Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Chinatown from day to night

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

A neighborhood is a lot like a person with changing moods and looks. One only has to spend soem time with it to understand. I found myself in Chinatown with three hours to spare. With sunset just around the corner, I decided to walk around and see how the neighborhood morphs from daytime to night.
The East Gate of the plaza.

This pagoda boasts of a painting by Disney legend, Tyrus Wong, best known for his work in Bambi.

Sun Yat Sen was a figure to Chinese around the world, it seems.

Gin Ling Way in the morning.

Dedicated in June 1938, the Central Plaza was one of country's first Chinatowns planned by the local Chinese community. After being forced out of their original settlements to make way for Union Station, the local Chinese community re-congregated around here, putting up banks, groceries, schools and temples nearby.

Phoenix Bakery is famous for its strawberry cake. The owner eventually founded Cathay Pacific Bank and East West Bank.

Phoenix Bakery has been open for a long, long time.

Though much of the Chinese community has probably moved out San Gabriel Valley or other LA suburbs (leaving the Chinatown with a slight sense of desolation), I could still see many longtime residents that never seem to have left and even more indelible marks of the Chinese community.
This building reminds of a building taken right out of the old West, except it's in brick.

This one looks to have a scroll painting in the facade.

While meandering on the sidewalks, I saw an old man taking a walk with a old Walkman radio tuned into a Chinese station, an old woman gathering all the cardboard on the sidewalk (good for her!) and lots of bikes whizzing past me.

She looks like she's been working hard her whole life.

In every Chinese pharmacy, there are always people reading the newspaper.

Looks like they got shopping done.

Hm... a LADOT bus disguised as an old-time trolley.

The buildings still had a distinct oriental feel with Chinese characters on their facades and mythical paintings proudly displayed. Everything somehow reminded me of the Chinatown back home in Manila.

There was a faded beauty about it and you think, "How wonderful this must have looked back then!" Then, by the next breath you think, this is a perfect place for someone enterprising to start something interesting. After all, the art galleries on Chung King Road seem to have found a home here.

Sincere gifts closes up shop for the day.

At night, the plaza gets a second life. The pagodas were outfitted with neon lights and the lanterns all swung gayly at night. A few bars are also open and I think to myself, "This is a good spot. It's a work in progress."

Inside the Mountain Bar on Gin Ling Way. See the view of a five-tiered pagoda in the window?

The plaza at night is like something out of a movie. I wonder what action is going to happen next.
Yes! I'm patting myself on the back because I got that little twinkle on camera.


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