Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chinese Shanties.
S.W. 18th & Salmon (c.1905)

The chronicle of Portland's Chinese immigrant community is a convoluted and, sadly, decidedly grim more often than not. The Middle Kingdom extended roots to Stumptown starting in the 1850s, and grew despite shifting immigration legislation and bigotry to become the second biggest Chinatown on the Pacific Coast, a status it retained until 1900.

For most Chinese, work was circumscribed to hard manual labor. But for a few, somewhat more urban jobs were available: in housework, cooking, laundry-cleaning, gardening and/or selling vegetables. Thus it came that the outskirts of the city were apparently ringed with makeshift dwellings where the Chinese grew vegetables which they sold in the city.

Oregon Historical Society collection.
A Chinese garden and shanties at present-day S.W. Salmon & 18th, c.1905.

These gardeners actually supplied a significant degree of Portlanders with their fresh greens. Vendors would sell them from two large baskets, each suspended from a long pole, which was then slung over a shoulder.


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