historic photo of shop front of f suite one co
Western Edition Season 2

L.A. Chinatown

“L.A. Chinatown” focuses on the many ways we view Chinatown, both in L.A. and nationally; the Los Angeles Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871; exclusion and inclusion of the Chinese American community; the erasure of old Chinatown and the emergence of new Chinatown; the long L.A. history of the See family; and the future of Chinatown in the era of COVID, the Stop Asian Hate movement, gentrification, and more. Season 2 of Western Edition is produced by Avishay Artsy, Katie Dunham, Greg Hise, Jessica Kim, Elizabeth Logan, Olivia Ramirez, Li Wei Yang, and Stephanie Yi.


L.A.’s Chinatown is a bustling cultural and business hub, legendary in cinematic history and popular with tourists and locals alike. Yet below its surface lies a challenging history – of racial discrimination as well as community resilience – going back more than a century and a half. And it’s a history still being uncovered, as explored in the second season of Western Edition: L.A. Chinatown. This season explores the past, present, and future of one of L.A.’s oldest neighborhoods and one of the first Chinese American cultural centers in the U.S. Expanding on ICW’s multi-year Chinatown History Project, the new episodes build on the Institute’s work digging into archives, collaborating with community partners, and talking to longtime residents to reflect on, remember, and celebrate a neighborhood and its people. Released May 10, 2022.

Transcript available here.

It’s like a puzzle that we’re trying to solve. So, it’s every single photograph, every single documentation, every single letter that we find – you are able to have a better picture into the past.

Quote: Li Wei Yang, Curator of Pacific Rim Collections at The Huntington Library. Image: “Chinatown Entrance,” c. 1938-1956, Dick Whittington Photography Collection, USC Libraries Special Collections.
historic photo of entrance to LA chinatown

Episode 1: What is Chinatown?

As an idea, as a place, even as a single structure, Chinatown has meant and means different things to different people at different times. The first episode of L.A. Chinatown explores these multiple meanings across time and space. Released May 24, 2022.

Transcript available here.

To me, and to many others, Chinatown is home.

Quote: Eugene Moy, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. Image: Small group of men holding instruments during the Chinese New Year celebrations, Chinatown, 1920-1929,” California Historical Society.

Selected images to accompany the episode:

Episode 2: L.A. Chinatown: The Memory of a Massacre

A dark stain on Los Angeles, the horrific massacre of Chinese men and boys in Chinatown still reverberates across community and memory. A movement to memorialize the victims has taken root through civic activism, community organizing, and partnerships with the City of Los Angeles. Released on May 31, 2022.

Season 2 Episode 2 Transcript

I think of one person first, a man who was named Ah Wing, who was the first victim of the mob.

Quote: Laura Dominguez, historian and heritage conservationist. Image: “Old Chinatown, Los Angeles, scene of Chinese Massacre of 1871,” California Historical Society.

Selected images to accompany the episode:


Episode 3: Exclusion and the Struggles for Inclusion

California played a fundamental role in legislating Chinese exclusion in the last decades of the 19th century. This episode explores the history of such exclusionary racism, as well as the ways in which Chinese attorney Y.C. Hong worked on behalf of his thousands of clients trying to return to, or stay in, the United States. Released on June 7, 2022.

Transcript available here.

If you think it’s, you know, chaotic now, it was much worse then.

Quote: Nowland Hong. Image: “Y.C. Hong’s business flier with photo,” c. 1928, Hong Family Papers, The Huntington Library.

Selected images to accompany the episode:

Episode 4: From Old Chinatown to New Chinatown

In the early 1930s, the old Chinatown of Los Angeles disappeared to make way for the new Union Station Passenger Terminal. This episode examines the history of that eradication and displacement alongside the rise of “New Chinatown,” the adjacent community that arose through the vision of Chinese American entrepreneurs and community leaders. Released June 14, 2022.

Transcript available here.

We journey back in time to the 1930s, when L.A.’s first Chinatown was torn down to make way for Union Station.

Image: “Front view of the clock tower (12:07pm) at Union Station Depot on Alameda Street above old Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles, 1951,” Los Angeles Examiner Photographs Collection, USC Libraries.

Selected images to accompany the episode:

Episode 5: The Long L.A. History of the See Family

Spanning multiple generations across Los Angeles history, the See family takes focus in episode five. Novelist and historian Lisa See narrates her family’s rich history, as does Leslee See Leong, whose antique and furniture store has long been a fixture of the See family’s life and work. Released on June 21, 2022.

Transcript available here.

I can walk along Spring Street, and I can see where the Sam Sing Butcher Shop was, and the international grocery was, and I have these very specific memories of that as a child. But of course, it’s gone now.

Quote: Lisa See. Image: “Photo of Fong See standing in front of F. Suie One Co., located on 510 Los Angeles St., ca. 1910s,” Unknown photographer, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
historic photo of shop front of f suite one co

Selected images to accompany the episode:

Episode 6: Today and Tomorrow

What’s next for Chinatown? What challenges does the community face in the era of Covid, of the Stop Asian Hate movement, of gentrification, and the ever-rising cost of living in Los Angeles? Released on June 28, 2022.

Transcript available here.

You know, one could say it’s all Chinatown now. One could say Westwood and USC and Irvine and Fullerton and Arcadia – these are all Chinatown.

Quote: Jason Chu, rapper and activist. Image: “(2022G25) Los Angeles Chinatown,” goldenpower1, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Selected images to accompany the episode: