Chinatown - International District, a neighborhood nestled south
of downtown, is the cultural hub of the Asian American community.
It rose not far from the waterfront, on reclaimed tide flats.
During a gigantic city regarding project, the Jackson Street
Regrade, completed in 1910, this muddy wasteland was filled in
with earth, buildings were erected and the Chinatown –
International District was born.
Chinatown;-The First Settlers
Chinese man to settle in Seattle may have been Chin Chun Hock.
Arriving in 1860 he was employed as a domestic worker. By 1868
Chin Hock had founded a general merchandising store, The Wa Chong
Co., at the foot of Mill Street. Partners in Wa Chong were Woo Gen
and Chin Gee Hee. Wa Chong advertised itself as a manufacturer of
cigars, sugar, tea, rice and opium. It was also a major importer
and distributor of fireworks together with the Hitt Firework Co.
Chen Cheong may have been the first Chinese immigrant to establish
a business. He began manufacturing and selling cigars in 1867 from
his contracting business, established 1865 on Commercial St.
(First Ave.) across from Schwabacher Bros.
Wa Chong was also a labor contractor, acting as the middleman
between Chinese immigrants canneries, lumber mills and farms and
for labor on city projects such as the regr looking for work and
various industries employing them: railroads, mines,ades.
Originally located in a row of commercial shops on Mill Street,
the Wa Chong Co. was by 1876 in a brick building at the corner of
Third and Washington Streets.
First Chinatown in Seattle
Chong was also a dealer in opium and was issued a special stamp by
the U.S. Customs to put on their opium manufactured in Seattle.
Other Chinese merchants followed Wa Chong's move to Second Ave. and
this area became the first Chinatown. Among the most prominent were
Eng Ah Kingand his King Cheong Lung Co.; Woo Gen; Chin Bug Kee and
his On Tai Company and ChinGee Hee who founded the Quong Tuck Co.
Chin Gee Hee and the Quong Tuck Co. sold general merchandise, and
acted as the general agent for all of the trans-Pacific steamship
companies. There was a direct route to China from Seattle
established in 1874. Chin was a labor contractor for railroad labor
and went back to his home district of Toisan in southern China in
1905 and established one of the first railroads there, the Sun-Ning
China to Port Gamble
Chin Gee Hee,
also know as Chang Ting was born in Long Mei of Luk Choon village
in Toisan district of Kuangtung province in the 24th year of Tao
Kuang, 1844. As he was delivering his father's recent production
of soy sauce to a local market, Chin met a man named Hung Bok.
Hung told Chin he could take him to America. Traveling together
they arrived in Port Gamble, Washington.
Within a short time Chin, working in a lumber mill, had learned
some English and had established a rapport with the Suquamish
Indians, especially the family of Chief Sealth. He was also able
to bring over a wife, who was employed as a cook at the mill
cookhouse. Through his friendship with Henry Yesler, Chin was
pursuaded to move to Seattle in 1873. There he met Chin Ching Hock
who invited him to become a junior partner in a labor contracting
First Chinese Americans
1875, Chin and his wife had a son, Chin Lem also known as Tew Dong,
possibly the first Chinese American born in Washington state. Ah
King, also known by his married name of Hock Moy, was born in Hoi
Ping, China in 1863. He came to the U.S. in 1877, landing in San
Francisco but soon moved to the Pacific Northwest to work in the
logging camps. Saving his money, Ah King came to Seattle in 1897 and
opened a restaurant. In 1906 he founded the Ah King Company also
known as the King Chong Lung Company.
Ah King was known variously as the "Mayor" or "King
of Chinatown." Generous with his wealth he subsidized many
through school. He sponsored the "Chinese Village"
pavilion at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in
the summer of 1909. In 1908 he traveled to China to select Chinese
curios and goods for the exhibit. He did this on his own to ensure
that his country was represented at the exposition. King Chong Lung
Co. sold general merchandise, imported goods for wholesale and
contracted labor to fish canneries. By the time he died in 1915 he
operated six canneries in Alaska, owned his store property at 317
Washington St. and had other real estate holdings valued at $60,000.
His death in Sacramento in 1915 may have been a suicide but there
was suspicion of murder. His son Yock Fong, known here as Albert
King, inherited most of Ah King's property. He arrived here after
his father's death and took over the business
It is perhaps the only area in the continental United States where
Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, African Americans, Vietnamese,
Koreans, and Cambodians, settled together and built one
neighborhood. In the beginning, sojourners from Asia – mostly
single men – came by steamship and rail into the new port city,
seeking refuge from pverty and war. They crowded into hotels,
storefronts and employment halls which emerged near the railroad
station and waterfront. These men came when the city was young to
work in the canneries, railroads, and mines.
Many worked in the businesses which grew up around these enterprises
– laundries, hotels, restaurants, stores and gambling houses. They
lived frugally, finding comfort in familiar surroundings shrouded
from the harsh discrimination outside. Those that decided to stay
brought wives, children and relatives to live with them..
Source :- come from Wing
Luke Museum, If you want to know more, please go to http://www.wingluke.org/