Don't forget it, Jake: Fresno's Chinatown at a crossroads

High-speed rail progress makes longstanding public and private malaise about Chinatown troubling.

Two Perspectives on Chinatown

Chinatown obviously is worth preserving and revitalizing because of its role in Fresno history.


“Somebody asked why I do the tours and why I’m so involved (in Chinatown),” Omachi said. “Part of that is my family’s history. My dad was born here. My grandfather had a business for a while, a pool hall, in China Alley. Being a kid, listening to his stories, I would let it go in one ear and out the other. So I know that I cut myself off from some of my own family history.

“If we don’t have an idea of who we were, then we’re anchorless. We’re just kind of floating out on a sea of the general population. But when we do the tours, we see people from a wide range of areas making connections. And I tell them it’s important for them to talk to the senior members of their families – their uncles, their aunts, their grandparents – because their stories are what made you. You must know who you are, where you came from and to honor the community. Chinatown is an example of what I’m talking about.”

But Omachi would be the first to acknowledge that what today’s Chinatown needs most is not noble sentiment but dollars-and-cents commitment from the public and private sectors.

“Chinatown is probably one of the key pieces of real estate in the entire city of Fresno,” Council Member Baines said. “It connects Downtown Fresno and Southwest Fresno. We need to be paying more attention to Chinatown. I have no doubt that attention is going to start to occur. But to date, yes, Chinatown business owners and residents who live in Chinatown have a lot to be unhappy about.”

I take that to mean: Wait.

Photo: Sara Jane Boyers

  1. And where will all of our ‘homeless’ people be along with the rest of the broken window issues? How will these issues be kept out of sight?

  2. The proposed solution to Chinatown about 30 years ago was to condemn it, level it and peddle the vacant land to Ed Kashian to redevelop as a modern commercial area. This idea surfaced after Highway City fought a similar proposal off. The Chinatown folks battled to keep Kashian out. Over the years since, Chinatown has been slowly dying. Quite a few of the older buildings have burned down and the homeless have gradually taken the area over.

  3. I love the free parking in China Town and often go there for a good meal though was saddened when Paris Cafe literally gave up the ghost. I also miss Come & Get It Chicken & Waffles. Give people a reason to go somewhere, and they will go. Wish the city would help small businesses get a foothold in China Town.

  4. I driven through Chinatown yesterday and COULDN’T BELIEVE how decimated and barron it looked. The homeless people took it over smh. I remember going there as a kid. Fish mamasan giving me a toy every time I went into Central Fish. Its very very sad to see the current condition of Chinatown. I’m not really sure if HSR will help it. It will create basically a wall to divide DTF and chinatown.

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