UPDATE ON THE RIVERSIDE CHINATOWN PRESERVATION EFFORT
Riverside is a step closer to having a park that will tell
the story of Chinese contributions to the City while
protecting the significant archaeological site thanks to a
solution found through the efforts of the Save Our
Chinatown Committee (SOCC), developers, and the City. On
December 9, 2014, Riverside’s City Council voted
unanimously to sell land at Olivewood Avenue off the 91
freeway and south of 14th Street in Downtown Riverside to
developers of a medical office building that was
previously planned for Riverside Chinatown. Several
council members, who spoke before the vote, expressed
their support for a signature park at the historic site.
For over six years, we have worked to find a way to
conserve Riverside Chinatown, a historic archaeological
site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to increasing awareness of the site’s
significance, we brought a successful lawsuit to stop
inappropriate development at the site. Earlier this year
it was discovered that developers intended to modify that
project and bring it back to the City Council for review.
In recent months, talks with developers were initiated
with the hope of finding a solution to conserve the site
while finding another location for the needed medical
office building. Talks resulted in identifying an
alternative site for the medical office building project,
located five blocks east of Chinatown at Olivewood Avenue.
The site was partly owned by the City and the Successor
Agency to the City’s Redevelopment Agency. A major hurdle
has been cleared away and a new level of support from
government representatives has emerged. We look forward to
continue working with the City, County, and other public
and private partners to obtain the resources needed to
acquire the historic site from the Riverside County Board
of Education for park development.
A big thank you to all who have supported and contributed
to our efforts throughout the years -- together, we have
come this far!
For Immediate Release:
September 6, 2014
The Save Our Chinatown Committee (SOCC) announces the
George Wong Fellowship, a service-learning opportunity
available to one undergraduate, or graduate student during
the 2014-2015 Academic Year. The Fellowship is named after
George Wong (1900-1974), the last resident and caretaker
of Riverside, California’s Chinatown settlement.
The George Wong Fellow will contribute to a dynamic
community campaign to protect and promote Riverside
Chinatown, a nationally-recognized Chinese American
historic archaeological site currently threatened by
inappropriate development. Under the guidance of
experienced professionals, the George Wong Fellow will
work on a meaningful and challenging assignment (or set of
assignments) in one, or more of the following core areas:
program development, communications, community organizing,
fundraising, and/or research.
The Fellow will earn a $2000 stipend and may be eligible
to receive credit hours from their academic institution.
The Fellow must be available for a total of 200 hours
during a quarter/semester period. A regular schedule of
Fellow’s hours will be established.
Excellent research, writing, and organizational skills.
Enthusiastic and self-motivated work style with high
attention to detail.
Ability to work as a part of a team within a start-up
Reliability and commitment to delivering timely work
Facility with web-based environments and/or learning
Event planning and social media/communications experience
Interest in history, historic preservation, urban
planning, Asian American/ethnic studies, social justice
Chinese language skills are highly desirable, but not
Established in 2008, the Save Our Chinatown Committee (SOCC)
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to
protect and promote Chinese American heritage resources in
Riverside, California through community organizing,
research, and education. For more information go to: saveourchinatown.org
How to apply: Send
a cover letter, resume, and hours of availability to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Must be available for in-person interview in Riverside,
Deadline to apply: September
19, 2014, 5pm PST, or until filled. [DEADLINE
EXTENDED to January 2, 2015]
CSUSB students help to preserve Riverside’s Chinatown
Students enrolled in a history class at Cal State San Bernardino are seeking individuals to interview who have first-hand memories of Riverside’s Chinatown.
In an effort to prevent the destruction of the archaeological site and preserve the historical landmark, the students in an oral history class, taught by CSUSB history professor Cherstin Lyon, are collaborating with Riverside’s “Save Our Chinatown” committee to record residents’ memories of Riverside’s Chinatown.
“This is a perfect way for our students to learn how to record oral history,” said Lyon. “They want to interview those who have knowledge of Chinatown’s past and record it in a way that’s meaningful.
“By telling the residents’ stories, ‘Memories of Chinatown’ is one way to engage the public and raise awareness of the committee’s project,” Lyon said.
The students are especially seeking individuals who have first-hand memories of its last resident, George Wong. Declared as Riverside’s Chinatown by the Riverside County Historical Commission in 1968, Wong was present to unveil the historical landmark.
