Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anaheim's Chinatown

Most people don't realize that a number of Orange County towns once had their own Chinatowns, including Santa Ana, Anaheim and Orange. The image above (from the Anaheim Heritage Center) shows the last building in Anaheim's Chinatown to be demolished. This house, at 119 W. Chartres St., was torn down in 1940.
According to Leo Friis' book, When Anaheim Was 21,
"Chinese commenced settling in Anaheim in the early [Eighteen] Seventies, most of them crowding into an area facing Chartes Street between Anaheim Boulevard and Lemon Street. In 1876, the [Anaheim] Gazette editor estimated that one-sixth of the town's population was Oriental. Many Chinese engaged in truck farming northeast of Anaheim and their vegetable wagons were a familiar sight. ...Actually, Anaheim was a good place for Chinese to live. Its citizens never carried to extremes the prejudice found in many other towns."
Tonight, the Anaheim Historical Society will celebrate their city's Chinese heritage with a special meeting for Chinese New Year. The program will include traditional Chinese dancers, music, and a presentation. The public is welcome to attend this free event. The program will be held at 7pm, Feb. 15, at the Loara Elementary School Auditorium, at Broadway and Loara St.


douglas macintosh said...

Sad that there are almost no standing structures from any of the OC Chinatown. What a treasure this building would be if it were still standing.
I remember doing some research at the main branch of the Anaheim library about 20 years ago. The librarian mentioned to me about all of the Chinese artifacts that construction crews had found when they put in the parking lot for the near by telephone company building.
Also recall my great Uncle Herb Straw talking about seeing the Santa Ana Chinatown set on fire when he has a young lad. He stated the area was burned because citizens were worried about diseases. Hmm?
I have had the opportunity to do excavation work at several urban and rural Chinatown sites, including Ventura, Redlands, Union Station L.A., Mojave & Barstow regions. Fascinating archaeology and wonderful artifacts. Chinese immigrants sure knew how to improvise and make do in a strange new land.
Once again, thanks Chris.

Connie Moreno said...

Interesting post! And I was dumb enough to think that only L.A. had a Chinatown.

douglas macintosh said...

Connie, I always enjoy your posts & point of view. Thank you.

douglas Macintosh said...

Here is an article I found on line about Santa Ana's Chinatown.
Guess the place was burned in 1906 by the city. My Great-Uncle's memory was correct about this event.

colony rabble said...

Thanks for the plug Chris. The meeting was fascinating! We learned a lot about Chinese New Year and Chinese culture from members of the Chinese Baptist Church, on Broadway, built where the old Broadway School once stood. Interestingly none of our Chinese guests knew about the Chinese history in Anaheim, so we were able to share the background not only of our Chinatown, but the Chinese Section of the old Anaheim Cemetery on Sycamore! By the way, the SBC building, that stands where the old Chinatown was, is up for sale. Someone will be tearing that down (the empty building has become a homeless encampment and graffiti target) and it would be interesting to have some archeology experts come check the site before something else goes up there!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for bringing some more fascinating history about the OC to us readers.