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The First Suburban Chinatown: The Remarking of Monterey Park, California

Timothy Fong

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

I first heard of Monterey Park on August 1, 1986. At that time I was producing a series of five half-hour radio documentaries for California Tomorrow, a statewide, nonprofit organization that researches and draws public attention to the state's future as a multiracial society. I had just completed interviews for my third documentary when a feature article on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle ...

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Introduction: A New and Dynamic Community

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pp. 3-14

On an early morning walk to Barnes Memorial Park, one can see dozens of elderly Chinese performing their daily movement exercises under the guidance of an experienced leader. Other seniors stroll around the perimeter of the park; still others sit on benches watching the activity around them or reading a Chinese language newspaper. By now children are making...

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1. Ramona Acres to the Chinese Beverly Hills: Demographic Change

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pp. 15-34

Monterey Park became a city shortly before the First World War and undertook plans for development that would transform the small farming community into an elite suburb. To lay the foundation for this study of Chinese immigration, I have divided the city's demographic history into three periods: its incorporation and push to develop, during which racial segregation policies were common and condoned; its growth from the end of the Second ...

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2. Enter the Dragon: Economic Change

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pp. 35-54

Before the influx of Chinese immigrants, Monterey Park was a quiet, comfortable, and spacious bedroom community of tree lined streets and modest single-family homes with expansive yards. It was seen as a safe and ideal integrated community in which to raise a family.

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3. "I Don't Feel at Home Anymore": Social and Cultural Change

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pp. 55-72

From the 1940s through the 1960s, Monterey Park was a community whose activities revolved around active service clubs, friendly churches, and a collegial chamber of commerce. Two hotly competing weekly newspapers (the Progress and the Californian) together thoroughly informed residents about what was going on in town. Since the early 1970s, however, the city's social and cultural landscape has been reshaped. This chapter describes the changing...

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4. Community Fragmentation and the Slow-Growth Movement

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pp. 73-95

By the 1970s the population of Monterey Park was increasing so rapidly that its traditional tight-knit economic, social, cultural, and political structure could no longer be maintained. The dilution of the core community actually started several years before the influx of Chinese immigrants reached its peak. For many years...

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5. Controlled Growth and the Official-Englsih Movement

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pp. 96-117

In May 1982 a Monterey Park Progress editorial headed "A Different City Council" pointed out that for the first time, four of the council's five members (Manibog, Chen, Almada, and Peralta) came from ethnic minorities. Also, for the first time, moreover, there were two Hispanics serving together (Almada and Peralta), a Chinese...

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6. "City with a Heart"?

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pp. 118-137

The movement for English as the official language was not unique to Monterey Park. As early as 1980, voters in Miami, Florida, a city where large numbers of Spanish-speaking Cubans have settled, overwhelmingly approved a law (since reversed) restricting the use of Spanish and Creole. In November 1984, voters in California passed by a 71 to 29 percent margin...

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7. The Politics of Realignment

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pp. 138-156

The resolution of the recall effort in Monterey Park by no means ended the city's contentiousness. The 1988 city council election brought to the fore another Chinese American woman candidate whose campaign themes of racial harmony and controlled growth received a warm reception, but the old divisions were still apparent, and new ones developed. One was the...

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8. Theoretical Perspectives on Monterey Park

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pp. 157-172

Immigrant adaptation to life in the United States began receiving scholarly attention early in the twentieth century, in response to the arrival of European newcomers in large numbers. The preeminent theory has been Robert Park's (1950) "race relations" cycle, which posits that immigrants initially clash with natives over...

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Conclusion: From Marginal to Mainstream

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pp. 173-178

The concentration of large numbers of people of color in urban centers across the country and their impact on the broader U.S. society will continue to be a pressing issue into the twenty-first century. Monterey Park illustrates the social, cultural, and economic intersection of these demographic changes with questions of urban growth and development. Though it has...


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pp. 179-202

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pp. 203-210


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pp. 211-219

E-ISBN-13: 9781439904633

Publication Year: 2010