On Friday, August 28, a sign honoring Walla Walla’s final Chinatown will be dedicated at the City Hall block in downtown Walla Walla. The dedication will begin at 2 pm with a talk in the City Council Chambers on the top floor of City Hall at 3rd & Rose, followed by a ribbon-cutting for the sign located on the northwest corner of the City Hall parking lot at 4th & Rose. The event, sponsored by Walla Walla 2020, will include comments by Walla Walla resident Galen Tom whose grandfather at one point owned the principal Chinese building located at 5th and Rose, and who with his mother Barbara owns the last remaining Chinese truck garden in Walla Walla.
The first Chinese came to Walla Walla and the Pacific Northwest as part of the Idaho gold rush of the 1860’s. As their population grew steadily from the mid-1860’s until its peak in the 1880’s, the Chinese in Walla Walla tended to migrate to a centralized neighborhood which at first was centered around the Oriental Hotel built in 1867, and included the area along Alder and adjoining streets from approximately Colville to Third. Most of the Chinese population eventually moved to locations along Rose Street and the adjoining blocks between Second and Sixth. There in 1911, prominent members of the Chinese community built the Pacific Enterprise Building at the corner of Fifth & Rose, reportedly housing ninety percent of the Chinese population of Walla Walla in the early part of the 20th century.
For more information on Walla Walla’s Chinatowns and other historic places in the Walla Walla area, visit www.ww2020.net/historic-sites.