Denver in Denver County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Hop Alley/Chinese Riot of 1880
— Lower Downtown Walking Tour —
During the 1860's, the first Chinese settled in Colorado, drawn here by the completion of the transcontinental railroad as well as by other demands for cheap manual labor. Existing amidst persecution, poverty and wretched living conditions, the Chinese worked mostly in laundries, as house servants and in the mines. The Chinese neighborhood was bounded roughly by Blake and Market, 19th and 22nd Streets, and contained about 500 Chinese. By 1880, the city had 17 known opium dens in this area, where one could "hit the pipe" or "suck the bamboo." "Hop" Alley buildings were said to be connected by tunnels and secret rooms accessible only by trap doors. Hostilities between the Chinese and other immigrants intensified as competition for jobs increased and negative publicity about opium dens filled the local press. On October 31, 1880, in John Asmussen's Saloon, located on the 1600 block of Wazee, an argument broke out between two pool-playing Chinese and some intoxicated whites. When the Chinese slipped out the back door, they were attacked and beaten, beginning Denver's first recorded race riot. About 3,000 people congregated quickly in the area, shouting
By Mark Hilton, July 28, 2016
1. Hop Alley/Chinese Riot of 1880 Marker
By Mark Hilton, July 28, 2016
2. View of marker on building and Hop Alley to left.
Click or scan to see
"Stamp out the yellow plague!" Destruction of the Chinese ghetto ensued. Several white residents show remarkable courage protecting the Chinese: Saloonkeeper James Veatch sheltered refugees, as did gambler Jim Moon and Madam Lizzie Preston, whose girls armed themselves with champagne bottles and high heels to hold the mob at bay. Many were injured, and one Chinese man lost his life. Despite 150 claims totaling over $30,000, no Chinese were ever paid for property and business losses, nor did this dark day end Denver's struggles with the underlying issues of racial prejudice.
this page online
Erected by Lower Downtown Historic District.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Asian Americans • Disasters • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical date for this entry is October 31, 1880.
Location. 39° 45.237′ N, 104° 59.646′ W. Marker is in Denver, Colorado, in Denver County. Marker is at the intersection of 20th Street and Blake Street, on the right when traveling south on 20th Street. Marker is on the 20th Street side of 1962 Blake Street (Blake Street Sports store). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1962 Blake Street, Denver CO 80202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Red Light District Market Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Blake Street Area (within shouting distance of this
marker); The House of Mirrors (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Windsor Farm Dairy Building / The Crocker Cracker Factory (about 500 feet away); Merchandise Mart (about 700 feet away); General Electric Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); 18th St. Atrium / Littleton Creamery Beatrice Cold Storage Warehouse (approx. ¼ mile away); Warehouses (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Denver.
By N.B. Wilkins, 1880
3. Colorado - the anti-Chinese riot in Denver, on October 31st 1880
Wood engraving after sketch by N.B. Wilkins. Title and other information transcribed from caption card. Illustration in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, vol. 51 (1880 Nov. 20), p. 189. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress).
Also see . . . University of Nebraska - Encyclopedia of the Great Plains article on Chinese Riot. (Submitted on July 28, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 25, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 501 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 28, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. 3. submitted on November 25, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.