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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Chinatown: 1900

Chinatown: 1900

San Francisco circa 1900. "Chinatown. The street of the gamblers at night." Nitrate transparency by Arnold Genthe. View full size.

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literal translation of the Chinese characters:

The top two characters:
call to wealth

The bottom four characters:
welcome the god of wealth

These are common decorations (lucky charms) for the entrance of a business.

Great site btw!

Ross Alley

Good photo. "The street of the gamblers" is formally known as Ross Alley, which runs from Sacramento Street to Washington Street, between Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. It is still a busy place, and it contains a wonderful fortune cookie factory.

Joe Thompson

Mirror image

Just letting you know, the image has been flipped. you can tell by looking at the Chinese characters in the current top left and bottom right corners.

[Thanks. I have flipped it around. What do they say? - Dave]

Throwing Heaven and Nine

A dice game popular with Chinese immigrants around this time was called "throwing heaven and nine" or "chak tin kau." The game was played with two dice, with the different combinations divided into two suits. Players wager that the shooter will not throw the highest combinations. Rules can be found in the Archives of the University of Waterloo Museum of Games.

"Teneha, Timpson, Bobo & Blair!"

Goober Pea

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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