chinatown app header

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 Collaboratory

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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 conducted 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. In spring, Collaboratory students began to work with Ahmanson Lab staff to develop an interactive prototype for an augmented reality app called “Old Chinatown”

The Outcomes 

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"Old Chinatown" is an app prototype was designed as a location-based experience that invites visitors to explore old Chinatown by discovering AR artifacts in Los Angeles’ Union Station, reading historical documents about their origins, and building collections.