Sunday 21st January 2018,


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KQED: Under the Ashes, The Forgotten Chinatown

posted by Randall


Forgotten Chinatown

It’s a visible demonstration of this country’s racist past. An entire Chinese community burned down in an environment of anti-Chinese hysteria.

It happened in San Jose’s Market Street in 1887. It was a part of history forgotten–until a construction crew in 1980 stumbled upon artifacts from that destructive fire.  Today those ashes have risen in a new exhibition literally pieced together by Stanford University–City Beneath The City, reports KQED.

It combines art with archeology and gives visitors a glimpse at the lives of the people in Chinatown that has been buried for nearly a century.

Arson destroyed the city’s Market Street Chinatown in 1887.  An exhibit of fragments from San Jose’s Chinatown is giving visitors a look at the lives of a community that’s been buried for nearly a century.

Stanford Associate Professor of Anthropology Barbara Voss says not a lot is known about the history of the community.  Because it was destroyed by fire, in an environment of anti-Chinese hostility, very few written records remain.

Stanford Associate Professor Barbara Voss says that, “what the artifacts provide is a glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who lived there.  What they had for dinner, the dishes they used in their home, the clothes they wore, the buttons on their suit coats.  It provides this little tangible link.”

In all 400 boxes of artifacts have been unearth.

“These are the day to day rice bowls,” artist Rene Yung says, “and there were so many fragments of this. And rather than showing the beautiful perfect pieces, what I’m interested in is the broken ones that tell this history. This was an act of destruction of people’s lives.”

City Beneath the City is at the Stanford Archeology Center through April 30th.

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