||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (January 2012)|
Little Saigon is a name given to any of several overseas Vietnamese immigrant and descendant communities outside Vietnam, usually in the English-speaking nations of the United States, Canada, or Australia. Saigon is the former name of the capital of the former South Vietnam, where a large number of first-generation Vietnamese immigrants originate.
The most well-established and largest Vietnamese-American enclaves, not all of which are called Little Saigon, are located in Orange County, California; San Jose, California; and Houston, Texas. Somewhat smaller communities also exist, including the comparatively nascent Vietnamese commercial districts in San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Sacramento, Denver, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (Haltom City, Arlington, and Garland), Falls Church, Virginia and Orlando. Additionally, Vietnamese-Americans of Chinese lineage have also established businesses and bringing distinctively Vietnamese elements to most Chinatowns, essentially blurring the line between a "Chinatown" and a "Little Saigon"; some examples would include the Chinatowns of Las Vegas, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Bellaire in Houston, Honolulu or Edmonton, Alberta.
There has been relatively little direct immigration to the United States from the northern portions of Vietnam, although nearly one million North Vietnamese had already immigrated to the South during the partitioning of the country in 1954 and many of these subsequently immigrated to the U.S. from the South. This lack of immigration is partly due to the fact that the United States had refused to admit refugees from northern Vietnam. (In the mid-1990s, relations between the U.S. and Vietnam improved under President Bill Clinton, although many old-guard Vietnamese anti-Communists—many of them veterans of the ARVN in the Vietnam War—in several Little Saigon communities still strongly oppose formal U.S. diplomatic relations with the Communist government of Vietnam.). Today, comparatively newer Vietnamese immigrant arrivals hail from diverse regions from throughout Vietnam.
After the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees began settling in refugee camps of Camp Pendleton, California, of Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. They were intentionally spread out of fear by the U.S. resettlement program that the new Vietnamese arrivals would cluster in "ghettos".
The oldest, largest, and most prominent Little Saigon is centered in Orange County, California, where over 189,000 Vietnamese Americans reside. With the other five counties (listed below) that make up the bulk of the Southern California mega-region, this region constitutes the largest Vietnamese American (VA) population outside of Vietnam.
- 2011 US Census Bureau, American Community Survey
The community originally started emerging in Westminster, and quickly spread to the adjacent city of Garden Grove. Today, these two cities rank as the highest concentration of Vietnamese-Americans of any cities in the United States at 37.1% and 31.1%, respectively (according to the 2011 American Community Survey). Despite its original roots along the bustling Bolsa and Brookhurst corridors, the borders of Orange County’s Greater Little Saigon community has grown to nearby cities. The chart below shows the Vietnamese American (VA) population of central Orange County cities that either borders, or is one jurisdiction away from Westminster, CA:
- 2011 US Census Bureau, American Community Survey
About 45 miles (72 km) south of Los Angeles, Westminster was once a predominantly White middle-class suburban city of Orange County with ample farmland, but the city later experienced a decline by the 1970s. Since 1978, the nucleus of Little Saigon has long been Bolsa Avenue, where early pioneers Danh Quach and Frank Jao established businesses. During that year, the well-known Nguoi Viet Daily News also began publishing from a home in Garden Grove. Other new Vietnamese-American arrivals soon revitalized the area by opening their own businesses in old, formerly white-owned storefronts, and investors constructed large shopping centers containing a mix of businesses. The Vietnamese community and businesses later spread into adjacent Garden Grove, Stanton, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, and Santa Ana.
Bolsa Avenue in Westminster's eastern neighbor, Santa Ana, has also been designated a Little Saigon, but there are fewer businesses in the area than in either Westminster or Garden Grove. In 2003, some controversies emerged in Santa Ana over a proposed Little Saigon sign to promote its burgeoning Vietnamese commercial area with a design incorporating Vietnamese translation and a South Vietnamese flag. The sign was approved, but redesigned and placed on Euclid Street and First Street.
Layout and services
In Orange County, Little Saigon is now a wide, spread-out community dotted with a myriad of suburban-style strip malls containing a mixture of Vietnamese and Chinese Vietnamese businesses. It is located southwest of Disneyland between the State Route 22 and Interstate 405. However, the main focus of Little Saigon is the Bolsa Avenue center (where Asian Garden Mall and Little Saigon Plaza are considered the heart), which runs through Westminster and the street has been officially designated Little Saigon by the city council of Westminster in the late 1980s. The borders of Little Saigon can be considered to be Trask and McFadden on the north and south and Euclid and Magnolia on the east and west, respectively. About three-quarters of the population in this area are Vietnamese.
