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California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

The College of Environmental Design (ENV) at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA

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150 years later: ENV connections to 1871 memorial project

By Archinect
Oct 21, '21 6:17 PM EST

The City of Los Angeles is expected to move forward with at least one permanent memorial to commemorate a forgotten chapter in Los Angeles history: the Chinese Massacre of 1871.

The memorial was a key recommendation from the city's Civic Memory Working Group report. A steering committee convened in June 2021 will present their final report to city leaders ahead of the 150th anniversary on Sunday.

On Oct. 24, 1871, a mob of 500 rioters besieged what was then Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles after a white bystander was killed and one policeman wounded in the crossfire of a fight between two Huiguan (mutual benefit associations). Nineteen Chinese died from beatings, stabbings, gunshot wounds and lynchings.

ENV Dean Emeritus Michael Woo (pictured right, in blue face mask), co-chair of the site selection committee, said officials have allocated $250,000 to the project to cover the costs of a design competition. Instead of a conventional statue on a pedestal, the steering committee will likely recommend one primary and several secondary memorials that reflect the "historical multi-site reality" of the violence — the initial gunfight on the Calle de los Negros, lynchings at two locations near today's Los Angeles Mall across the Federal Building and on Temple Street near the Hall of Justice, the vineyard on the town outskirts where the Justice of the Peace offered sanctuary to some Chinese fleeing the mob, and a few additional sites where Union Station stands today.

Woo isn't the only ENV connection to the 1871 memorial project. Architecture alumnus Raymond Cheng ('74) and Senior Director of Development Jenkins Shannon are members of the steering committee. Professor Hofu Wu introduced Woo to Helena Jubany, managing principal of the Los Angeles office of NAC Architecture, whose firm agreed to serve as the pro-bono advisor to the memorial project. Through Walt Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis ('80, architecture), a retired Imagineer has contributed ideas about the use of augmented reality to enhance the memorial project's story-telling aspect.

Learn about the Chinese Massacre of 1871 in the eight-day virtual program hosted by the Chinese American Museum. Woo is participating in two events: the streaming premiere of the documentary "Buried History" on Thursday, Oct. 21; and as a panelist in "Shaping a Memorial: Civic Memory and the Effort to Honor the Victims of the Chinese Massacre of 1871" on Friday, Oct. 22.