In the growth of California over the last 150 years Chinese immigrants have played a significant role. The first arrivals came shortly after the discovery of gold in 1849 to work in the mines. Then they were the labor force of choice in building the California link of the first transcontinental railroad. The section of the railroad over the Sierra Nevada mountains was the most challenging of the whole line.
All this and much more is told at the Chinese American Museum located in downtown Los Angeles. We visited the museum and the exhibits were very much a learning experience.
The exhibits also tell of the long struggle Chinese had to receive civil liberties that other groups received at birth. Actually this struggle only reached conclusion with the 1969 Voting Rights act, part of the civil rights movement of that decade.
Other exhibits tell of the establishment of the first Los Angeles Chinatown, then how it was razed for construction of Union Station. And how the present Chinatown took shape in the 1930s.
The Chinese American Museum is located at 425 North Los Angeles Street. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a most modest entrance fee.
Telephone 213 485-8567, web www.camla.org.