It is lined with numerous huge shopping centers and strip malls. As with many other Vietnamese American communities, competing mom-and-pop restaurants that serve Vietnamese cuisine, especially phở, are abundant. There are approximately 200 restaurants in the area of Little Saigon and spilling over to Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. In addition, there are quite a number of Vietnamese supermarkets, small Vietnamese delis and bakeries in Little Saigon specializing in French-style coffee and baguette sandwiches - indeed, a legacy of Vietnam's turbulent colonial past. Restaurants serving Chinese cuisine such as Teochew and Cantonese are also available but in smaller numbers. Adding to growth of Vietnamese markets in the area, the rapidly expanding Vietnamese supermarket superstore chain Shun Fat Supermarket (called in Vietnamese, Siêu thị Thuận Phát) opened its doors in Westminster in 2005. Catering to the large Vietnamese population in the area are also professional offices of doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc. who speak Vietnamese. Food and authentic Vietnamese cuisine remains the forefront of attractions amongst non-Vietnamese visiting Little Saigon. The community's history of food and cuisine is captured in a recent cookbook by Ann Le, "The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California's Little Saigon."
In 1984, the major Chinese American supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market (initially called 99 Price Market) had its first start in Little Saigon of California. However, unable to compete with many of the Vietnamese markets in the area, the flagship store has since closed and been replaced by another supermarket.
The two-story enclosed Asian Garden Mall was developed by the well-known and influential Little Saigon founder and developer Frank Jao (an ethnic Chinese born in Haiphong, Vietnam) and bankrolled by Chinese Indonesian and Taiwanese investors. Asian Garden Mall was opened in 1987. Owing to its fame, it tends to have the highest costs of rent in Little Saigon. Jao also developed another heavily frequented Vietnamese shopping center across the street, called Asian Village Center, and this center once contained a long court of Confucius statues as motifs, but frequently vacant storefronts in the rear of the plaza were cleared to make way for housing developments. Today, a few of the original statues remain, along with a mural of the Trung Sisters.
The First Vietnamese American Bank in Westminster is the first to serve co-ethnic clientele (as well as reaching out to Korean and Hispanic clientele) in the United States. Saigon National Bank, located on Brookhurst Street is the first nationally chartered bank organized and owned by Vietnamese Americans in the United States. In addition, in attempting to attract Vietnamese clientele, several Chinese American banks also operate Vietnamese-speaking branches in Little Saigon, including Cathay Bank, East West Bank, United Commercial Bank, and Chinatrust Bank. Major banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo also have branches with mostly Vietnamese-speaking staff and with Vietnamese signs to attract customers.
Plans of a tourist economy
There have been plans to turn Westminster's Little Saigon (Bolsa Avenue) into an ethnic tourist attraction, to draw tourists, particularly from Disneyland. Plans were proposed by Jao for a pedestrian-friendly area and a 500-foot bridge - with a projected cost of nearly $3 million - connecting several Vietnamese shopping centers as well as envisioning it to resemble historic Saigon. However, in 1996, a small committee made up of local ethnic Vietnamese residents decried the design of the bridge as being too heavily Chinese-influenced. The concept has since been scrapped.
Media and entertainment center
Westminster is generally considered the main cultural center of the Vietnamese American community with several Vietnamese-language television stations, radio stations, and newspapers originating from Little Saigon and adjacent areas (for example, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana). For example, there are the newspapers of Nguoi Viet, The Little Saigon News and Vien Dong Daily News. Many Little Saigon newspaper offices are based on Moran Street in Westminster and Vien Dong Daily News also has its own auditorium. There are also the broadcasts of Little Saigon TV, SBTN TV, VietFace TV (owned by the Vietnamese music and entertainment company Thuy Nga, also based in Westminster), VNA TV, Saigon TV, Little Saigon Radio (Southern California: KVNR AM 1480), and Radio Bolsa (Southern California: KALI-FM 106.3 FM). At least one radio station broadcast 24 hours a day in Vietnamese and 4 television substations broadcasting in Vietnamese 24 hours a day as of 2009. In addition, many advertisements in Los Angeles area Vietnamese-language programming and publications invariably refer to businesses in Westminster. Many stories about the Vietnamese American community in Orange County are regularly featured in The Orange County Register.
Little Saigon has also emerged as the prominent center of the Vietnamese pop music industry with several recording studios, and with a recording industry many times larger than in Vietnam itself. Vietnamese music recorded in Westminster are distributed and sold in Vietnamese communities throughout the United States and in Australia, France, and Germany as well as illegally in Vietnam. As many as 30 studios once operated in Little Saigon, but the effects of piracy have reduced the number of companies remaining. The US headquarters of the popular Vietnamese music company, Thuy Nga, is located in the heart of Westminster.
Garden Grove Park is the location of an annual Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival held in late January - early February known as Tết. Small amusement park rides, dances, and contests are held in Garden Grove Park which is across the street from Bolsa Grande High School grounds and is hosted by the Union of Vietnamese Student Association (UVSA).
Westminster's Little Saigon is a vehemently anti-Communist community. From 1981 to 1993, Vietnamese patriotic organizations claimed responsibility for the executions of five Vietnamese American journalists sympathetic to the communist regime.
