Chinese History in San Luis Obispo, California

In this present day, there is no sense of heritage that can commemorate the contributions of the Chinese pioneers in SLO. The Chinatown, which occupied Palm St., lasted till 1950, which was diminished in order to accommodate for the parking structure. After the existing Chinatown was torn down, and through the urging of some community members of SLO, an archeological dig was conducted in which many Chinese artifacts were found. And the once Chinese cemetery is now the path of South Higuera St. The only known Chinese Historical landmark in California present in this county is the Ah Louis Store, which was not torn down for the construction of the parking structure because of that reason.

With the establishment of a Chinese garden in SLO, the Chinese community would finally be a part of the city they once helped to build and to flourish. This Chinese garden will be the only one of its kind that exists within California. Because of its distinct quality, it will attract more tourists to this region which will provide additional revenue to the county of SLO. This classical Chinese garden will not only symbolize the commemoration of the Chinese pioneers, but will also enrich the diversity of the local culture as well as to provide an intimate space for all to enjoy.

Through out the long history of California, people have been drawn toward this state for many reasons. But perhaps the most noted event of all was the gold rush.

The first group of people who caught the gold rush fever came from the East Coast during the 1830's to the 40's. Because of the shortage of laborers, foreign workers were brought over to the central coast of California. Among these foreign workers were the Chinese. By 1852, more than 25,000 Chinese were present in California, which means that one out of ten Californians was Chinese. By the time the construction of the railroads was in progress, the Chinese were the main working force. Because of the joining of the two railroads at this county, San Luis Obispo by 1870 had obtained the biggest settlement of Chinese community in California.

In 1872, the San Luis Obispo Tribune designated Palm Street as.Chinatown. In San Luis Obispo perhaps one of the well known chinese pioneers is Al Luis. Originally named Wong On, Al Luis played an active role in the history of San Luis Obispo. Among his more known contributions to the town on San Luis Obispo were the Brick yard, the Seed farm industry, the construction of several sea ports on the Central Coast, and the biggest of all contributions was the construction of the roadway opening SLO to the cities up north and down south. While the Chinese were here in SLO, they brought many traditions to SLO among which is the more celebrated Chinese New Year. However, one other important tradition which SLO have not yet experienced is that of the Chinese garden.