Despite these restrictive laws, by 1905, San Francisco’s Chinatown had grown to house 40,000 in a district that was demarcated from Sacramento to Pacific Avenue and from Kearny to Stockton Streets. Grant Avenue (at Bush Street) is one of the oldest streets in Chinatown. In the 1880s, known as Du Pont Street, it was part of the Barbary Coast trail with opium dens, sing-sing girls, gambling, and Tong wars. After the 1906 earthquake, the street’s image was cleaned up and given a new name to honor President Ulysses S. Grant; however, older members of the Chinese community might refer to the street as “Du Pon Gai.”
Chinatown has helped the Chinese maintain their cultural practices and native language while living in a foreign environment that often barred them from schools, jobs, and neighborhoods. Until 1948, California law prohibited the intermarriage of Chinese and whites. Despite such actions to keep the Chinese people segregated from mainstream white society, in the 1930s, with the economic Depression, tourism was encouraged to supply needed income to the restaurants and businesses in Chinatown. San Franciscans were drawn to this enclave because it was viewed as exotic. For Frida, Chinatown felt more like home.
The main source for this information came from Iris Chang's The Chinese in America.
© Celia S. Stahr 2014