A little more than two years ago, the City of San Diego designated a six-block stretch along El Cajon Boulevard as the “Little Saigon Cultural and Commercial District.” And it’s no wonder why. Roughly 70 percent of the businesses along the heavily traveled corridor in the heart of City Heights are owned by Vietnamese-Americans and others with Southeast Asian roots. With a bevy of Vietnamese restaurants, markets and cultural activities, such as the Taste of Little Saigon event and the annual Lantern Festival, Little Saigon continues to thrive.
The Little Saigon designation, which became official in spring 2013, was decades in the making, having evolved from when hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees relocated to the United States after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Many were brought to Camp Pendleton before settling in the region. Today, an estimated 230,000 people of Vietnamese descent live in Southern California. More than 40,000 Vietnamese-Americans live in San Diego, with City Heights acknowledged to be the community’s commercial and cultural hub.