Anti-Ho Chi Minh protest of 1999
Before the Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) celebrations of 1999, a Vietnamese-American video store owner named Truong Van Tran caused controversial stir when he displayed in his store a portrait of Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. This stirred and created anger and passions in the local Vietnamese American community, many of whom were war veterans (of South Vietnamese military), refugees and immigrants from the former South Vietnam - a curious irony since Tran himself was among the refugees who fled the country. Others that participated were some Vietnamese Americans from San Jose. Mass vigils with wavings of South Vietnamese flags and demonstrations (sometimes peaceful and sometimes coming close to a riot), in front of the store ensued. For example, an egg was tossed at Tran as he was entering his store. In a coup de grâce, the owner was then arrested by Westminster city police on the charge of illegally renting and copying pirated videos (predominantly Vietnamese entertainment videos, i.e. Thuy Nga's Paris By Night series and Asia Entertainment videos). Since the incident, the video store has disappeared. The event also raised some controversial issues about constitutional free speech in the United States. This incident was also branded as the Hi-Tek Incident, Hi-Tek being the name of the store.
Despite such anti-communist fervor in Little Saigon, however, remittance services (which allow Vietnamese Americans to send money to family members in Vietnam) still remain popular and grocers stock merchandise imported from Vietnam.
Westminster's Little Saigon was also the subject for the 2004 documentary Saigon, U.S.A., which was co-produced by the local Orange County PBS member station KOCE-TV. This documentary is tied to the aforementioned video store incident and profiles the lives of some local Vietnamese American residents - including refugees and American-born generations - and community leaders. It gained some controversy when one of the Vietnamese American interviewees claimed that the 1999 anti-Ho Chi Minh protests in Little Saigon did not solve anything. The film is shown throughout the United States on PBS stations.
Vietnamese Americans, due to their large numbers, have exercised considerable political power in Westminster and Garden Grove. Many have won public offices in these two cities. In the 2007 special election to replace the county supervisor serving the district containing Little Saigon, the top two candidates were Vietnamese Americans, garnering almost half the votes in a crowded field of 8 candidates. While comprising 25% of the district's registered voters, Vietnamese Americans accounted for nearly half of all the absentee votes cast. The winner would become the first Vietnamese-American county supervisor in the nation. Several Vietnamese Americans serve in the Garden Grove and Westminster city councils. They have pressured the Westminster city council to recognize the former South Vietnamese flag and the Garden Grove city council to controversially designate it a "no-communist zone." In 2003, they helped raise money for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Westminster commemorating American and South Vietnamese soldiers. In 2004, Van Tran became the first Vietnamese American to be elected to a state legislature, representing parts of Orange County. Vietnamese Americans attend many city council meetings.
Orange County is the heartland of Republican politics in Southern California. Most Vietnamese Americans in Little Saigon are registered Republicans and it was once anathema to be a Democrat. Hoping to gain the support of Vietnamese American Republicans, Republican presidential candidate (and Vietnam War POW) John McCain once made a campaign stop at the Asian Garden Mall. McCain also drew the ire of some younger Vietnamese Americans when he called his North Vietnamese captors "gooks" (a derogatory term for Asians in general). But other Vietnamese Americans in Orange County, especially U.S.-born, are also Democratic as the younger generations become more concerned with the rights of the blue-collar population in the United States, rather than the old-world politics of Vietnam. However, the registration rates for Republicans still outnumber Democrats with 55% registered Republicans and only 22% registered Democrats.
Future of the community
The Vietnamese American population has now begun to diffuse from Little Saigon to traditionally working-class Hispanic cities, such as Santa Ana and southward to professional middle-class predominantly white cities such as Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley.
Over the years, the vibrant community of Little Saigon has experienced frequent openings and closures of small mom-and-pop Vietnamese businesses, resulting in sights of some abandoned strip plazas. The changing landscape of the Vietnamese American population would bring a more multicultural flavor to Orange County, but as with Chinatowns, could potentially eliminate its identity as a "Little Saigon" as the population of foreign-born Vietnamese old-timers declines and more younger generations of Vietnamese American families attune to mainstream American culture (especially with a preference for fashionable malls over the Vietnamese ethnic malls in Little Saigon) and move on to affluent communities further away from the Little Saigon area.
Little Saigon has seen a surge in coffee shops "Quan Ca-Fe" which are the equivalent to American coffee shops, where Vietnamese men go to spend time with male friends and drink coffee. With such a proliferation in coffee shops, the city of Westminster has limited the number of new coffee shop business licenses.
San Gabriel Valley
Due to the large influx and presence of relatively poor ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam in the 1980s (which also coincided with the arrival of immigrant elite from Taiwan and Hong Kong), the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles has another important concentration of Vietnamese in Southern California. While not generally referred to as "Little Saigon", the stretch of Garvey Avenue in the working-class barrios of Rosemead, California, South El Monte, California, and El Monte, California have a relatively heavy but scattered collection of businesses owned mainly by majority ethnic Chinese Vietnamese with a growing number of ethnic Vietnamese residents and business owners as well. Many of these businesses are housed in tiny strip malls whereas others occupy freestanding, aging buildings. These Vietnamese businesses are very gradually replacing businesses owned by Hispanics.
