Chinatown before the Quake


March/April 2016

Trenches San Francisco Sewing MachineFrenzied development in San Francisco is introducing the city’s real estate and tech booms to its industrial and mercantile history. The $1.6 billion Central Subway project, which will connect Chinatown and the booming South of Market district by light rail, unearthed the latest finds: 10 late nineteenth-century industrial sewing machines, and pieces of several more, from what is thought to have been a basement room in Chinatown. The building, at 1018 Stockton Street, was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, along with the rest of the city’s original Chinatown, and archaeological remains of the neighborhood are vanishingly rare, according to Adrian Praetzellis, an archaeologist at Sonoma State University. It is hoped that archives can help connect these ornate machines with the names of the men who might have used them.