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El Pueblo de Los Angeles

The Chinese American Museum on North Los Angeles Street

The Chinese American Museum on North Los Angeles Street

The City of Los Angeles got its start in a large block bordered on the north by Cesar E. Chavez Ave, on the east by Alameda Street, on the south by Arcadia Street, and on the west by North Main Street. The area is variously referred to as the Plaza de Los Angeles, Olvera Street, and sometimes as El Pueblo de Los Angeles. It is in this block that two of the city’s ethnic populations are commemorated, the Mexicans on Olvera Street, and the Chinese at the Chinese American Museum.

Martine hasn’t feeling too well lately, so I proposed we take a slightly low-energy visit to the Chinese American Museum. We started by eating at Las Anitas on Olvera Street, where Martine had a plain Pollo a la Plancha and a corn tortilla, while I had Chile Rellenos and Jamaica (a tasty hibiscus flower drink, pronounced hah-MYE-kah).

Then we strolled around the museum, which told of the Chinese struggle to find acceptance in a racist America. In addition to exclusionary laws forbidding more of them to immigrate, there were laws on the books forbidding them to own property or to marry with other races. This was rather difficult, as in 1852 there were 20,000 Chinese immigrants, of which only 17 were women.

Below is a photo of the replica of the Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop within the museum:

Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop

Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop


After visiting the museum, we also had time to see the 1884 Plaza Firehouse (the oldest in L.A.) and Union Station, where I arrived on the El Capitan from Chicago at the end of December 1966 to begin my sojourn in this city.

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