SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA — A colorful concrete gateway at an entryway to San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz honors the final Chinatown in the city and the legions of ethnic Chinese who helped pave the way when the city was in its nascent stages in the early days of the old west.
The final Chinatown in Santa Cruz once thrived in what is now San Lorenzo Park. The gateway – dubbed the Dragon Archway – will also feature poems in Chinese characters in stainless steel plaques powder coated in red in addition to brass plaques that will read in Chinese script: Chinatown Santa Cruz. The lettering will be lit by solar-powered Chinese-style lanterns.
Historically, the City of Santa Cruz was home to four distinct Chinatowns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all of which were located on the periphery of the city’s downtown economic center. Mainly bachelor communities, many of the men worked as servants for upper-middle class families residing in the city’s stately Victorian homes.
Others worked in laundries and in vegetable gardens scattered around the city; still, others developed the region’s commercial fishing and agricultural industries; while a handful operated small businesses and retail stores, importing mercantile items from China. The gateway arch is the second tribute in the city to this ethnic group; a vibrant memorial Chinese gate is located in the historic Evergreen Cemetery, which is overseen by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.