Long before the creation of Koreatown in LA, SF or NYC, there was Pachappa Camp in Riverside, CA, a settlement of Korean Americans that dates back to 1904. There are many strange mysteries about this little known town but perhaps strangest of all is that it was forgotten for so long.
A new exhibit in Southern California showcases an integral part of Korean-American history that was only uncovered a few years ago. The exhibit about this unknown chapter in Korean American history will be on display at University of California Riverside ARTS in downtown Riverside until January 9, 2022.
Here are 10 amazing facts about Pachappa, the very first Koreatown in America
- Pachappa Camp was founded in 1904 by a man named Ahn Chang-Ho, a Korean independence activist who started an employment agency to help other Koreans find work
- Koreans came from San Francisco, Hawaii, and other parts of the country to work in the citrus groves of Riverside, California
- The town was named after the street where the settlement started, Pachappa Avenue
- There was no running water or electricity and the town was segregated
- Unlike the Chinese and Japanese settlements that consisted of bachelors, Pachappa consisted of families
- There was no drinking allowed in Pachappa
- The settlement thrived and community members celebrated weddings, birthdays, held Sunday services, meetings, lectures, and fundraising activities
- At some point the community had nearly 1,000 residents
- Pachappa was rediscovered by Prof. Edward T. Chang of the University of California, Riverside who spotted the settlement on a 1908 map issued by an insurance company
- Prof. Chang published two books on his discovery, “Korean Americans, a Concise History” and “Pachappa Camp: The First Koreatown in the United States”