CCRPA is collaborating with the Save Our Chinatown committee and others in the effort to save the Riverside Chinatown site.
Chinese pioneers began settling and establishing businesses in downtown Riverside in the 1880s. In 1885, downtown Chinese businesses were outlawed and a new Chinatown was established outside of the downtown area. This second Chinatown included businesses, at least 450 year-round residents, and 2,500 seasonal residents. Faced with anti-Chinese sentiments and laws, the community declined after the start of the 20th century. The town was virtually abandoned by the 1930s.
In 1968, the Chinatown site was designated Riverside County Historical Landmark #8 and California State Point of Historical Interest RIV-008, and in 1974 it was designated City of Riverside Landmark #19. Regardless, the last of the standing buildings were demolished in 1977. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Limited archaeological excavations were conducted at the site in the mid-1980s, and revealed the presence of buried architectural features and 1000s of artifacts. The bulk of the archaeological deposits at the site remained undisturbed.
Despite the clearly recognized cultural, historical, and archaeological significance of the site, and ignoring protests by preservation advocates, Riverside County sold the site to a private land developer and, in 2008, the Riverside City Council unanimously approved construction of an office building on the site.
Legal and other efforts to save the site continue. For more information, visit the Save Our Chinatown Committee website (http://www.saveourchinatown.org/).