This Day Fresno:
Chinatown Fresno Foundation

About Chinatown Fresno Foundation

When Fresno’s original settlers located along a new railroad line in the 1860s, many of them were Chinese, expert brick makers who began building a city. Soon, however, they were relocated to the west side of the tracks. 

Racially segregated residential enclaves were common in California in the 19th century. Chinatown was established here around 1872. Most of the cultural and ethnic communities in Fresno got their start here.

West of the tracks became a lively, thriving and inclusive area that offered goods, services and entertainment day and night. Outcast immigrants from around the world lived in Chinatown. They were entrepreneurs who ran shops, hotels, theaters, restaurants, and service businesses. They were farmers of figs, grapes, cotton and wheat. From the late 1800s to the mid 1950s, Chinatown was a vibrant live-work play environment.

With urban renewal in the 1960s, Chinatown lost both businesses and residents. Historic buildings were demolished. Buildings became vacant. Vagrants began to congregate. Other attempts for improvement have been haphazard and poorly funded. Chinatown has suffered decades of neglect.

 

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