Empowering an Endangered Little Tokyo - Little Tokyo Service Center

Empowering an Endangered Little Tokyo

Empowering an Endangered Little Tokyo

This year, Little Tokyo celebrates its 140th anniversary and was officially declared as one of America’s most endangered historic places.

Little Tokyo has withstood waves of threats over generations including WWII Japanese American incarceration camps, urban renewal, and major transit projects. Today, displacement and encroaching market rate development continue to threaten the neighborhood’s vitality.

As Little Tokyo holds its ground as one of only four remaining historic Japantowns in the entire United States, we celebrate our community’s perseverance, resilience and creativity that has strengthened our historic neighborhood.

For LTSC, preservation means more than just maintaining the neighborhood in a moment in time. Our approach to preservation factors in the present and the future to strengthen the neighborhood in a way that engages new generations and adapts to meet current needs.

Some of Our Approaches

Earlier this month, LTSC won the LA Conservancy’s Preservation Award for our small business volunteer program.

8 people standing holding a plaque on a red carpet

The Small Biz Hype Squad engages community members with Little Tokyo legacy small businesses, creating lifetime advocates in the process.

four people stand in a restaurant with the owner of the restaurant

This program was chosen by the LA Conservancy as a pioneering example of how community-driven initiatives can preserve legacy businesses and nurture cultural vibrancy in a historic neighborhood.

two children point at drawings in a restaurant menu

LTSC also owns and operates multiple properties in Little Tokyo that transformed historical buildings for modern use.

a three story old residential building with shops on the first floor

San Pedro Firm Building built 1923,
renovated 1991
Low-income housing, commercial space

a historic brick and concrete church

Union Center for the Arts (prev. Union Church of Los Angeles) built 1923, renovated 1998
Performing arts center – East West Players, LA Artcore, VC Media

a brick building with neon signs at sunset

Far East Building built 1896, renovated 2003
Low-income housing, commercial space

a brick historic hotel

Daimaru Hotel built 1905, acquired 2015
Low-income housing, commercial space

And, in a time where most historic communities face erasure, LTSC continues to restore the neighborhood’s historic boundaries.

Earlier this year, Go For Broke National Education Center and LTSC broke ground on GFB Plaza and FSN Residences. In place of a parking lot that once erased part of Little Tokyo, this project will relink pedestrian access across cultural landmarks like Union Center for the Arts, the Go For Broke Monument, the Japanese American National Museum, and First Street North. The concept for the land first began in the 2013 community visioning effort “Sustainable Little Tokyo,” currently led by JACCC, Little Tokyo Community Council, LTSC, and the Japanese American National Museum.

a plaza at sunset with black and white walls

The completion of the Terasaki Budokan in 2021 marked an important milestone for the Little Tokyo community, bringing 25 years of planning and fundraising to fruition for a recreation center of our own.

Especially as we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month this May, we feel deep pride in our community’s fortitude and endless gratitude for our supporters (yes, you!) who make our important work possible.

In your feelings about Little Tokyo? Watch community legend Mike Murase’s walking tour of Little Tokyo!

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