San Gabriel Valley, CA: Small Town, Global City


he San Gabriel Valley is just like any other suburb in America. Life revolves around family and school; the social fabric is woven over cheap eats at the mall. But unlike most suburbs in America, the San Gabriel Valley is home to the largest Chinese diaspora in the country. In fact, eight of the region’s cities are majority Asian. That makes the “SGV” one of the few places where being Asian American is the norm – but where there is no normal version of being Asian American. 



Food and Chihuo photos by Gennia Cui // Creative Core. Boy Scout photos by Leslie Chang. Reburial photos courtesy of Lorraine Tong. Shelly Li and Ruby Knowlton photos by Erica Mu.

Episode Music

Ace of BaseI Saw the Sign
Panda BearLast Night at the Jetty
Fung Bros.626
Raymond Scott(Serenade On) Carribea Corner
Coco Steel and LovebombYachts
Booker T & The MGs

Comin’ Home Baby

RAC (ft. Katie Herzig)We Belong
Gunnar MadsenWedding Waltz
Bill FrisellSing Together Like a Family
Johnny CashRusty Cage (instrumental)
Various ArtistsMoon Over the West River
Jon BrionPeer Pressure
Laura SullivanClaire de Lune
FlakoMirror Box
Francoise HardyLe Temps de I’Amour
Andy CreegganTongue A
Jon BrionHe Really Needs Me
Michael Charles SmithAn Answer
Alexander DesplatThe War
Nosaj ThingAquarium
  • Bryant

    Wow, Shelly and Ruby’s story really hit home with me. My parents were both Filipino immigrants and I was raised in an American environment. Growing up, I never felt the need to identity as an American or Filipino.

    It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I began to realize that the gulf between those two worlds were growing further and further apart. It kind of hits you in the gut when you realize how American you really are, and how the “native parts” of you are slowly becoming a distant memory. I understand where Shelly is coming from.

  • Hank

    Great stories, great perspectives. I was born in ’65, lived off Valley Blvd and Garfield. I saw the blocks on Valley change, and by the time I came back to visit after college it was a different city.

  • Commnt8r

    I enjoyed this and found it interesting. When I hear stories like this, though, I feel so lucky to have grown up in Hawaii. When I moved to the Bay Area years ago, I found there was a big difference between my experience growing up there and the Asian Americans who had grown up in California.

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