Miranda Olivas and Moriah Schnose are two of the CSUSB students currently documenting the interviews for this project. Both had previously taken another history course with Lyon, whose passion for oral history inspired them to help with the “Save Our Chinatown” project.
“Partnering with Riverside’s project is a great opportunity to incorporate what we learned last quarter into helping our community,” said Schnose, a junior history major.
Schnose said that preserving the archaeological site is important to the Chinese immigrants who initially settled in Riverside.
“It is an integral part of the historical evidence impacted by U.S. immigration laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882,” she said.
Olivas, a senior history major, said, “I grew up in Riverside and appreciate the city’s unique community, history and the enriching educational opportunities the city promotes.”
“If we can interview people who have wonderful memories of Riverside’s Chinatown, we have more power in saving the historic landmark,” said Olivas.
Despite the Riverside Chinatown designation as a city and state landmark, its standing as a county point of historical interest, and being listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the site remains threatened.
The city of Riverside and the Riverside County Board of Education, which owns the site, have been negotiating plans to allow a private developer to build a medical office building on the site.
After Wong’s death in 1974, the last standing structures of Chinatown were demolished by the city of Riverside. But the basements of the historic structures remain buried, along with rich archaeological treasures.
Sample excavations conducted in 1984-1985 drew national and international attention to Riverside’s Chinatown, revealing thousands of artifacts that contributed significantly to scholars’ understanding of Chinese American communities.
If you are interested in telling your story through a recorded interview, contact professor Cherstin Lyon at (909) 537-3836 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information on the effort to preserve the history of Riverside’s Chinatown, visit the Save Riverside Chinatown Facebook page.
Above text from:
CSUSB students help to preserve Riverside’s Chinatown April
Links to News Items:
2014-2015 George Wong Fellowship Announced September 6, 2014
CSUSB students help to preserve Riverside’s Chinatown April 15,
RIVERSIDE: Chinese ancestors honored at grave ceremony April 13,
RIVERSIDE: 5th Annual Ching Ming at Olivewood Memorial Park
[photo gallery] April 14, 2013 (?)
Ceremony to honor Chinese pioneers April 12, 2013
Women in Preservation: M. Rosalind Sagara and the California
Riverside Chinatown Community March 25th, 2013
Save Our Chinatown Committee in Riverside, Calif.: An
Interview with Judy Lee, University of California, Riverside
Librarian Jan 9, 2013
USC architecture student fights to save Chinatown December 10,
Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2012: Judy Yung In Riverside
Fall 2012 see page 5
Riverside: Cool Historical Items Auctioned to Save Chinatown
January 28, 2013
Asian Pacific Librarians Association Interview January 9, 2013
RIVERSIDE: Traditional Chinese ceremony observed
Press Enterprise April 1,
4th Annual Ching Ming Ceremony Honors Riverside’s Chinese
Pioneers [ Press Release: ] March 28, 2012
RIVERSIDE: Ruling throws out approval of Chinatown building.
March 27, 2012
RIVERSIDE: Chinatown appeal ruling is a reversal Press
Enteprise October 27, 2011
Steps Toward Victory for Campaign to Preserve Riverside’s
historic Chinatown [ Press Release ] October 27, 2011
From Gold Mountain to Orange Farm: How the Chinese Shaped
California's Citrus Industry KCET.org July 13, 2011
Buried History of Riverside's Chinese Immigrants Threatened
by Development KCET.org July 15,2011
The Last Resident KCET.org. August 5, 2011
Activists fight to preserve Riverside's Chinatown site.
Los Angeles Times. 6/26/2011
Riverside’s Historic Chinatown Chosen as Top 100 in National
Challenge: Public online vote to decide winner 5/31/2011
Riverside Chinatown" News and Notes December 2010, Chinese
Historical Society of Southern California. See p. 4.
