black and white historic photo of business district

How Stockton’s Asian Enclaves Fell Victim to ‘Progress’

A Zocalo article authored by researchers from the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin tells of the thriving Asian enclaves of Stockton, California, that were razed in the mid-20th century in the name of “progress” — and efforts today to make amends. The city’s Chinatown, Japantown and Little Manila were once filled with stores, restaurants, religious institutions and communal gathering spaces. But discriminatory laws meant the Asian community had to live in crowded, poorly maintained housing. Stockton leaders deemed the enclaves “undesirable slums” and set out to replace them with mainstream commercial development. The effort was accelerated by California’s Division of Highways, now known as Caltrans, which razed the community to make way for the Crosstown Freeway linking Interstate 5 and Route 99. Caltrans is now proposing a project that would revitalize the enclaves displaced by the freeway. The authors note, “It’s too early to know if such rhetoric will prove to be tokenism or materialize as real restorative justice.”


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