Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District

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This article is about the former Chinese enclave in San Diego. For the new Chinatown and Asian district, see Kearny Mesa, San Diego.
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
San Diego Chinese Center
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Gate

The Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District (APTHD), San Diego's historic Chinatown, is an eight-block district adjacent to and in part overlapping with the Gaslamp Quarter Historic District. The APTHD is bounded by Market Street on the north, 2nd Ave. on the west, 6th Ave. on the east and J St. on the south. 22 structures are considered historically contributing.


San Diego's Chinatown began in the area in the 1860s, settled by abalone fishermen. The area was once a thriving Chinatown full of Chinese and Chinese-Americans, who were not allowed to live in other sections of the city. However, the area no longer has an especially large Chinese or Asian population. After the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 (which banned them from becoming citizens and owning property), and after returning from service in World War II, Chinese-Americans moved to other areas of San Diego.

The City of San Diego designated the area a historic district in 1987.

A "makeover" by the Centre City Development Corporation is scheduled for completion in 2012.[1]

Architecture and Contributing Buildings[edit]

The 22 contributing structures date from 1883-1930. Contribution is based on their relation in the Asian (mostly Chinese) community. Buildings include the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum and the San Diego Chinese Center.

The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum was built in 1927 elsewhere and was originally the Chinese Mission.[2] It was moved to its present location in 1996.[3] Murray K. Lee, curator of the museum, is as of January 2011 preparing a book about the history of Chinatown.[4]


  • Center City Redevelopment Corporation, "Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District Master Plan", approved August 15, 1995

External links[edit]

  • San Diego Chinese Historical Museum - Houses a permanent collection of Chinatown artifacts, hosts rotating exhibits from all aspects of Chinese and Chinese American culture, presents tours and lectures of the museum and the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District

Coordinates: 32°42′38″N 117°09′40″W / 32.7105°N 117.1610°W / 32.7105; -117.1610