Written by Annie Luong
In 1909, many Chinese looked toward building a new wholesale produce market complex adjacent to the intersection of Ninth and San Pedro Street. City Market, as a corporate entity, was formed on the 3rd of April 1909, headed by Edward John Fleming. The City Market tenants were a mixture of ethnicities, but most of the tenants were White, Chinese, or Japanese. Marie Louie remembers, “The LA City Market had quite a few Chinese but also Italians and other people.” Chinese influence in the area peaked in the 1910s when the Chinese began to dominate both the supply and distribution of farm produce. During this period, hundreds of Chinese worked in the produce industry in and around Los Angeles.
The industry gave Chinese Americans the opportunity to develop as wholesalers and brokers. As more families moved into the City Market area, the City Market Chinatown grew. The neighborhood provided housing, restaurants, grocery stores, laundries, barbershops, and medical services. Ben Fong recalls that it, “looked differently in the sense that the restaurants there are doing the market business.” As Old Chinatown was prepared for the construction of Union Station, more Chinese Americans moved into the City Market Chinatown. Fong remembers, “There were quite a few Japanese as well as Chinese. They were the two major groups in there. Then of course … when the war started, the Japanese businesses were all taken over by other people.”