HomeChinese AmericanReno accused of whitewashing Chinatown history

Reno accused of whitewashing Chinatown history

In 1878, an angry mob burned down Reno’s Chinatown in Nevada blaming Chinese for stealing their jobs. 30 years later, city officials declared conditions in Chinatown unsanitary, and again burned the neighborhood down.

Now in 2021, a Facebook post from the city meant to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month simply declared the City’s Chinese community was “pressured to relocate.”

That description both shocked and anger Tina Wu, a former member of the Historic Reno Preservation Society. She told the Reno Gazette Journal that the city of Reno of “whitewashing” history.

“You have to start voicing your opinion because that’s how you’re going to be heard,” Wu said about why she chose to speak out.

Others agreed and now the city has revised the original article on Facebook.

“The language that was used was a mistake,” Rebecca Venis, head of Reno’s communication team, told the paper. “It almost did the opposite of what we meant to do … It almost feels like we lost a little trust.”

According to Nevada Magazine, many Chinese who built the Transcontinental Railroad settled in Reno. In 1908, rioters declared them a “physical and moral threat” and set out to destroy the community.

The Workingmen’s Party and the Order of the Caucasians came out of the recession of the 1870s. Tensions erupted when  Lung Chung & Company received a construction contract to build a 33 mile irrigation canal from Reno to Truckee. A fire the next day that ripped through Chinatown was reported as an unfortunate accident.

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