Site of the former Chinatown

 

In 1893 America experienced a severe depression fueled by international economic problems. Unemployment soared, reaching as much as 40% in some parts of the country. The vineyards and orchards around Fresno had employed Chinese laborers to harvest grapes and fruit for several years, but by the summer of 1893 there were hundreds of unemployed white workers who now wanted the fruit picking jobs they'd previously turned down.

 

In early August of that year white mobs began raiding the vineyards in order to drive the Chinese workers away. The  Fresno Evening Expositor of August 18th reported that the Chinese camps at several vineyards were attacked and at one the mob "beat 16 of the Chinamen so severly that they had to be hauled to town, and one was pummeled with a singletree till he is now in the hospital and is nearly certain to die."

 

Although the Sheriff and a posse tried to stop the raids they continued for several days. By the end of the week many of the Chinese laborers left the area for the relative safety of San Francisco.

 

Later in the month three bombs went off in Fresno's Chinatown, but no one was injured in the blasts. The newspaper reported that the attack was most likely caused by "troubles and quarrels" among the remaining Chinese and was not thought to be the work of anti-Chinese forces.

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Sources: McDannold, Pfaelzer, Sandmeyer, Shumsky, local newspapers

About this site: The 1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Fresno showed a large Chinatown in the area between F & G Streets on either side of Tulare Street. The street names have not changed since that time. Almost all of the buildings that remained of Fresno's old Chinatown were leveled during the past 25 years. As of April, 2015, old banners proclaimimng "Historic Chinatown" still hung from light posts around the now vacant lots.

Fresno

© 2017 Tim Greyhavens. All rights reserved.

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