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The Los Angeles Chinatown Project Association envisioned a commercial and residential center that adapted Chinese architectural elements to a Western setting. Peter SooHoo Sr. led the effort, and Y. C. Hong, one of the founding members, constructed multiple buildings on Gin Ling Way, including his own law offices. The designs of architects Adrian Wilson and Erle Webster helped promote tourism, while the modern amenities appealed to Chinese business owners. The addition of neon lighting ensured its vitality as a destination for nightlife.

It was very crowded when Chinatown first opened in the late 30s and 40s. During the war it was packed, it was the place to go. There was no Disneyland.”

- Pat SooHoo Lem

Neon lighting concept for New Chinatown by Electrical Products Corp. (c. 1936)

Construction of New Chinatown (1938)

It was a former brick yard. So it was an area where the soil had been dug out and excavated and then bricks were pressed and fired...So later on the land had to be filled. And so the buildings of New Chinatown and the West Plaza are on a new fill soil.”

- Eugene Moy

When people ask me about my great-grandfather [Peter SooHoo Sr.], there's an immediate thought of, oh wow, he was such a big figure and founder for New Chinatown, you guys must own a bunch of property. But no, we have one building. And I think it wasn't about just himself or the family, it's about providing for all of the other families in Chinatown.”

- Caitlin Bryant

Peter SooHoo Sr. poses pushing a man in a wheelbarrow during the construction of New Chinatown (1938)

Map of New Chinatown showing businesses and owners of each property (1939)

From what I can recall, there was a lot of discussion about which would be the first developed area. The idea then of Chinese owning property was not only unusual, it was unknown. Overhearing my mother and father talk about things, this was a big issue as to what would be the most favorable location.”

- Nowland C. Hong

It's something different, unique, definitely a draw. You can't be intellectual about it, it's something that gives you a feeling and makes you feel good. Some sort of escape for a few hours. That's wonderful.”

- Richard Liu

Mayor Tom Bradley and community leader and restaurateur Mama Quon celebrate the 50th Anniversary of New Chinatown (1988)

This looks like one of our cakes [from Phoenix Bakery]. It has strawberries in it, I'd put money on it... Our parents were kind of shocked that this business took off. It's a responsibility to continue the legacy and honor the memory of our parents, who worked very hard not just to develop this place but to make sure that their children were educated to go on to a better life.”

- Kathryn Chan Ceppi and Kelly Chan

It's selling a, more of a look and feel and experience I guess, which is what everybody wants. Yeah, definitely. Like come to Chinatown and you can experience life in China.”

- Richard Liu

Building rendering for You Chung Hong by Erle Webster and Adrian Wilson, architects (c. 1936)