The Last of Old Chinatown

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The Last of Old Chinatown


Image of Chinatown section located in Providence, Rhode Island with a caption reading, "The last of Old Chinatown. All of the buildings through the center of the section were doomed by the extension of Empire Street. Former headquarters of local Chinese Societies in the foreground. In the distance the stage of Empire Theatre and tower of Central Baptist Church."

The US city of Providence, Rhode Island was once home to at least two Chinatowns, with the first on Burrill Street in the 1890s until 1901 and then around Empire Street around the late 1890s in the southern section of the city. According to another source, the Burrill Street Chinatown was burned to the ground in 1901 by a "mysterious fire" caused by a kerosene stove.

The Empire Street Chinatown was considered one of the "last of the old Chinatowns" in a grouping that included Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The extension of Empire Street, proposed in 1914 (according to the Providence Sunday Journal) and completed around 1951 doomed the Chinatown, and all of the buildings were demolished including the former headquarters of local Chinese societies. The enclave was once located next to the Empire Theatre and the Central Baptist Church.
Source: Chinatown, Providence-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See also:
Preston Collection photographs (GRS5.7c), circa 1920-1930

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission: Statewide Preservation Reports, 1975 - 1982

Various postcards of Providence and Pawtucket, R.I., c. 1918-1919




Rhode Island State Archives


Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





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"The Last of Old Chinatown," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #212, (accessed November 17, 2019).