Rosemead is the Vietnamese center of the San Gabriel Valley. One particular shopping center in Rosemead, called Diamond Square, is anchored by the Taiwanese American chain 99 Ranch Market(now closed) and contains various Chinese Vietnamese small businesses and a food court catering to local Asians. The Diamond Square is now closed and is replaced by The Square anchored by the Korean American. The 99 Ranch Market is replaced by the Square Supermarket.
It remains a major hub for working-class Vietnamese and Mainland Chinese expatriates residing in the area. Many Vietnamese of ethnic Chinese origin also tend to own countless businesses - especially supermarkets, restaurants, beauty parlors, and auto repair shops - in the main general mixed-Chinese commercial thoroughfares of Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park, California and Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, California, San Gabriel, California, and Rosemead. There are already several phở and banh mi eateries represented along Valley Boulevard.
The Sriracha hot sauce manufacturer Huy Fong Foods (known for its rooster logo and found in countless Vietnamese restaurants) is owned by a Chinese Vietnamese refugee named David Tran and was originally located in Chinatown, Los Angeles but it relocated to its larger facility in Rosemead.
In 2005, John Tran became the first Vietnamese American to be elected to a seat on the city council of Rosemead. Since 2006, he has been the mayor of the city, a position that is held by rotation among the council members.
Comprising over 100,000 residents, about 10.6% of the population, (as of the 2010 U.S. Census) San Jose's Vietnamese community is comparable to the one in Orange County. San Jose has more Vietnamese residents than any single city outside of Vietnam. Vietnamese-language radio programs from Orange County are rebroadcast in the region. Although the Vietnamese-language edition of the San Jose Mercury News is now discontinued, many other publications offer Vietnamese literature enjoyed by the community. Several shopping malls on Tully Road cater to Vietnamese tastes, such as the popular Grand Century Mall (Grand Century Mall is actually on Story Road, parallel to, but about 2 miles north of, Tully). While there are some references to Vietnamese shops along Tully, Story Road is where Vietnam Town is being built and Kelley Park borders Story. Lee's Sandwiches, (a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich chain eatery) as well as the phở chain, Pho Hoa Restaurant, had their first locations here. The Vietnamese community in San Jose is more fully integrated into the local community, and as a result not as high-profile as other places.
The Vietnamese community of San Jose has been politically divided over the naming of the business district, with various groups favoring "Little Saigon", "New Saigon", and "Vietnamese Business District". Non-Vietnamese businesses and residents, as well as the San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce have also opposed the name "Little Saigon". In November 2007, the San Jose City Council voted 8-3 to choose the compromise name "Saigon Business District", resulting in ongoing protest, debate, and an effort to recall city council member Madison Nguyen, who proposed the name "Saigon Business District". On March 4, 2008, after a public meeting in which more than 1000 "Little Saigon" supporters participated, the city council voted 11-1 to rescind the name "Saigon Business District", but stopped short of renaming it. The recall of Nguyen failed in March 2009.
With a large and growing Vietnamese American population, in February 2010, a stretch of Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento from Florin Road to Fruitridge Road has been officially named "Little Saigon". Although settlement of Vietnamese refugees began during the 1980s, large numbers of Vietnamese have moved from the San Jose area to the Sacramento area since the late 1990s and 2000s (decade) (especially after the dot-com bust in Silicon Valley). People were drawn to the area by lower housing prices, lower cost of living, and Vietnamese and Chinese enclaves. The large Asian supermarket Shun Fat Supermarket (a small Southern California-based chain owned by a Chinese Vietnamese American) opened in 2000 to cater to the local community and anchors Pacific Plaza. One of the First Vietnamese-Chinese owned supermarkets was Vinh Phat Supermarket. SF Supermarket is a prominent fixture at the intersections of 65th and Stockton Boulevard. This center also houses Huong Lan which is famous for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. In 2010, a new 99 Ranch Market opened on Florin Road. The strip of Stockton Boulevard has great amount of Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and many places for ethnic foods, such as phở and boba. There are nearby Vietnamese Chinese shopping centers planned for development, including Little Saigon Plaza (to be anchored by a supermarket) that is to be developed by prominent San Jose-based Vietnamese American developers. Other current shopping centers sport names such as Little Vietnam and Pacific Rim Plaza. As a testament to the areas burgeoning Vietnamese community the Southgate branch (66th avenue, near Stockton Blvd) of Sacramento Public library is carry a large collection of Vietnamese materials.
