Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't Turn There! That's Wong Way!

Source: Press-Enterprise

Riverside officials have righted what many believe is a decades-old wrong.

For 48 years, "Wong Way" was the name on a short connector street near downtown Riverside.

Now, it is "Wong Street."

Regardless of whether it's way or street, the block is still named after the late George Wong, the last resident of Riverside's former Chinatown. Wong was believed to be 90 or older when he died in 1974, a holdout who never moved from his longtime home.

The former street name, unanimously approved by the Riverside City Council in 1961, appeared to be more of a joke than an honor, said current Riverside City Councilman Mike Gardner, who requested the street name change.

The former street name appeared to imply a "wrong way" while also disparaging Chinese immigrants with limited English skills, Gardner said. The double-entendre wasn't always appreciated.

"It's insensitive and it's a bad joke," said Jean Wong, a member of a citizen group opposed to development of the Chinatown site about block or two from Wong Street. She is not related to George Wong.

Gardner said he had met George Wong shortly before he died and had long thought the old street name didn't show proper respect.

"I wanted to go back and correct the insult," Gardner said.

A search of Google maps turned up four other streets named Wong Way -- in San Jose and San Bruno; in Bristol, Mass.; and New Brunswick, Canada.

I wonder if these street will have to be corrected as well. Since 1961 eh? Takes that long for people to change a frigging street name?

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