Forgotten Chinatown In Walla Walla
Did you know that there was once a chinatown in the middle of downtown walla walla?
This weekend only the archaeological institute of america and the fort walla walla museum are offering walking tours of the former chinatown sites.
Did you know that there was once a Chinatown in the middle of downtown Walla Walla?
This weekend only the Archaeological Institute of America and the Fort Walla Walla Museum are offering walking tours of the former Chinatown sites.
Chinese men came to Walla Walla in the 1860’s to be apart of the mining boom in Northwest.
In 1880 about 16%t of Walla Walla’s population was Chinese.
“It was the largest population Eastern Washington at the time,” said Ashley Morton the archelogy program manager with Fort Walla Walla.
The first Chinatown was along second and alder.
It is now the parking lot of Baker Boyer Bank.
“Chinatown was made up of shanties,” said Morton.
This area was destroyed in a fire in 1887 and the Chinatown was rebuilt down the block.
The parking lot behind city hall was the site of the second Chinatown.
“Multi story buildings where businesses were being run on the bottom and residences were at the top,” said Morton.
Then in 1911 what was known as the Chinese Building was built on the corner of 5th and Rose.
“A large indoor market space where sellers had a lot of Chinese merchandise there may have been opium dens but it was largely a place of business,” said Morton.
Businesses such as medicine shops and restaurants, and above it is where about 90% of the Chinese population in Walla Walla lived.
Until 1947 when a non-Chinese business man bought the building and closed off the residential section.
According to Morton that is why we don’t see more of that Chinese population represented in Walla Walla today.
“Some families started moving to larger communities and others had to go back to China,” said Morton.
The purpose of the tour is to highlight Chinese contributions to the community and not forget that important part of Walla Walla’s history.
The tour is this Saturday at 10 A.M. and 1 P.M. starting at the Walla Walla city hall.
It costs $10 for Archaeological Institute of America members and Fort Walla Walla Museum members and $15 for nonmembers.
Participants will receive access to an online an interactive Chinatown map.
Here is more information about the tour and sign up.