This collection contains 131 black-and-white photographs (including some duplicates) of views of building exteriors and streets
scenes in Old Chinatown
and neighboring residential and industrial areas of downtown Los Angeles, California, that were taken prior to the demolition
of the area beginning
on December 23, 1933, to make way for the Los Angeles Union Station railroad passenger terminal. The views include images
of industrial and commercial areas; retail storefronts; warehouses,
manufacturing, utility and railroad buildings; houses and apartments with balconies; dirt streets and alleys; children; automobiles;
and dilapidated and vacant buildings.
Notably, almost all of the images are annotated with the street addresses of the buildings depicted.
Chinese immigrants began establishing businesses and residences in downtown Los Angeles in the 1870s, near the historic Los
Angeles Plaza. By the 1880s, the Chinatown
community had expanded to east of Alameda Street to land bordered by Macy Street (later renamed Cesar E. Chavez Avenue). In
the 1910s, property near the Plaza that
encompassed much of Chinatown and adjacent railroad and industrial land was identified as a potential site for a union passenger
railroad terminal to be shared by
the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. By the early 1930s,
following years of litigation over
the project, plans were finalized to build the terminal on the site. The project required the acquisition of the land, much
of it owned by the Southern Pacific
Railroad, the relocation of affected residents, and the razing of all buildings. The demolition of old Chinatown began on
December 23, 1933, and the grand opening
of the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal occurred on May 3, 1939. "New Chinatown," developed by Chinese-American leaders,
was built a few blocks north of the old Chinatown, opened in June 1938.
131 photographs : gelatin silver prints ; sheets 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 format)
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