In early 2004, San Francisco officially designated Larkin Street between Eddy and O'Farrell streets as "Little Saigon" (Sài Gòn Nhỏ). Located in the Tenderloin district where 2,000 of the city's 13,000 Vietnamese-American residents live, the two-block stretch is more than 80% Vietnamese-owned. Unlike San Jose, with its larger ethnic Vietnamese population, the ethnic Chinese from Vietnam are well represented in San Francisco due to self-segregation. Banners and directional signs have already been posted. A formal symbolic entrance was erected in July 2008, akin to those for San Francisco's Japantown and Chinatown (albeit smaller).
San Pablo has a pan-Asian shopping center called San Pablo Marketplace, developed by Orange County-based developer Frank Jao.
When the "first wave" of Vietnamese immigrants started to arrive in 1981, many settled in the communities adjacent to San Diego State University, such as City Heights and Talmadge, better known as East San Diego. As families and individuals became more affluent however, many relocated to other communities in the city: Linda Vista, Clairemont, Serra Mesa, etc. (Central San Diego) and what was then brand-new tract communities such as Mira Mesa, Rancho Penasquitos, Rancho Bernardo, etc.)
With a population of about 35,000 people, the San Diego metropolitan area ranks as one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the United States. Because of the Vietnamese population's unique migration patterns in the city, it does not have a huge concentration of Vietnamese businesses in a particular area like other metropolitan areas (e.g., Westminster, San Jose, Houston, etc.) Still, there are 3 notable Vietnamese business districts in the San Diego region: Mira Mesa Blvd. (North San Diego), El Cajon Blvd. (East San Diego), and Convoy Street/Linda Vista Road (Central San Diego).
The area on El Cajon Boulevard in East San Diego will be getting official City of San Diego status as "Little Saigon San Diego, as referenced on the web page littlesaigonsandiego.org.
Following the development of the Far East Center shopping complex, a growing Vietnamese commercial district is emerging on Federal Boulevard between Evans and Alameda Avenues in Denver, Colorado, with already choices of Vietnamese cuisine eateries and various businesses. This particular area has already been promoted as evidence of the city's cultural diversity. There is also a growing Vietnamese population in Aurora, Colorado, specifically between in an area bordered to the North by Alameda Avenue, to the South by E. Hampden Avenue, Chambers Rd. in the East and Havana St. in the West. There are currently about 21,000 Vietnamese living in the Denver-Aurora-Boulder Metro Area.
A thriving Vietnamese quarter called "Little Vietnam" exists in the Colonialtown district of Orlando, Florida. The neighborhood has become a landmark in the city of Orlando and consist of a countless, and always growing, number of restaurants, groceries, and Vietnamese professional offices that serve the local Vietnamese community with everything from taxes to medical and dental care. Stores supply Asian pop-culture to the community in the form of karaoke bars, Bubble tea shops, Vietnamese video and music shops, and stores featuring candies and collectibles from across Asia. The heart of the district is the intersection of East Colonial Drive/HWY50 and Mills Ave, also known as the "Vi-Mi" district.
The Orlando Vietnamese community has its roots in war refugees seeking a new life in America after the fall of Saigon. Notable pro-democracy activists, such as Thuong Nguyen Foshee, who was just recently released from prison in Vietnam, call Orlando their home.
The Vietnamese Community in Orlando, along with institutions like Long Van Temple, St. Philip Phan Van Minh Church, Vietnamese Baptist Church, and groups such as The Vietnamese Association of Central Florida, strive to maintain their heritage as well as share their culture with the rest of Orlando. Annual events, such as the numerous Tet New Year Celebrations at the Central Florida Fairgrounds and across the city, help spread Vietnamese culture and promote diversity throughout Orlando.
There are many Vietnamese businesses located in the mixed-Asian – that is, co-existing with ethnic Korean and Chinese businesses – commercial and cultural strip of Buford Highway in Doraville and Chamblee, which are working-class suburbs of Atlanta. Although a fair number of post-war Vietnamese refugees settled in Atlanta earlier, many Vietnamese Americans from California and other parts of the United States have been relocating into the Atlanta area and making a fairly large presence since the 1990s. Atlanta is home to one of the fastest-growing Vietnamese populations in the world.
It is estimated that there are 40,000 Vietnamese-Americans in the Gulf Coast, and 1 in every 4 fishermen from the area are Vietnamese-American.
Vietnamese-Americans make up one-third of the population in the fishing hamlet of Bayou La Batre. A majority of the community work in the seafood industry, while a smaller percentage work in the shipbuilding industry. The eastern side of the city is nicknamed "Little Vietnam" due to the high number of Vietnamese-American residents. Vietnamese businesses have been sustained by the social integration of the Vietnamese and mainstream's cultures. The city also sees, within the Vietnamese American community, a large sub-community of Amerasians. Many were brought to the US through the Amerasian Homecoming Act and relocated to the area due to similarities in environment and industry to what they were accustomed to.
