Sunday, June 21, 2009
Pacific Grove recognizes a Chinese heritage, but that was basically a “Chinatown” fishing settlement that burned down in 1906 when the land owner wanted to convert the property to oceanfront villas. “Chinatown” was at Point Alones, which now holds Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Chinese fishermen who moved there in the 1850s and ‘60s built wooden shanties in a one-street village that eventually caught as much as 100 tons of squid a year, which was dried on their rooftops and racks that stretched to Lovers Point. The stench was a major concern when the Pacific Improvement Company wanted to subdivide and sell the 30 acres leased to the Chinese. The tenants refused to leave. In May 1906, on a night many of the Chinese were away watching their children graduate from Pacific Grove schools, an explosive fire believed started by coal oil swept through “Chinatown” and the Pacific Grove Volunteer Fire Department found the only hose they brought to fight the fire was slashed and unusable. The next day the property owner put a fence around the area and hired guards to keep the Chinese from rebuilding. Some of the inhabitants from PG"s Chinatown had fled the San Francisco earthquake disaster just weeks before.
Photo: Chinatown procession along Ocean View Boulevard in 1905. Credit:Pacific Grove Museum.