“Untitled, Suburban Chinatown” (© Jessica Chou)

Jessica Chou’s “Suburban Chinatown”

In the 1980s, a wave of Asian newcomers moved into a band of predominantly white bedroom communities in the San Gabriel Valley, a cultural transformation attributed in part to relaxed immigration laws and rising economic mobility. Once moribund business strips sprang to life with Filipino grocers, Vietnamese cafes, and Japanese bakeries. Sociologists declared Monterey Park the first suburban Chinatown in America. Today, the region is home to an Asian-American population of more than half a million people, more than that of 42 states.

Raised in San Gabriel Valley, the photographer Jessica Chou said the community always had a feeling of “same but different,” an idea she explores in her photo series “Suburban Chinatown.” “It’s seeing how the immigrant community has grounded its way into this type of landscape,” she told China Underground. “So it’s seeing assimilation as a two-way street.” See a selection of Chou’s photos:  It’s Nice That | JessicaChouPhotography.com

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