Tragedy Strikes America's First Suburban Chinatown

Learn more about Monterey Park, a city in the San Gabriel Valley, which was devastated by a mass shooting over the weekend.

2 minute read

January 23, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Clement Lau

On January 21, 2023, a mass shooting occurred in Monterey Park at a dance studio after a Lunar New Year celebration. Ten people were killed and ten others were injured. While Monterey Park is well-known locally as the home of many Asian-American residents and one of the best places to get Chinese food, few outside the Los Angeles area may have heard of this city of about 61,000 residents which is located less than ten miles from downtown Los Angeles.

In this article by Jeong Park and Doug Smith of the L.A. Times, we learn about the unique history and growth of Monterey Park. Here are a few interesting facts about the city:

  • The city was advertised as “Little Taipei” or “The Chinese Beverly Hills” in the 1970s and 1980s by Frederic Hsieh, a local realtor and developer who led the effort to draw immigrants and investors from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  • The city's Asian population grew from 14 percent in 1970 to about 65 percent today. By the 1990 Census, Monterey Park became the first city with an Asian descent majority population in the continental United States.
  • In 1983, Lily Lee Chen became the first Chinese American woman to be elected mayor of a U.S. city.
  • In 1988, the City of Monterey Park passed an ordinance declaring a moratorium on new construction of condominium and apartment units in an attempt to regulate the rapid growth the city experienced as a result of the influx of Asian immigrants. This moratorium was challenged and defeated in 1989.
  • Redevelopment produced several projects in the 2000s, including the massive Atlantic Times Square which opened in 2010 with ground-floor shops and restaurants.  This development , which has 215,000 square feet, is anchored by AMC Theatres and 24 Hour Fitness, in addition to various restaurants and retailers. The project also includes 210 condo units on the third through sixth floors.

It is unfortunate that people around the country are only hearing about Monterey Park as a result of a mass shooting. As this article explains, Monterey Park is a special place and a resilient city, with its residents facing and overcoming numerous challenges throughout its history. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023 in Los Angeles Times

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