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Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

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Down by the Station: Los Angeles Chinatown 1880-1933


In 1933, the demolition of the thriving Los Angeles Chinatown for the construction of Union Station sealed the remains of this intact community 14 feet below the railroad tracks. The planning and construction of the Metro Rail subway system five decades later included efforts to preserve and protect cultural resources in the area, detailed in this volume. The assemblage of excavated material objects reflects the import, preparation, and service of food; recreation; health practices; the presence of women and children, rubbish disposal practices; and degree of participation in local social networks. The unprecedented numbers and densities of artifacts illuminate aspects of lifeways not previously recorded, revealing a rich picture of people and life in nineteenth and early twentieth century Los Angeles. Intensive historical research, oral history, and laboratory analyses have been synthesized into a comprehensive reconstruction of a community that was isolated socially, economically, and geographically.

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