Banner image for Chinatown Collaboratory

The Chinatown History Project

Project Details

Project Year: 2021-2022

Project Type: Collaboratory


William Deverell, Professor of History, Spatial Sciences, and Environmental Studies
Scott Fisher, Professor, Media Arts + Practice and Director, USC Mobile & Environmental Media Lab

Innovation Scholars

Bo Kim, Asian American Studies & Media Arts + Practice
Jessica Zhang , Geodesign & Computer Science
Sherry Gao, Compuer Science & East Asian Languages and Culture
Katie Chan, Media Arts + Practice

The Chinatown History Project (CHP) is a multi-faceted research and outreach endeavor to uncover the people and places of Los Angeles’ “first Chinatown” prior to its demolition in the late 1930s. The CHP will be working throughout 2021-2022 with potential partners, including the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Metro, to design and build digital projects that commemorate Old Chinatown for the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Chinese massacre.
Through the first term, Collaboratory students will assist with the historical research regarding the establishment of Los Angeles Chinatown, the people and businesses that arose there from the mid-19th century forward, and the topography and urban layout of this polyglot community. As the term deepens, Collaboratory students will begin to work with Ahmanson Lab staff as well as students in Cinema to strategize a digital project that best visualizes what was lost of “old Chinatown.”
Through the Spring term, Collaboratory students will help design a digital project and explore installation opportunities with CHP partners. This digital project may take the form of an AR or VR experience, or an interactive 3-D model of “first Chinatown.”