08 May The Recreation Season Welcomes a Historic New Park
On April 22, State Parks welcomed the newest member of its family of River-adjacent state parks into the world and declared the Los Angeles Historic State Park open to the public. Anyone who has followed the saga of this park and the land on which it sits knows this park has been a very long time coming (16 years to be exact). Thanks to the tireless leadership of Sean Woods and a range of community activists, the park is finally here and it’s one that represents the rich historic fabric of the surrounding community. We at FoLAR are proud to have been one of the many community forces that shepherded this park into Los Angeles’ ever-evolving reality.
The stunning new park is testament to the story of a group of committed advocates who ensured the park became just that – a park. That group was the Chinatown Yard Alliance, led by Arthur Golding, Chi Mui and none other than Friends of the Los Angeles River Founder Lewis MacAdams. In the past month, Lewis reflected on the opening of the State Park, reminisced on the Chinatown Yard Alliance, and remembered his dear friend Chi Mui:
by Lewis MacAdams Founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River and original member of the Chinatown Yard Alliance
Chi Mui grew up in the streets of Chinatown, Los Angeles, and New York. After graduating from college he came to Los Angeles and began to immerse himself in the politics of people’s lives and the LA River. He went to work for City Council Member Richard Alatorre as his Chinatown deputy. He epitomized the neighborhood organizer. He never missed a meeting. He was tireless in his devotion to the watershed. He and his ﬁrst wife struggled for housing in Chinatown, better schools, and a new library for the community. It was immediately obvious that Chi was a man of rare love of community and an even rarer ability to work hard to make his community’s dreams come true. When the battle started for the Chinatown yards, Chi was at the forefront of the struggle for the Cornﬁeld- a shuttered Southern Paciﬁc railyard between Chinatown and the Los Angeles River. His ability to speak both Mandarin and Cantonese made him an even rarer commodity in Chinatown. With Chi on our side, no one could say we were just a bunch of liberal white guys from the westside. From day one of the struggle for the yard there was Chi, he immediately became central to what lay ahead. Arthur Golding, Chi, and me were in Chinatown walking the streets, knocking on doors, building what would be the largest multiethnic, multiclass, multiracial coalition Los Angeles had ever seen. Always at the center of the battle, Chi was there. Every other Tuesday, the Chinatown Yard Alliance, as we called ourselves, would meet for dim sum and would discuss what was accomplished in the previous 2 weeks. Chi was there for every meeting. He was cheerful and warrior-like at the same time. After we won the battle that took years, Chi ran for mayor for the city of San Gabriel: the ﬁrst Chinese American mayor the town had ever known. Everybody knew Chi, he was a friend, he was an ally, and he was a true leader. In his own quiet way, he was a great man.