After Saigon fell in 1975, Camp Pendleton had the first U.S. reception center for refugees. Families and religious groups in nearby Orange County sponsored a majority of the more than 50,000 refugees, giving them their first taste of American suburbia. Vietnamese-American entrepreneurs from the earliest waves bought undervalued land along Bolsa Avenue in Westminster with the goal of developing shopping centers for Asian consumers. These centers became magnets around which a community coalesced. Today, Little Saigon reaches beyond the commercial and social hub of Westminster into Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, and Santa Ana. More than 184,000 Vietnamese-Americans live in O.C.—the largest such population outside Vietnam.
Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.