Back to Inquiry Set

8.12.4 Fishmonger

Chinese man selling fish in San Francisco's Chinatown. View of table in front of storefront laden with fish. Another man examines crates of fish stacked off to the side of the doorway.
circa 1900?
Photographic Print
"Fishmonger." Photograph. California Historical Society, San Francisco Subjects Photography Collection, PC-SF---Chinatown (ante-1910)- Merchants & Markets.
All immigrants to the United States hoped for a good, successful life. Many were able to achieve success by working in cities or on farms, and some even ran their own business. Perhaps this man selling fish in San Francisco’s Chinatown was one such person, who made a life in the US that was more comfortable, stable, and safe than what he could have established in his home country. Immigrants from around the Pacific Ocean — from countries in Central and South America, Canada, Russia, Australia, China, and others — all came to the West Coast and worked to establish themselves in their new country. How might this man describe his opportunity in the United States, based on this photograph?
San Francisco’s Chinatown is a vibrant community that was first established during the Gold Rush. Since its early days it has encompassed housing as well as retail stores, restaurants and other businesses, and also places of worship and community organizations. Chinatowns in Oakland, Los Angeles, and in other American cities developed, as did Little Italy’s and other ethnic neighborhoods that sustained and nourished immigrant communities and their descendants.