Contemporary accounts of San Francisco’s Chinatown viewed it through the prism of prevailing racial stereotypes; at best Chinatown was an “interesting spectacle” and at worst it was an overcrowded den of iniquity. The text by writer Will Irwin that accompanied Bailey’s drawing reflects both of these sentiments. “Every tourist felt bound to see the Quarter. Guiding tourists was an industry; but the guide showed only a circus performance.” On the other hand, Chinatown’s “highbinder wars kept the police busy.”
“San Francisco Chinatown 1906.” Photo by Chicago Daily News, via Wikimedia Commons
With its older, alley-lining buildings, most of Chinatown was destroyed by the combination of the earthquake and fires.
There was talk after the earthquake of relocating Chinatown elsewhere, given its proximity to business areas. Thanks in part to lobbying efforts by neighborhood Benevolent Associations, Chinatown was rebuilt in place, where it continues today as an ethnic neighborhood and commercial district.