Family And Community Life In Chinatown, 1930s-1980s

Community life in Chinatown grew as more and more families settled in Chinatown after World War II. Churches, businesses, and social and cultural organizations were established to improve neighborhood life, preserve Chinese culture, and provide services to growing numbers of families and immigrants.

A number of churches were founded in Chinatown during and after the war, such as the Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church and School (1941), Chinese Christian Church and Center (1941), and Chinese Gospel Church (1952). These churches not only provided religious services but also schools, recreational facilities, and community centers. Often organized as missionary churches, they worked to Americanize recent Chinese immigrants, mediating between and merging Chinese and American cultures. At church and school, a new generation of Chinese Americans found themselves playing basketball as well as practicing Chinese calligraphy, and celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as Chinese New Year.

As the community grew, new Chinese-identified community organizations were also founded. Previously, most resident bachelors had congregated in mutual assistance societies along family, regional, or occupational lines. The Chinese Benevolent Association, Chung Hua Kung So, was created in 1951 to bridge differences between these various associations. It worked to mediate disputes, provide housing and other services to immigrants, and preserve traditional Chinese culture. In 1955 six young men gathered to form a YMCA at a time when there were few public gathering spaces for socializing and recreation. The organization flourished as the Chinese Cultural and Community Center, offering classes in Chinese cooking and English and Chinese languages, organizing a Chinese New Year Parade, and sponsoring a "Dragon Club" for youth. Over time the CCCC promoted traditional culture and public recreation for residents and worked to attract non-Chinese visitors to Chinatown and Chinese culture.

Previous page | Next Page