Time for my weekly Artist Date. I took a little detour from the “main” drag of Chinatown to check out Chung King Road. This is my story.

The Facts

Chung King Road is a pedestrian street in the northeast corner of Chinatown, Los Angeles. This street is a part of “New Chinatown,” built in the 1930s and 1940s, It’s the location of Chinese specialty shops and art importers. In the late 1990s many of the storefronts were sitting unused, and several of them were converted into art galleries. As part of an overall gentrification of the area, Chung King Road is now one of the centers of art and nightlife in Downtown Los Angeles.

During the day, the little alley of Chung King Road, Los Angeles — only some 40 feet wide — is bare and quiet.

The occasional lone straggler might make his way through the alley, a shortcut to get to Chinatown’s main attractions. But on art opening Saturday nights (every few weeks), throngs of LA art enthusiasts come to check out the latest in a new wave of galleries settling into Chung King Road’s less-than-shiny streetscape.

Hollywood History

I agree with what I read: It’s a strange and somewhat romantic scene, with the alley’s lanterns and worn-out gallery facades, as if pulled from some derelict 1950s movie set.

I totally think Gizmo was bought in one of these shops too, just sayin.

Yet, it’s a scene that has become a new center for art in Los Angeles. Some describe it as a displaced Westside arts district — hip, edgy and young. And while the art is breaking boundaries, the galleries are still paying tribute to the culture of Chinatown; many have kept the original storefront names. Check out some of the galleries anchoring the growing art scene in Chinatown.

The best part may just be Foo Chow. This restaurant is not only known for great food, but also where scenes from the movie Rush Hour were shot.

Do you have any interesting film locations in your town?

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