“Chinatown is in the Heart”


Saturday, September 28, 2013

How many people exhibited objects?


How many people came but did not bring objects?



Posted by Pop Up Museum Facilitator Zealand Reynolds

What was it about?

This pop explored the “hidden” history of Santa Cruz Chinese communities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Santa Cruz County was once the home of roughly a dozen Chinatowns and smaller Chinese villages—located from Davenport down to the Pajaro River. Held in the parking lot of Coamerica Bank, the site of a once thriving Santa Cruz Chinatown, the Pop Up Museum followed a Ghost Walk that explored historical sites related to Chinese American populations in Santa Cruz.

How did it go?

Over a hundred people gathered to share stories and view artifacts from the local Chinatowns, filling this pop up with new enthusiasm for subterranean history. The Pop Up Museum featured artifacts found during an excavation for the Galleria at 740 Front Street, the location of one of Santa Cruz County's many Chinatowns. Over the years these historical treasures have been moved and lost track of, but local Historian Geoffrey Dunn was able to locate them and bring them back to Santa Cruz. The artifacts will be given to Stanford's archaeology department to be part of a study on "Underground Chinatowns." The items included small bowls, tiny "opium bottles," and shards beautiful pottery.

Along side the artifacts, Jun Lee, one of the last 3 residents of any Chinatown in Santa Cruz County and former mayor of Scotts Valley, told stories depicting life in Chinatown. Visitors gathered around as he told stories of childhood, discrimination, and ultimately, the destruction of Chinatown.  Lee was visiting form Junior College in 1955 when flooding of the San Lorenzo River destroyed the last Chinatown. George Ow, author of Chinatown Dreams and nephew to Lee, shared his exquisite photographs and stories further depicting life in the often forgotten Chinatowns of Santa Cruz.


Check out more pictures from the pop up on our flickr by clicking here

View our digital exhibit on the Pop Up Museum Pinterest Page