Sunday, September 8, 2019

PSA: Frenchtown DID NOT Become Chinatown

For those of you who weren't on the bus yesterday, I took the opportunity to put a persistent rumor to rest. (Regular readers already know that one person in particular has ignored two separate requests to stop perpetuating this myth.)

Frenchtown DID NOT become Chinatown. 

Before I launched this blog, I began mapping places associated with LA's French community for my own reference. I have been working on this map for SIX YEARS and counting. To date, I've mapped almost 500 sites.

This is a portion of my French Los Angeles map. (And I do mean "portion" - the full map is HUGE.) 

As you can see, Frenchtown DID NOT Become Chinatown.

See that odd-shaped shaded area on the lower right, bordering the river?

That shaded area represents Frenchtown's original boundaries.

By 1870, after a full decade of French and Quebecois newcomers to Los Angeles outnumbering immigrants from every other country on Earth (yes, really), the community had grown. The red balloons speak for themselves, but in case someone can't see the detail, the community was centered on the intersection of Alameda and Aliso Streets.

Chinatown is ONE MILE AWAY from Alameda and Aliso. 

(The center of Chinatown, that is, BUT Chinatown's southernmost boundaries are still about half a mile away, and the Plaza separates the two neighborhoods.)

Do me (and thousands of dearly departed French Angelenos) a favor and send this entry to anyone who might need to see it.

*mic drop*

*It's true that the former French Hospital is in Chinatown, and that Joseph Mascarel (whose first wife was Native American, Mexican, or possibly both) lived there for some time, but Chinatown was called Sonoratown until 1938. Area residents were overwhelmingly Mexican (with some Italians) during the French Colony's heyday. Chinatown was not, and has never been, a French neighborhood.


  1. Have you ever posted the full French Los Angeles map here, or is it impossible because of its size?

    1. The map is monster-sized. But more than that...I’m not ready to reveal the whole thing. I’m STILL digging up people and places, and some locations are approximate (intersection or block) because LA wasn’t numbering buildings yet.