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STREET SCENES : TEMPLE CITY

Taipei meets U.S.A.

Noodle houses, Asian bridal boutiques and old-school barbershops are comfortable neighbors in this San Gabriel Valley city, just 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

August 11, 2008|David Pierson

A pearly gazebo next to City Hall sits atop a pristine lawn along a stretch of Las Tunas Drive dotted with quaint mom-and-pop businesses, noodle houses and Asian bridal stores.

Mayberry meets Taipei here in Temple City, a sleepy suburb of 33,000 in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Like its neighbors Alhambra, Rosemead, Arcadia and San Gabriel, the city has been transformed in the last two decades by an influx of ethnic Chinese immigrants.

The community that was once mostly white and Latino is now nearly 40% Asian. The diversity is ever apparent. A boba tea shop stands next door to Masors Barber Shop, a throwback to another era with its vintage chairs and straight-razor shaves.

Summer concerts every Wednesday evening at the city's main park evoke Main Street U.S.A., with revelers waving small flags. The park is also used for practitioners of tai chi, a graceful Chinese martial art favored by seniors.

What brings the different cultures together, residents say, is a shared desire to raise families in the city's peaceful environs -- single-family homes shaded by thick trees, unspoiled by the mini-mansions that crowd adjacent communities.

"Everyone comes for the schools and the homes," said Herbert Chan of the city's Chamber of Commerce. "It's safe and quiet."

-- David Pierson

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