News Release: Commissioner Dan Saltzman and PBOT join the Chinese American Citizens Alliance to dedicate new plaque commemorating the contributions of Portland's early Chinese settlers

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(September 15, 2017) Today, Commissioner Dan Saltzman and PBOT Director Leah Treat joined representatives of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland Lodge and members of Portland's Chinese American community to dedicate a new plaque in the heart of the city's original Chinatown. The plaque, a gift to the city from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland Lodge, commemorates the contributions of Portland's early Chinese settlers. 

old chinatown plaque

Between 1863 and 1900, there were over 5,000 Chinese living, working and doing business on SW 2nd Avenue between Taylor and Burnside, the City's original Chinatown. The plaque, designed by urban designer Suenn Ho, recognizes the contributions of these early settlers and memorializes their history for future generations.

"The Chinese American community has a long and storied history in Portland," said Commissioner Dan Saltzman. "The plaque commemorates this rich history and we deeply appreciate this gift to Portland."

chinatown plaque

“Our streets are one of our largest public spaces. At PBOT, we want these spaces to enhance our neighborhoods and serve our communities,” said PBOT Director Leah Treat. “So we were very happy to support this project. The plaque is a beautiful way to mark the significant contributions of past generations of Chinese Americans to our city and preserve this rich history for Portlanders and visitors alike.” 

“I would like to quote Alan Spears of National Park Conservation Association who said, ‘The absence of our people in the historical landscape of our country is in itself a civil rights matter,’ said Helen Ying, Portland Lodge Board Director and Old Town Chinatown Community Association Chair.  “We are simply elated to gift the bronze plaque to the City and mark the history and contributions of the Chinese American community to Portland."  Betty Jean Lee, Portland Lodge Board Director, added, "It has taken over a century to finally have the first Chinese community in Oregon documented. Now we can share it with the whole world.”

The plaque was installed by PBOT Maintenance and Operations personnel and can be seen on the corner of SW 2nd Avenue and Pine Street.

 About the Portland Bureau of Transportation: PBOT is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at

About the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland Lodge: The Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland Lodge is a chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance National Lodge. C.A.C.A. National was founded in 1895 in San Francisco against the backdrop of rampant racial discrimination toward Chinese Americans. The Portland chapter was established in 1921. It has a three-fold mission to develop leadership, service the community and promote civil rights.

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