In 1848, three Chinese immigrants – two men and one woman – made San Francisco their home, starting what would soon become the largest Chinese settlement in the United States: San Francisco’s Chinatown.
On Friday, January 31, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated, ringing in the Year of the Horse. In San Francisco, the Chinese New Year festivals and parade date to 1860 and are now part of the largest Asian event in North America. The parade culminates with the appearance of the Golden Dragon, which is over 201 feet long and will be accompanied by over 600,000 firecrackers. It sounds like a fantastic display, and as much as I love my central Ohio home, I’d love to go!
Sadly, I can’t travel to San Francisco right now, but I can get a little glimpse of this extraordinary place – or, at least, a late 19th century glimpse – through Ten Drawings in Chinatown, which includes the reminiscences of Robert Howe Fletcher and the art of Ernest Peixotto. Fletcher describes a visit filled with color and excitement and a little bit of danger mixed in. Peixotto’s illustrations of Fletcher’s anecdotes are rendered as engravings and, while only printed as two-color images, are rich in detail. As a native San Franciscan, Peixotto was likely very familiar with his subject and knew exactly which images would best capture Chinatown.
We have digitized this title and are providing it as a book in its entirety and also with each individual drawing posted separately. We know it can’t transport you to San Francisco, but we hope it will help you feel a little closer to the fun and excitement that is Chinatown!
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!