"When do 'Model Minorities' stand up and fight? The battle for
Riverside's Chinatown continues" by Judy Lee. Riverside JACL
Newsletter December, 2010
A look back: Working to save Chinatown
"Today's Mystery, Tomorrow's History"
News and Notes [Chinese
Historical Society of Southern California Newsletter] June 2010
"Group gathering at cemetery to honor Riverside's Chinese pioneers"
by David Olsen Press Enterprise April 4, 2010
“Throwdown in Chinatown,” by Erin Tobin, Inland Empire Magazine,
"Chinese Americans fight for preservation of historic
Riverside Chinatown site" Xinhua News
September 24, 2009
"Apology to Chinese, though some expect more efforts to follow",
Monday, September 14, 2009
“Sides debate effect of ruling on Chinatown site in Riverside,”
by Alicia Robinson, The Press-Enterprise, Saturday,
September 5, 2009.
Old Riverside Foundation,
message about the struggle to save Chinatown. ORF Newsletter,
“California’s apology for past discrimination: Saying ’sorry’ says
something: The state’s regret for the way past generations treated
Chinese immigrants may help heal hurts that have festered for
decades.” Los Angeles Times Editorial July 25, 2009
“California Apologizes to Chinese Americans”
TIME, July 22, 2009 On July 17, the California legislature approved
a landmark bill to apologize to the state’s Chinese American
community for racist laws enacted as far back as the mid–19th
century. The legislation was co-sponsored by State Assembly members
Paul Fong and Kevin de Leon.
Judge’s tentative Chinatown findings leave both sides with questions
The Riverside Press-Enterprise
Thursday, July 9, 2009
“Riverside Chinatown Rescue Efforts Continue,”
by Margie Akin, Japanese American Citizens League, Riverside,
Newsletter, June 2009. (Reprinted with permission.)
Work at former Chinatown site in Riverside will remain halted, court
rules The Press-Enterprise May 19, 2009
“Artifact of Disposal: The Historic Riverside Chinatown
Archaeological Site is Under Assault,” by Scott L. Fedick,
Chinese American Forum, Vol. XXIV, no. 4, April 2009.
(Reprinted with permission.)
"Fight to Save Riverside's Chinatown is a Pan-Asian Effort"
Pacific Citizen March 29, 2009
Construction delayed on historic Riverside site The
Tale of Two Sinkholes
DAN BERNSTEINThe Riverside Press-Enterprise
- March 13, 2009
Judge Orders Work Halted for Project at Riverside’s Second Chinatown
The Riverside Press-Enterprise - February 25 ,2009
Riverside, CA Judge Issues Temporary
Restraining Order to Developer - Angry Citizens Fight to Save
Riverside, CA Historic Chinatown Site Various dates Asianconnections.com
Reckless Digging: Stop Defiling Riverside’s Historic Chinatown site,
an Opinion Editorial by Dr. Scott Fedick The Riverside
Press-Enterprise - February 24, 2009
Work halts for now at Riverside’s former second Chinatown The
Riverside Press-Enterprise - February 18, 2009
Crews cited over noise at controversial Chinatown site in Riverside The Riverside
Press-Enterprise - February
Breaking Out Of the Beltway
Press-Enterprise - February
Opponents of Chinatown site development seek restraining order The Riverside
Press-Enterprise - February
Chinatown Dig Plan Wins Approval The Riverside
Press-Enterprise - February
Lawsuit targets Riverside council’s OK of building over old
- November 8, 2008
Hidden Heritage: Riverside lot is center of dispute over old
Chinatown, new building The
Riverside Press-Enterprise - October 6, 2008
Links to SOCC press releases:
New Year Celebration part of Local Revival February 6, 2010
Chinese New Year Banquet to Start with a Bang January 26, 2010
from the Los Angeles Lodge of the Chinese American Citizens
Alliance, in support of a Riverside Chinatown Historical Park
Riverside Chinatown Trial Thursday July 6, 2009
TRIAL July 2009
PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION UPHELD May 13, 2009
Injunction Hearing Friday March 19, 2009
Temporary Restraining Order Granted For Riverside’s Historic
Chinatown February 24, 2009
CHING MING FESTIVAL IN RIVERSIDE February 2009
City to Vote on Controversial Discard
Policy for Riverside’s Historic Chinatown Archaeological Site February 5, 2009
Gala Chinese New Year Banquet Sold
Out January 23, 2009
Ticket Deadline for Chinese New
Year Banquet Approaches January 16, 2009
Major Damage Sparks Legal Action February 2009
Lawsuit Filed Against Planned
Building on Riverside Chinatown Site November 6, 2008