A plaque at the monument reads: “The village had 10 shanties, drying racks and salting tanks. At the shore was a shipbuilding facility where Chinese junks were constructed in traditional design from China.”
The Sun Yun Lee, depicted in the center of the monument, was considered to be the finest junk built in all of California and was launched from the site in 1884. It was built of redwood, with masts and rudders made of ironwood brought from China.
The Sun Yun Lee and other junks were sailed south along the Baja California coast to gather abalone. The fresh fish needs of San Diego were supplied by the Chinese. There was another Chinese village at the foot of Third Avenue near Chinatown in downtown San Diego, where the abalone junks were anchored. Local merchants shipped marine products out of the Pacific Mail and Steamship Wharf at Fifth Avenue.
By the early 1890s, the industry had to be abandoned because of the Chinese exclusion laws. The new monument commemorates the significant pioneer contributions of the 19th century Chinese fishing and shipbuilding community of San Diego.
The monument consists of several massive boulders surrounding a centerpiece featuring the Sun Yun Lee. It includes a bench where visitors can enjoy a view of the bay, meet friends or rest and relax after a walk along the bay. It has taken several years of planning, fundraising and ensuring broad support for the project to reach the point of completion.
Klonie Kunzel, president of the La Playa Trail Association, will preside over the dedication ceremony at 5 p.m. Murray Lee, one of the principal board members behind the monument project, has planned a dedication ceremony complete with Chinese lion dancers.
Lee is a prominent historian and curator of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, and recently authored the book In Search of Gold Mountain, A History of the Chinese in San Diego.
The La Playa Trail Association was formed in 2005 with a goal of preserving, restoring, enhancing, promoting, commemorating and educating the public about the La Playa Trail and the associated historic sites located between Ballast Point and the north side of Presidio Park.
The trail is the oldest European trail along the Pacific Coast and was in use prior to that by the native Kumeyaay. Helen Hunt Jackson once remarked that the road to the lighthouse — the La Playa Trail — was the most beautiful drive in America.
For more information about the marker, visit www.laplayatrail.org, email patti.adams@SothebysRealty.com or call (619) 887-9313.