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1892: The Cleanness of Shops in Chicago's Chinatown

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Historical descriptions of Chicago contain several comments about the cleanliness of its Chinese restaurants and the neatness of its Chinese shops.  Here is one:

"One recognizes Chinatown [on Clark Street] by the curious signs over the shops.  The Chinese are industrious and economical and peaceable - never molest anybody who lets them alone. . .  In a typical Chinese shop, all is scrupulously neat and clean.  It seems as if, by some magic, the smoky, dusty atmosphere of Chicago had been excluded from this unique interior, which looks like the inside of a bric-a-brac cabinet, with bright colors, tinsel and shining metals.  On the walls are colored photographs, showing the proprietors beautifully dressed in dove-colored garments.  In a kind of shrine stands a “Joss table” or altar, with what is probably a Confucian text hanging over it, and lying on it some opium pipes.  In a room behind the shop a “fan-tan” game is going on upon a straw-matted table, around which gather interested Celestials three deep.  In the shop is a freshly opened importation, barrels and boxes of Chinese delicacies, pickled fish of various kinds, with the pungent odor which belongs to that kind of food the world round and the seas over.  The men are clothed in Chinese fashion - great, broad cloaks, loose trousers, felt-soled shoes, etc. -- but in American felt hats."

Joseph Kirkland, “Among the Poor of Chicago,” Scribner’s Magazine, vol. 12, no. 1, p. 8, 1892. The author, an expert on poverty, was highly critical of living conditions among other poor Chicagoans -- for instance, Italian-Americans.  He treats the Chinese-American community as an exception.