More than any other part of Central City, Waite Park is a melting pot of hasty zoning. Commerce drove the development of Waite Park, and the apartment complexes, condos, and hastily constructed prefab homes were built to house employees of the service industry. Waite Park is a commercial veneer covering the restless self-absorption of a rapidly growing servant class.
History of Waite Park
The Hollywood Square began as a collection of restaurants, bars, two theaters, and a movie house, all built between 1932 and 1950. During the fifties, several appliance stores, furniture stores, and department stores opened in the area, and downtown Waite Park served as a family-friendly shopping destination with entertainment. In the late sixties, Ridgewood Mall opened on the other side of Korea Town, and the shopping relocated. In the eighties, a multiplex opened near Ridgewood Mall, and eventually put the old movie house out of business. The Hollywood Square, already by 1970, had begun to be a place for night life. As stores closed and moved to the mall, nightclubs and dinner clubs opened. People headed to The Hollywood Square for dinner, a show, and dancing, three blocks of discotheques, bars, nightclubs, dinner theaters, music venues, and theaters.
West of Hill Avenue and a few blocks north of Roosevelt, Korea Town began in the late forties as refugees from the Korean War moved into the neighborhood. Families opened businesses to maintain some of the flavor of home, and the area became known as Korea Town. The Vietnamese, fleeing a protracted war in their own country, moved into Waite Park and soon outnumbered the Korean community, bringing a distinct flavor to the neighborhood. Korea Town, nonetheless, maintained the most insularity of any immigrant community anywhere in the city. As Little Italy, St. Patrick’s, and even the recently arrived Vietnamese community mixed and blended with the ambiguously ethnic nature of American society and culture, the Korean community maintained its sense of self and other.