Los Angeles Chinatown
Remembered Project

The Chinatown Remembered Project documents the history of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s. This was a period of social and economic unrest across the Pacific region. Change was particularly profound for Chinese Americans in Los Angeles. In the 1930s during the depths of the depression, Los Angeles witnessed the destruction of Old Chinatown and its replacement by two new districts, China City and New Chinatown. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the city mobilized for war. The Second World War brought new industries, new opportunities, and new residents to the region, but it also saw the US government force tens of thousands of the city’s Japanese American residents into wartime incarceration camps. The lives of Chinese American youth who grew up in Los Angeles during this period were shaped by these global and local events. This project tells their story.

Community Members

Explore profiles of the generation of Chinese Americans who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s.

Neighborhoods

Visit the major neighborhoods that made up the Chinese American community of LA in the 1930s and 1940s.

Youth Activities 

Read about the activities this generation of Chinese Americans took part in for fun during the 1930s and 1940s.

World at War

Learn how the outbreak of a world war during the 1940s affected Chinese American individuals living in LA.

About the Chinatown Remembered Project

The newly established Chinatown Remembered Project represents the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California’s on-going effort to document the history of Los Angeles Chinatown and the surrounding Chinese American communities as they developed in the 1930s and 1940s. In order to document this history, local college-age youth worked closely with an older generation of Chinese Americans who remembered the period. The older generation of Chinatown residents shared their life histories and memories with our youth volunteers and interns who then edited the stories down into the short video life histories on this website.

The Los Angeles Chinatown Remembered Project has two stated goals. On the one hand, we hope to document the memories of these pivotal decades in local history while we still have the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, we hope to expose a younger generation to the importance of preserving local history. As such, we look on the process of documenting history to be as important as the documentation itself. We see the Chinatown Remembered Project as not only a documentation project, but also as a way to attract a new and younger generation of young people to the important work of historical preservation.

In keeping with these goals, many of the articles on this website were written and researched by local youth: some by our college interns and others by members of the local Los Angeles Chinatown Youth Council (LACYC), a youth group sponsored by the Chinatown Service Center. Members of LACYC were given copies of the interview transcripts and access to the CHSSC Reading Room, and they developed and wrote short articles focused on our local history. These articles were then submitted to the CHSSC and edited by Annie Luong our project youth coordinator and a student herself. Annie revised many of the essays from the original drafts submitted by her fellow youth and prepared them for publication.

It is our hope that the accomplishments of the Chinatown Remembered Project can be expanded in the coming years. The work of this project is only one of many projects currently supported by the CHSSC. From the Portraits of Pride series to our new Chinese American Family History working group, the CHSSC continues to do the important work of documenting the history of our local community.

Read the history of the Los Angeles Chinatown during the 30’s and 40’s →

This project was made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of the Council’s statewide California Stories Initiative. The Council is an independent non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on the Council and the California Stories Initiative, visit www.californiastories.org