Chinatown: Before the Earthquake (2)

Postcards on this page show Chinatown before the 1906 earthquake and fire.



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Left: Goeggel & Weidner 21, embossed; dated 4/25/1903. Next: Britton & Rey 454, postmarked SF 5/12/1904. At first glance the two cards at left look like the same image, but closer inspection reveals multiple differences: position of boy at left relative to wall behind him, position of girl (at center vs. at right), shadow under figures in Britton & Rey, man walking away from camera in Weidner. The Britton card uses a Weidner photo printed in Railroad Trainmen's Journal (V. 19 #1, Jan. 1902), slightly different than Weidner 21, obviously both photos were taken at almost the same time. I think the image looks south on Washington Place ("Fish Alley", now Wentworth Place) toward Washington.

Next: Unknown publisher, postmarked Lisbon N.H. 8/03/1910. This post-quake b+w composite card displays two pre-quake Chinatown photos (both by Weidner, I believe) as seen on the other cards above. The composite awkwardly truncates a caption "Street in Chinatown" at the bottom edge of the left-hand photo and includes a lantern over the alley, absent in Britton & Rey 454. It looks like many b+w cards produced quickly right after the quake, but this example was mailed four years later.

Right: Britton & Rey 456, postmarked SF 3/29/1904. A pre-quake Arnold Genthe photo shows the same restaurant. Genthe's caption for the photo is "Before the Big Joss House" in Pictures of Old Chinatown (1908), changed to "The Street of Painted Balconies" in Old Chinatown, A Book of Pictures (1913). Tchen's Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown (1984, plate 33) gives the restaurant name and location as Yoot Hong Low on the north side of Clay just above Dupont. A variant of this card postmarked 7/20/1906 has the caption "Dupont and Washington Streets, Chinatown, showing a Chinese Restaurant", but that location is wrong (see 1905 Sanborn).



Steve's SF postcard pages: