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Chinatown Los Angeles

Downtown L A Tour

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Our opinion of this sightseeing standby may surprise you.

Chinatown Gate, Los Angeles

©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
As early as 1852, a Chinese settlement was recorded not far from here. After the community moved to its current location, the Central Plaza was dedicated in 1938. A number of Chinese-themed buildings were built, and Chinatown Los Angeles became a popular tourist attraction.

Movies filmed in Chinatown Los Angeles include Rush Hour, Lethal Weapon 4 and of course, Roman Polanski's 1974 classic Chinatown.

How to Get Here:

Set your GPS or maps app to 943 N Broadway
  • From Our Lady of the Angels: In front of the cathedral entry plaza on Temple Street, turn left. Walk about 1.5 blocks to N. Broadway. Turn left and walk 3 blocks to Alpine Street (where you can side trip to the temple mentioned below) or continue another 1.5 blocks on Broadway to the Old Chinatown Plaza.
  • From Phillippe the Original: Facing Alameda Street in front of the restaurant, turn left. Walk about 2 blocks north to Alpine Street and turn left. Side trip on Alpine to the temple as described below or turn right onto Broadway and continue another 1.5 blocks on Broadway to the Old Chinatown Plaza.
  • If you want to go directly to Chinatown from other parts of the city, you can take the Metro to the Chinatown station. If you're driving, see the GPS notes above.

Visiting Chinatown Los Angeles

These sights are listed in order if you are walking north on Broadway from the cathedral.

  • Chinatown Gate: This modern dragon gate spans Broadway at Cesar Chavez, welcoming you to Chinatown

  • Thien Hau Temple: It's a two-block detour to visit a beautiful, authentic-feeling Taoist temple. Turn left (northwest) on Alpine and walk 2 blocks to Yale Street. The temple is on the left at 750 Yale Street. It's dedicated to the goddess of the sea and patron saint of sailors and fishermen. It smells of incense and is filled with red and gold, the walls lined with personal Buddha statues placed there by individuals. Respectful visitors are welcome and photographs are allowed. If you like it, make a small donation to help with its upkeep.

  • Old Chinatown: So many movies have been filmed in this little piece of Los Angeles that it feels almost like you're on a movie set when you walk into the plaza. Created in the late 1930s, it is flanked by gates at Broadway and Hill Streets emblazoned with the word "Chinatown." The architecture is charming and you'll find a few shops and restaurants. If you're a fan of his kung fu movies, you'll find a 7-foot-tall statue of Bruce Lee - which just like Lee himself is larger than life.

You can learn more about the history of the Chinese in city and about Chinatown Los Angeles at the Chinese-American Museum in the nearby El Pueblo historic district.

If you've been to the vibrant Chinatowns of San Francisco, Vancouver or New York City, you may find Chinatown Los Angeles boring in comparison. If you do decide to go, this tour will take you to its most interesting sights.

Chinatown Los Angeles is roughly bounded by Alameda Avenue, Yale Street, Bernard Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue. You'll find the Chinatown Los Angeles dragon gate at N. Broadway and Cesar Chavez. Central Plaza, with its neon sign, which has become iconic for Chinatown Los Angeles is on N. Broadway near Bernard.

Find out more at the Chinatown Los Angeles Website or take one of their monthly Undiscovered Chinatown walking tours.

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See Los Angeles' Chinatown
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