Vol 120 (2007): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society
Ornamental, Garden & Landscape

Experiencing sense of place of cultural landscapes: a suburban-strip Chinatown case study

Yun Cao
PBS&J, Planning and Landscaping Division
Published December 1, 2007
  • landscape architecture,
  • survey questionnaire,
  • ethnic motifs,
  • designed landscapes,
  • cultural identity


Important cultural landscapes in the United States like Chinatowns are undergoing transformations as a result of the increasing threat of indiscriminate residential and commercial development. To suburban-strip Chinatowns, this threat is compounded by the lack of knowledge and understanding of the public's perception of the cultural, social, and economic role they play for nearby Chinese residents as well as the families and individuals living hundreds of miles away. A survey questionnaire was developed to elicit respondents' perceptions of two suburban-strip Chinatowns and sought to identify ways in which suburban-strip Chinatowns can become more viable in terms of cultural authenticity with a result of increased tourism, economic impact, and sense of place. The results suggest that built landscapes that include cultural motifs, artifacts, and landscaping provide spaces and facilities for social interaction and education, enhance the identity and sense of place in suburban-strip Chinatowns, and make such strip centers analogous to older Chinatowns in their cultural value to the community. The Florida horticulture industry can benefit from developing suburban-strip Chinatowns that take into account basic landscape elements such as traditional plant materials and themed landscape hardware.