Louisiana is home to many Vietnamese, many of whom especially engaged in traditional fishing. Both Louisiana and Vietnam had been French colonies. New Orleans has several areas with a concentration of Vietnamese-American businesses. The largest among these communities is located around Village de L'Est, which includes significant community and commercial institutions such as Mary Queen of Vietnam Church and Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery.
There is a Vietnamese business section in Baton Rouge, located near the 12000 block of Florida Blvd (Hwy 190), which consists of restaurants, grocery stores, and other various businesses, even found throughout some other sections of the city.
In 2008, Anh "Joseph" Cao made history after being elected to Congress as a Republican from Louisiana's heavily Democratic 2nd congressional district, which includes most of New Orleans. Cao served one term, and was the first person of Vietnamese ancestry ever elected to the U.S. Congress.
A small "Little Saigon" can be found on Oak Street in Biloxi. Many Vietnamese-Americans relocated to southern Mississippi due to the similar environment and industry they were accustomed to back in Vietnam. The Vietnamese-American labor force in this area is usually spread between the fishing, gambling, and shipbuilding industries.
Argyle Street in the city of Chicago contains a Little Saigon district, and it has become the hub of vibrant Vietnamese culture in the city. It is referred to by Chicagoans as the "New Chinatown" little Saigon, or most commonly Argyle. Argyle is easily accessible from the CTA's Red Line Argyle stop.
Dorchester, Massachusetts, a neighborhood of Boston, is home to a major Vietnamese business center in the Northeast. It serves some 65,000 Vietnam-born Americans in the Boston-Worcester area as well as those in surroundings states such as Connecticut and Rhode Island. Communities there are served by a number of Viet-organized social service agencies (such as [http://www.VietAid.org Viet-AID, the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development) and some religious and publicly funded organizations. Native Vietnamese who speak fluent Vietnamese, whether or not they live in Boston, are recruited for work here.
Kansas City is home to more than 10,000 Vietnamese immigrants. Four small "Little Saigons" contain various businesses, including phở restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, video gift stores, cell phone stores, pool halls and jewelry stores. One of the "Little Saigons" can be found on Campbell St. There is a large supermarket on Cherry St. called "Kim Longs Asian Market & Restaurant" which now has a food court in the front of the store.
St. Louis also has a large Vietnamese refugee population. The majority of restaurants and stores are in "South City" on or near Grand Ave.
While not titled as a "Little Saigon", the suburban community of Madison Heights in the Detroit area has become a center of Vietnamese commerce. Located on John R Road and on Dequindre Road, several Vietnamese markets, Phở noodle soup restaurants, movie/music stores, several nail supply stores, herbal store and beauty salons have cropped up along two streets.
Inkster Michigan has a neighborhood known as "Little Saigon" This refers to the Vietnam war and not Vietnamese people.
"Little Saigon" is a collection of housing projects along Henry Ruff and Annapolis where bullet holes and boarded windows are common.
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In New York City, the Vietnamese area exceeds the diminutive connotation. In Manhattan's sprawling Chinatown, "Little Saigon" is truly little. In fact, it’s tiny. There is Vietnamese food in a handful of shops near the Grand Street subway station. From the station is the New York's bevy of Vietnamese shops. It’s an L-shaped teeny area that spans Grand Street up to Bowery and southward down to Hester. There's produce for sale on the street and people milling about looking for groceries and sundries.
Along Grand, one can found a butcher, seafood vendor, and a Vietnamese market that proudly announces its Vietnamese affiliation as a "Sieu Thi Viet Nam" – Vietnamese market. There are also fresh herbs, noodles, fish sauce and even net-like wrappers called banh re, which are hard to find outside of Vietnam these days. That market keeps those wrappers very fresh.
In Charlotte, Central Avenue (near Briar Creek Rd.) is the original "Chinatown" consisting of "Saigon Square" and a pair of other Chinese/Vietnamese shopping plazas that include "Dim Sum Restaurant" (which serves New York-style dim sum), the "Eang Hong Supermarket", "Van Loi" (which serves cha shao), and a dozen or so other stores. Saigon Square has various Vietnamese (albeit not Chinese) stores including Pho Hoa (Vietnamese noodles). Asian Corner Mall on North Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road, developed from the defunct Tryon Mall in 1999, with "Dragon Court Restaurant", "Hong Kong BBQ", "International Supermarket", and "New Century Market" and several other Chinese/Vietnamese stores.
There are also areas in Greensboro where Vietnamese-run businesses (including stores and restaurants) are prevalent.
Oklahoma City has a significant Vietnamese American business district and ethnic neighborhood located in the center part of the city. While it is officially known as Asia District by the city, due to the abundant Asian diversity of the neighborhood (similar in many respects to International District in Seattle), much of the original Little Saigon portion centers along Military Dr. and NW 25rd St. between N. Classen Blvd. and N. Shartel Ave.
Tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees were relocated to Oklahoma City during the 1980s. Over time, they have established businesses in a gentrified area to the west of the Uptown NW 23rd and Classen Blvd. business districts and the area begun to be known as a Little Saigon.
The original Little Saigon area features numerous phở cafés, Vietnamese bakeries and restaurants, and Asian supermarkets. There are also numerous hopping nightclubs, karaoke, and videobars joining the growing list of Chinese, Thai, Filipino, and Korean residents and establishments that make up the remainder of surrounding Asia District.
The district is very popular with local residents and students from nearby Oklahoma City University providing a colorful and authentic taste of the far east without leaving the heartland of America. Oklahoma City's original Little Saigon neighborhood was featured in the New York times as well as National Geographic's March 2003 issue's ZipUSA series titled "73106: Lemongrass on the Prairie".
10,641 Vietnamese Americans live in the Portland area. Many Vietnamese restaurants, markets, and other businesses in Portland can be found on NE Sandy Boulevard, SE Powell Boulevard, and NE 82nd Avenue. But there are some Vietnamese business around the Portland area such as Beaverton, Hillsboro, Aloha, and Tigard.
South Philadelphia near the Italian Market has a large Vietnamese American population. Many Vietnamese businesses tucked in strip malls have emerged on Washington Avenue to service the local immigrant population. The Vietnamese sandwich banh mi is gaining much attention in Philadelphia and is now competing with the Philly Cheesesteak.
As of 2005, Vietnamese are projected to become the largest ethnicity in South Philadelphia. Philadelphia is in the top ten cities with Vietnamese populations and Vietnamese immigration destinations. Philadelphia even has a higher percentage and numerical population of Vietnamese than New York City, one of few Asian backgrounds that shy from New York.
Memphis has a significant Vietnamese community, affectionately known as "Little Hanoi" located along Cleveland Avenue in Midtown. The community includes many Vietnamese restaurants and shops, as well as a Vietnamese Buddhist temple and areas of predominantly Vietnamese housing. Little Hanoi is one of the last and largest non-Hispanic immigrant enclaves in the Memphis metropolitan area.
A section of Midtown Houston known as "Little Saigon" or "Vietnamtown" was the original commercial district home for the Vietnamese community in Houston. Vietnamese street signs denote the area since 1998. In 2004, this area was officially named "Little Saigon" by the city of Houston. The redevelopment of Midtown Houston from run-down to upscale increased property values and property taxes, forcing many Vietnamese-American businesses out of the neighborhood into other areas.
A few of the locals will still call this southwest area of Houston as "Southwest New Chinatown". This title was used to distinguish from the Downtown area's Chinatown that went in disarray after the construction of the George R. Brown Convention Center. Even though the area is primarily Vietnamese and Chinese, there is also a large amount of Filipino Americans, Arab Muslims, Indonesian Americans, and Pakistani Americans in the area, as well as a sizable amount of African Americans, whom were once the majority in the Little Saigon area prior to the Vietnam War.
Dallas - Fort Worth (DFW)
In addition to the ones listed here, several unofficial Little Saigons are located in the Metroplex. Dallas is also considered another one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the United States, along with its sister city, Fort Worth.
- One Little Saigon is located in Garland, along Walnut Street between Audelia Road and Jupiter Road. This one is the largest, consisting of four large supermarkets (Hiep Thai, New Truong Nguyen, Hong Kong, and Saigon Asian Supermarket [Saigon Mall] in Garland). Each supermarket listed below is located in a different shopping complex and has a number of restaurants.
- Hiep Thai: northeast corner of Jupiter and Walnut.
- New Truong Nguyen: northwest corner of Jupiter and Walnut.
- Hong Kong: southwest corner of Audelia and Walnut.
- Saigon Asian Supermarket: northeast corner of Jupiter Road and Beltline Road (SaiGon Mall in Garland borders with city of Richardson)
- The restaurants in the area are Bistro B, La Me, Doan, Pho 95, Pho Bang, SaiGon Kitchen, Nam Hua, Saigon Block, Pho Tay Do, Pho Que Huong, Pho Bac, Pho Pasteur, Huong Ly (in Richardson), and many more.
- Another one is located in Arlington, on Pioneer Parkway. This Little Saigon includes a couple supermarkets (Saigon-Taipei, Hong Kong), restaurants, and Vietnamese karaoke/café bars.
- The third one is in Irving on Beltline Road, with Little Saigon Mall. A small concentration of Vietnamese restaurants are being built on MacArthur and Beltline through Las Colinas and Valley Ranch. These restaurants are unique, infusing Korean, Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Chinese influences.
- There are also a number Vietnamese strip malls along Beltline in Carrollton. Though the area is predominantly Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean shops and churches can be found there, as well.
- Haltom City (on E Belknap St.) with many grocery stores, restaurants, and other stores.
The Washington, D.C., suburb of Seven Corners in Fairfax County, Virginia, is home to the largest Vietnamese American population and cultural center on the eastern seaboard. While there is no full-fledged "Little Saigon" to speak of, the most prominent hub for local-area Vietnamese is the shopping mall called the Eden Center, complete with a garden and an arch signifying its entrance.
