A Tent Chinatown
Francisco was in flames after the massive 1906 earthquake. Hundreds of
thousands of refugees fled the conflagration--seeking shelter from the
disaster. But the homeless residents of Chinatown could find no place to
Exclusionary laws designed to enforce the segregation of Asian Americans
meant that they could not live outside strictly defined boundaries in
the central cities of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Searching for
safety, they were forced to take the long overland route around the bay
when ferry operators--making emergency escape runs from San
Francisco--denied passage to members of the Asian race.
But here in Oakland, thousands of China-town's homeless were given
refuge in a makeshift tent city at "The Willows," near what is now the
Lake Merritt Boat House. For more than a year after the 1906 disaster,
the waterfront of Oakland housed the largest concentration of
Chinese-speaking people outside of Asia.
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
"Walk Along the Water"
© Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.
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