Chinatown Heritage Park
A Signature Park at Riverside Chinatown
the Chinatown Site in Riverside, CA
"signature park" is a park containing a special community asset.
These parks typically contain a unique natural, or historic feature,
and help to define a community’s sense of place. Riverside examples
include Mount Rubidoux, California Citrus State Historic Park,
Fairmount Park, and the Santa Ana River. Reactivating Riverside’s
Chinatown at Tequesquite and Brockton Avenues as a signature park
would help residents and visitors better understand and appreciate
the role Chinese workers had in building the early infrastructure of
our City, region and State, while providing a community-serving
amenity. Our vision for a signature park at the historic site of
Riverside Chinatown is compatible with the City of Riverside's
General Plan 2025, California's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor
Recreation Plan, and California’s Statewide Historic Preservation
graphic below illustrates how suggested elements could be arranged
on the site. The elements are intended as suggestions to guide
future study and public input after the site is secured for
Concept design prepared by Pete Dangermond of
acquisition, the first priority will be to conserve the
archaeological values of the site. Careful restoration and
contouring of the site some feet above the original surface level is
needed. Non-historic physical intrusions should be removed to allow
for park-like improvements. Suggested park elements for
consideration after site clean-up and stabilization include:
1. The overall area should have a park-like setting with appropriate
turf, landscaping and trees.
2. An off-street parking area should be provided, and there is a
suitable space bordering Tequesquite Avenue at the southwesterly end
of the site.
3. An interpretive/visitor center would greatly enhance the visitors
experience. It would best be located adjacent to the parking at the
entry to the park. The center should be approximately 3000-4,000
square feet in size and primarily feature interpretive displays and
archaeological materials salvaged from the site. These are presently
stored by the Riverside Municipal Museum and are not accessible for
4. The center could significantly expand its value to the community
with a multi-purpose room and adjacent outdoor courtyard for
educational and other community uses. Other elements should include
a book/gift shop, restrooms, and other support facilities.
5. The primary access to Chinatown should pass through the center
and lead over to the primary interpretive resource, the historic
Chinatown Street. Interpretation of the street could done with a
number of elements. It could be bordered by signage, building
outlines, and other devices to evoke the historic street scene of
6. Reconstruction of the historic water tower which was located at
the corner of Tequesquite and Brockton Avenues could be an important
feature. This would be used as a visible "marker" for the park,
visible to all who pass through this busy intersection.
7. A small formal Chinese garden is possible at the northeast corner
of the site. The purpose would be as a remembrance/meditation garden
for both regular park visitors as well as visitors from the hospital
across the street. Chinese medicinal plants could be included
and interpreted as a tie-in with the nearby medical facilities.
8. Another community serving facility could be a group
picnic/multicultural event space . It could be used for a variety of
functions including Chinese and other ethnic group celebrations and
festivals. An appropriate spot where it could be located is in the
northwest corner of the site. This is the approximate location of
the original temporary tent overflow area used for workers during
harvest time in the orange groves.
9. An important feature could be a demonstration garden featuring
vegetables and other plants originally grown by the Chinatown
residents for local use and sale. Planting of some citrus trees
could also provide the connections between the Chinese workers and
the groves. A suitable location could be between the events space
10. Replantings and interpretation of the significance of the
Ailanthus “Sacred Tree of Heaven”
at locations in the park and around the perimeter.
PROPOSED SETTING AND RELATIONSHIPS
Establishing an appropriate setting for the overall park is also
possible through the following measures:
....Tequesquite Avenue is only two blocks long, but it connects
Chinatown with the new
Bonaminio Park where some of the
historic vegetable fields tended by the Chinese were located. It is
proposed that it be narrowed from four to two lanes and the extra
space utilized as a path and parkway connection between the two.
....Provide a pedestrian crosswalk from the hospital parking lot
entry to the northeast corner of the park, where plantings and a
raised viewing platform overlooking Chinatown provide a restful
place for contemplation of history and nature.
....Redevelop the adjacent derelict property to the north with a
related business such as a Chinese restaurant with parking that
could be jointly used by the park during major events.
....Create physical and visual access between the site and cemetery
to create a larger park-like historical space.
.... Provide well marked and visually pleasing walkway/trail
connections, including interpretive signs, along the exterior
boundaries of the site, to the greater downtown historic sites as
well as to the Santa Ana River trail and the new entry up Mount
.... Participate in "traffic-calming" efforts of Brockton Avenue
through street narrowing, landscaping, etc. as directed by the
City's larger vision for the area.