Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: OLD CHINATOWN, LA, 1964


Tourists bask in the glorious glow of yellow, pink and aqua neon as they stroll the spectacular central plaza of Old Chinatown. The highly stylized, 1938-vintage themed environment of extreme exotica is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Los Angelesland and an Americana landmark of the highest order. A better virtual sweet-and-sour-pupu-platter of authentic 1930s Chinese modern architecture you will not find anywhere. The legendary Chinese Theater in Hollywood is its closest cousin. Sometimes I like to imagine them living next door to each other.

I can’t think of a more colorful place than Old Chinatown. Can you? The paint scheme is straight out of a comic book. And if you love neon like I do it’s a treasure trove. This weekend a great place is about to get even greater. After decades of not being there anymore the neon highlighting those spellbinding pagoda rooflines has been replaced. Miracles do happen! I weep! The relighting ceremony is part of Chinatown’s 70th anniversary party, Saturday evening June 28, 2008. The neon light switch will be flipped on at 8:30.

If you love timeless Chinese modern style like I do, I seriously recommend while experiencing Old Chinatown that you see two of the best vintage Chinese restaurant interiors in country. The upstairs dining room at Hop Louie (formerly the Golden Pagoda) is still serving sweet and sour pork, while Realm, a gift shop housed in the long-gone Hong Kong Low Restaurant, serves up the most spectacular retail space in the city! Oh, and speaking of Chinese modern time-warps, the old lawyers office upstairs in the Hong Building (seen here on the left,) was recently revealed after decades of being moth balled. Don’t miss that either. Ask to do so inside of Realm and make sure to tell them I sent you!

Here’s to Chinatown, Chinese modern, those that restored the neon and YOU!

Visit Charles’ site or join his Slide of the Week Mailing List.

Upcoming Slide Show performance…


Curtis Theater in Brea, CA
Sat, Aug 23 at 8PM &
Sun, Aug 24 at 2PM

A live, comedy slide show performance celebrating Disneyland, Knott’s, Marineland, Hollywood and all the other kitschy, classic attractions as they were in the fabulous 50s and 60s!

Tickets online here