"Forget It, Jake. It's Chinatown." This infamous line from Roman Polanski's neo-noir masterpiece is just one of the contributing factors to the mystique of this particular neighborhood of Los Angeles. Want to know what it's really like today? Let me give you a tour!
Perfectly positioned at the foot of rolling hills just North of Downtown LA, the Chinatown of my hometown is one of the most astounding places in the city. Once you see behind the tourist curtain, this enigmatic neighborhood doesn’t cease to amaze. Though the original Chinatown in LA was destroyed to make way for Union Station, this “new” Chinatown is still pretty darn cool.
There’s a lot see and do in Chinatown. Simply entering through the iconic gate, adorned with Dragons that actually smoke is a sight to behold! (Don’t worry, it’s water vapor, but it looks REALLY cool!) Along Broadway and Hill, you’ll find lots of little shops with the ubiquitous souvenirs found any city’s Chinatown.
You’ll also find some fresh produce stands that sell delicious Asian treats like lychee and pitaya. (Sorry, no photos of those, because I always eat them before I get a chance to take out my camera!) The butcher shop also makes the main thoroughfares feel much more community driven and not just fraught with tourists! Of course, you’ll also probably find yourself in the New Chinatown Plaza. Though it definitely caters to tourists, taking a short stroll in there definitely feels like a walk in a by-gone era.
Chinatown also has it’s own train stop off the Metro Gold Line, which makes it really convenient if you’re coming from East LA, Pasadena, or connecting from one of the other train lines at Union Station. For me, getting off on this stop is great! The train lets one off on the elevated platform and this vantage point offers astounding views of the LA cityscape!
If you take the Metro Gold Line to Chinatown, you can walk two blocks north on Alameda St. to the Los Angeles State Historic Park. It’s a grand space where you can enjoy a nice jog or even a meditation session. YES it’s that big! It also hosts various music festivals! Can you imagine a better location for a huge music festival?!
And for you night owls, Chinatown also has a very fun night-life scene! One of my favorite places is Hop Louie. The restaurant is on the second level. The first floor serves as a space where they have movie screenings and other events. At night, the first floor also becomes a fabulous bar! The vibe is relaxed and people are just there to have a good time.
Some may say that Los Angeles’ Chinatown is nothing more than a Hollywood production. I wholeheartedly disagree. The Chinatown in LA still holds its mysteries. How about the hidden Urban Garden I stumbled upon one day? It’s a community garden/art space that is simply captivating!
No matter where you are, a little exploring is sure to take you to unexpected places! I hope you’re now more eager to visit my Chinatown! There really is something here for everyone!