Seattle, has a significant, prosperous Vietnamese American business district centered at 12th Avenue and Jackson Street, immediately east of the city's considerably older Chinatown district. This Vietnamese area has not been officially designated a "Little Saigon", although a few street signs with this name have been erected. Rather, the area – along with the Chinatown district – has retained the longstanding name International District (now officially Chinatown/International District, but often just "The I.D."), dating back to the late 1940s. The predominantly Chinese and predominantly Vietnamese areas are separated from one another by an Interstate 5 viaduct, but there is easy pedestrian and car access between the two.
Tacoma, as well, has an area commonly known as the "Lincoln International District", which is almost entirely filled with Vietnamese restaurants, grocers, and shops. Though officially not known as "Little Saigon", the area is normally referred to as such by the local resident population.
Many ethnic Vietnamese from Cambodia and Vietnam, also known as the first Boat people settled in Malaysia as Vietnam War refugees. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Vietnamese boat people started to arrive in Malaysia. Soon they were arriving in large numbers and Malaysia became the temporary home to more than 250,000 of them. Today, Vietnamese migrant workers are an important component of Peninsular Malaysia's foreign workforce. Partly as a security measure related to terrorism dangers, the Malaysian government determined early in 2002 that recruitment of foreign workers would be carried out on a government-to-government basis. At that time the foreign workforce was listed at around 800,000 with only a handful being from Vietnam. For many of these workers, their living conditions are dependent on their employers. Large employers in all sectors provide housing and transportation in fulfillment of some of the requirements under the government agreements.
Bidong Island, which served as a refugee camp for boat people escaping the Vietnam War, was closed on October 30, 1991. About 250,000 Vietnamese had passed through or resided in the camp. With the closing of the camp, the remaining refugees were either repatriated back to Vietnam or moved to mainland Malaysia. The refugees strongly protested their forced repatriation. A total of 9,000 Vietnamese were repatriated between 1991 and August 28, 2005 when the last refugees departed Malaysia for Vietnam. In 1999, the island was opened to tourism. It has regained its former pristine beauty and many former refugees have made the island their second home under the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
In Melbourne the suburb of Richmond has a large proportion of Vietnamese-Australians, Victoria Street is often nicknamed Little Saigon. Other Vietnamese communities are centered around Springvale Road in Springvale, most parts of Footscray and also in St Albans. In Sydney they are concentrated in Bankstown, Cabramatta, Canley Vale and Villawood.
- South Vietnam
- Vietnamese Australian
- Vietnamese American
- Vietnamese Canadian
- List of U.S. cities with large Vietnamese American populations
- Oh, Saigon
- Overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu)
- Mazumdar, Sanjoy; Shampa Mazumdar, Faye Docuyanan, and Colette Marie McLaughlin (December 2000). "Creating a Sense of Place: The Vietnamese-Americans and Little Saigon". Journal of Environmental Psychology 20 (4): 319–333. doi:10.1006/jevp.2000.0170.
- Merrill Balassone (2005-10-23). "The heart of Little Saigon beats strong". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
- Quyen Do (2008-05-10). "A big Little Saigon Star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- Andrew Vontz (February 19, 2006). "Hanoi Heart Throbs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- Mai Tran (12 March 2004). "Shock Jock's Listeners Aren't All Talk". Los Angeles Times.
- "Election analysis: many firsts in the 1st". Orange County Register. 2007-02-09. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
- "OC Blog: Post-Election Spinning". Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- Cicero A. Estrella (February 16, 2004). "S.F.'s Little Saigon: Stretch of Larkin Street named for Vietnamese Americans". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
- Stockton Boulevard Named 'Little Saigon'
- Supes OK 'Little Saigon' For Sacramento
- Commercial Real Estate Forum - CRE News
- Denny Lee (2010-05-09). "36 Hours in Houston". New York Times (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- "Exit Vietnam: Photo shows Vietnamese transformation". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Kearney, Syd (2008-09). A Marmac Guide to Houston and Galveston. Pelican Publishing. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-1-58980-548-4. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- "City adopts 'Little Saigon'". Houston Business Journal. 2004-05-10. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Nancy Sarnoff (2004-11-28). "Little Saigon tries to carry on / City pushing for ways to give area new life". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Vietnamese Yellow Pages in DFW
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Little Saigon|
- Little Saigon News
- The Fall and Rise of Saigon from the Orange County Register
- Town Hall in Little Saigon (Wednesday, June 25) Interviews with several Orange County Little Saigon community and business leaders on NPR's KPCC
- Blog about happenings in Little Saigon
- AsianWeek: Big Plans for Little Saigon - In-depth article on the development of Little Saigon in Orange County, California.
- An Advisory Services Panel Report on Little Saigon - Urban Land Institute