Chinese Gold : The Hidden History of Chinese in The Bay with Sandy Lydon in Conversation with George Ow (《中国金》:蒙特雷湾区的中国人 -- 与作者对谈)

November 18, 2023
  • Did you know that Chinese immigrants initially arrived in the Bay Area during the mid-19th century, but had to wait a full century to be recognized as normal US citizens?

  • Did you know that Santa Cruz once had five distinct Chinatowns, and today, none of them exist?

  • Did you know that the hidden history of Chinese immigrants in Monterey Bay, even unfamiliar to most Chinese Americans nowadays, was uncovered by a non-Chinese author’s award-winning book?

Join us in exploring the history of Monterey Bay Chinese Americans, with Sandy Lydon, the author of award-winning Chinese Gold; George Ow, one of the last residents of Santa Cruz’s final Chinatown; Rui Li, an educator and founder of Flex Kids Culture; and Haoze Li, a UCSC linguist interested in the language of heritage Chinese bilinguals. They will unveil this history through compelling conversations and multimedia exhibitions hosted by ValleyRain and Flex Kids Culture.

谷雨书苑联合Flex Kids Culture邀请您一起探索蒙特雷湾华裔美国人的一段不为人知的历史,与描述这段历史的获奖畅销书《中国金》的作者Sandy Lydon、Santa Cruz曾经的唐人街的居民George Ow、Flex Kids Culture创始人Rui Li和UCSC语言学家Haoze Li一同交流。他们将通过引人入胜的对话和多媒体展览来展现这段尘封的华人移民血泪史。

English/Chinese version of the book will be available for purchase on site and online at

Date and Time

Saturday, November 18, 2023

2:30pm - 4:30pm


Shenzhen Bay Innovation Center

3120 Scott Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Get Free Tickets

The Author: Sandy Lydon

Sandy is Historian Emeritus at Cabrillo College where he taught Asian and Asian American History beginning in 1968. He was a Fulbright scholar at the East-West Center, Honolulu where he studied East Asian History and Japanese. He made his first visit to Japan in 1966 on a State Department scholarship, and led his first group to Japan in 1974. Since then he has led groups to China, Mongolia, Siberia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Ireland and the United Kingdom. He has written widely on the history of Asian immigrants to the Monterey Bay Region including the award-winning Chinese Gold, and the Japanese in the Monterey Bay Region.

According to Sandy Lydon, in Chinese Gold, if we look diligently, however, we will indeed find their marks indelibly etched in these seaside towns: “Though the Chinese are not explicitly mentioned in the local and regional histories, if you hold each page to the light you can make out a faint pattern. The longer you look, the stronger the pattern becomes. The Chinese are in the very paper, they are the watermark.”

The Author Sandy Lydon

About The Book

Bending to back-breaking work in the fields, on the water, and in service to rail lines, Chinese immigrants to the Monterey Bay area poured sweat and ingenuity into the industries that drove nineteenth-century economic growth: fishing, agriculture, and railways. And yet, ask a passerby in downtown Santa Cruz about the location of a historic Chinatown, and you will likely be met with a blank stare.

“Few people realize that bustling Chinatowns once thrived in Monterey, Watsonville, Santa Cruz, and Salinas. Just as few realize that were it not for the Chinese, the region’s tourist industry and phenomenally productive agriculture might never have been. This first-ever study of the Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region traces their history from the arrival of the first fishing people in the 1850s to the contributions of present-day leaders in the community. In recovering a history made invisible by neglect and prejudice, Chinese Gold sheds light on the whole of Chinese experience in America, revealing the proud saga of a resourceful, inventive, and courageous people who pursued the American dream against incredible odds” – Provided by publisher.

In fact, 98 Chinese lived in the towns and villages that dotted this coastal crescent in 1880. They built homes, developed businesses and set down roots – their descendants are today among the most prominent and prosperous of local families. Yet, their stories are largely untold. Dancing between distrust of government agencies and fear of common prejudice, many chose to live as quietly and anonymously as possible. In an era marked by such catastrophic policy as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, passing unnoticed afforded them some personal and economic protection. Obscurity was both a survival mechanism and also an unfortunate result of a socially marginalized existence. Bending, but not breaking, they worked, they raised families, and they built communities but in most cases, they left barely a trace.

Santa Cruz Dragon Gate with George Ow

Learn More

  • About Sandy Lydon:

  • About George Ow:

  • About Rui Li and Flex Kids Culture:

  • About Haoze Li:

  • About Santa Cruz Chinatown:

About Us

ValleyRain International, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural organization, was founded in March 2015 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We were founded with the mission of building a bridge between Aisa and North America cultures.

To date, we have hosted upwards of 500 cultural events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas,Beijing, and Shanghai, among other cities. At these events, we gather leading voices in the field to engage in dialogue and share knowledge.


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