March 31, 1943

Wednesday – Arrival

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Click through the icons to follow Madame Chiang Kai-shk’s first day in Los Angeles, or see below.

Itinerary:

1. Arrival at Los Angeles Union Station

Madame Chiang Kai-shek and her entourage arrive at Los Angeles Union Station after a visit to San Francisco.[1] Ironically, the railroad stop was built over Los Angeles’ original Chinatown, whose inhabitants were forced to give up their homes and livelihoods and relocate.

Mayor Bowron and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in car. Copyright Los Angeles Public Library - Harry Quillen Collection. All Rights Reserved.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek on her way to City Hall from Union Station.

2. Welcoming Ceremony at City Hall

She is then escorted to City Hall, where China’s flag is raised in honor of her presence in the Southland. Mayor Bowron proclaims it “Madame Chiang Kai-shek Day” in Los Angeles.[2]

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek arrives at City Hall, Los Angeles (Calif.). Copyright UC Regents – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. All Rights Reserved.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek exits her car and approaches the steps of City Hall, where Mayor Bowron is waiting to welcome her.

3. Parade through Downtown Los Angeles

Madame Chiang Kai-shek, a bit under the weather, now enters a limousine in order to participate in the parade the city has organized in her honor. The 1.7-mile tour is accompanied by marching bands and various military units. Thousands throng the streets to watch her pass.

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in car. Copyright Los Angeles Public Library - Harry Quillen Collection. All Rights Reserved.

The limousine is closed because of Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s cold.

Parade for Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Copyright Los Angeles Public Library - Harry Quillen Collection. All Rights Reserved.

A shot of the parade and its many onlookers.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek in downtown Los Angeles (Calif.). Copyright UC Regents – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. All Rights Reserved.

This picture was taken on South Broadway. The facade of the Roxie Theater on the right side of the picture still stands today.

4. Rally in (Old) Chinatown

Though not mentioned in the print media of the day, photographs place Madame Chiang Kai-shek at a rally in (Old) Chinatown following the parade, an interesting choice of location, given that a street was named after her in (New) Chinatown. She is presumably the keynote speaker.

Chinese American Girl Scouts. Copyright Los Angeles Public Library - Harry Quillen Collection. All Rights Reserved.

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek’s visit to Chinatown is honored by the Troop 415 Color Guard of the Chinese American Girl Scouts.

Rally for Madame Chiang Kai-shek in Chinatown, Los Angeles (Calif.). Copyright UC Regents – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. All Rights Reserved.

A view of the crowd that came to watch the Madame speak. Members of community organizations like the Los Angeles Chinese Women’s New Life Movement Society and the American Women’s Voluntary Service were in attendance.

Rally for Madame Chiang Kai-shek in Chinatown, Los Angeles (Calif.). Copyright UC Regents – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. All Rights Reserved.

A shot of the stage and podium itself. Subtle visual clues found in this picture indicate that the rally was held in front of the Garnier Building, an hub for Chinese American cultural and business activity at the time. The building still stands today, and houses the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles.

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek speaks at a rally in Chinatown, Los Angeles (Calif.). Copyright UC Regents – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. All Rights Reserved.

A closeup of Madame Chiang Kai-shek speaking at the podium. Policemen ring the stage to prevent autograph-seekers from reaching the First Lady of China, a precaution taken throughout the trip in deference to the Madame’s weak physical state.

5. Accommodations at the Ambassador

Still fighting a cold and a sore throat, Madame Chiang Kai-shek finishes the day by settling in at the posh Ambassador Hotel. Her suite has been meticulously prepared in anticipation of her arrival, highlighted by a custom-built kitchenette for use by her private Chinese chef. Silverware, furniture, and art, including a painting of her husband, have all been specially borrowed and installed for her comfort. All in all, the Madame’s party occupies upwards of 50 rooms in the hotel! [3]


[1] “Mme. Chiang Kai-shek Arrives to Take City by Charm,” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1943.

[2] “Civic Center Throng Hears China’s First Lady,” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1943.

[3] Fox, Christy, “Miracle in Homemaking,” Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1943.

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