History

Chinatown in San Francisco before the earthquake of 1906

Between 1839 and 1860, due to the ongoing opium wars, many Chinese in search of a better life left for the United States, attracted by the California gold rush and the opportunity to work on the transcontinental railroad.

1. Settling in cities along the West coast of the United States, Chinese immigrants formed communities that became known as Chinatowns. These places of compact settlements made it easier for the Chinese the process of assimilation in a new country. Many of them still exist as a cultural and commercial centers and historical places. (1900)

2. Life in the Chinese quarters of San Francisco was well documented by photographer Arnold Williams (Arnold Genthe), who moved from Germany to San Francisco to work as a tutor in a wealthy German family. When his term of contract expired, he remained in San Francisco and opened a photographic Studio.

3. Ghent was fascinated by China town and took hundreds of pictures of these neighborhoods and their residents. When filming he used a small camera that sometimes allowed him to shoot quickly.

4. These images of Chinese quarters are one of the few that have survived after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco. The disaster they experienced, being in a Bank vault.

5. After the earthquake, the photographer has rebuilt his Studio and continued to work in San Francisco and the district until 1911, when he moved to new York.

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