Many Chinese settled in this once-rural area during the second half of the 19th century. Today, most Angelenos of Chinese descent are well integrated into the city's suburbs; few can be found living in this rough pocket of Downtown. But though the neighborhood hardly compares in quality or size to the Chinese quarters of London, San Francisco, or New York, Chinatown's bustling little mom-and-pop shops and profusion of ethnic restaurants provide an interesting Downtown diversion.
Chinatown centers on a mall, Mandarin Plaza, 970 N. Broadway, reconstructed in 1938 a few blocks from its original site just south of Dodger Stadium. Go on a Sunday morning for dim sum at Empress Pavilion, 988 N. Hill St. (tel. 213/617-9898), and then browse through the collection of shops jammed with Chinese slippers, cheap jewelry, and china. You'll also find some upscale stores specializing in inlaid furniture, Asian art, fine silks, and other imports.
Chinatown is especially worth going out of your way for during Chinese New Year, a month-long celebration that usually begins in late January. The neighborhood explodes into a colorful fantasy of sights and sounds with the Golden Dragon Parade, a beauty pageant, and a 5K/10K run. There are plenty of firecrackers and all the Lin Go New Year's cakes you can eat. For more information about Chinatown, log on to www.chinatownla.com.
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