration and Nationality Act was passed. Then by the end of the 20th century most Chinese would begin to move into Suburbs like Arcadia, Rosemead, Alhambra and Monterey Park. Then by 2013, there would be large amounts of ethnic Chinese who would move into communities within the San Gabriel Valley which would include Walnut, San Gabriel and San Marino.