“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Astoria in Clatsop County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

Crossroads of Cultures

Crossroads of Cultures Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 9, 2015
1. Crossroads of Cultures Marker
This area was once the crossroads of several cultures in Astoria. Along the waterfront to the east and west were over 20 canneries with their hordes of workers, many of them Chinese. After 12 to 16 hours of hard work, the Chinese went home to crowded boarding houses along Astor and Bond Streets. Chinese grocery stores and laundries emitting the exotic smells, sounds, and aura of a country far away dotted these streets. Intermingled with them were the saloons, gambling houses, and brothels with their red lights and "shanghai" doors. To the west were the boarding houses of the Finnish fishermen and farther to the south were the comfortable homes of-the town's wealthier citizens.

Chinese immigrants with their families, ran grocery stores catering to the culinary needs of their countrymen and providing various imported items for the citizens of Astoria. These families prospered and became leaders in the community. Chinatown no longer exists but the descendants of the people who once populated the area are an integral part of the community and play an important role in Astoria's continuing history. Names such as Lum, Law, and Chan can still be found among the prominent people in Astoria today.

In 2001, just one block south of this site, a construction excavation unearthed a part of Astoria's
Marker detail: Chinese Cannery Workers image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 9, 2015
2. Marker detail: Chinese Cannery Workers
colorful past. They found pieces of tobacco and opium pipes, medicine bottles, and a Chinese teapot. These items had been buried since the Astoria fire of 1922 that destroyed the business district as well as parts of Chinatown and the "Swilltown" saloon district.
Location. 46° 11.433′ N, 123° 50.012′ W. Marker is in Astoria, Oregon, in Clatsop County. Marker is at the intersection of Astor Street and 9th Street, on the left when traveling east on Astor Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 940 Astor Street, Astoria OR 97103, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harvesting River & Sea (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); At Play on the River (about 700 feet away); Captain George Flavel Mansion (approx. 0.2 miles away); Captain Flavel Trees (approx. 0.2 miles away); Astoria & Warrenton (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pilots on the Columbia River (approx. ¼ mile away); Columbia River Tugs And Towboats (approx. ¼ mile away); 14th Street Ferry Slip (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Astoria.
Also see . . .
1. Chinese Workers in Astoria Cannery.
Chinese immigrants first began working as Columbia River cannery laborers in 1872 and quickly dominated the work force. They endured decades of prejudice and exploitation, marked especially by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion
Marker detail: Lum Quing Grocery Interior image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 9, 2015
3. Marker detail: Lum Quing Grocery Interior
Act (1882) and the establishment of the contract labor system in the 1890s. Beginning in 1905 Columbia River cannery owners replaced Chinese labor with Smith Butchering Machines, sometimes called “Iron Chinks.” Each of these machines cut, gutted, and cleaned salmon at a rate comparable to the work of 30 to 40 skilled workers. As the century wore on, and the number of canneries diminished, fewer and fewer Chinese were hired from the increasingly competitive labor pool. (Submitted on January 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Chinese Cannery Workers near Astoria, Oregon.
Beginning in the 1870s, Columbia River canneries employed mostly Chinese laborers to clean, chop, can, and cook salmon. An 1880 Clatsop County, Oregon, census, taken at the peak of salmon season, showed that out of a total population of 7,055 people, 2,045 were Chinese. During the 1890s, Chinese contractors hired, fed, housed, and paid laborers for cannery companies but provided workers low wages, substandard housing, and poor food. Chinese people were excluded from fishing jobs, which were held primarily by Euro-American immigrants. (Submitted on January 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Oregon History: Chinese-Americans.
Willing to endure cannery work, Chinese men by the 1870s had acquired a near monopoly of work in canneries from Astoria to The Dalles. They gutted the fish, operated the steam pressure cookers, fastened the labels, and prepared tons of cases for shipment to a world market. They labored at nearly 40 canneries lining the shores of the Columbia for low wages and compulsory residency in company dormitories. (Submitted on January 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Categories. Asian AmericansDisastersIndustry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on January 22, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 67 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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