Preserve the Former Chinese Laundry Building in El Paso, Texas

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This petition supports the preservation of the former Chinese laundry building at 212 West Overland Avenue in El Paso, Texas as significant evidence of the contribution of Chinese immigrants to El Paso and United States history. We, the undersigned believe the building should be preserved for its historic significance as the last surviving building built and operated as a Chinese business in El Paso and for its location in Duranguito, the oldest historic neighborhood in El Paso, Texas.

The first record of Chinese immigrants to El Paso was as early as 1880.  One thousand five hundred Chinese laborers were hired between 1886 and 1889 to build the railroad when it came through El Paso. In 1889, after the railroad was completed, many stayed to work as cooks, waiters, gardeners and vegetable growers. Some worked for the Southern Pacific, cleaning trains. At its height, all 18 laundries in El Paso were owned and operated by Chinese. In 1890, 44% of the Chinese population in Texas lived and worked in El Paso.

These workers left their families behind in China, crossed the ocean, worked at lowered wages, and contributed to the El Paso community. Chinese endured unspeakable prejudice and abuse. They became unwelcomed and had less opportunity for employment or business after the railroad was completed. The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur in 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the US-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the U. S. to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It was not repealed by the Magnuson Act until December of 1943.

The building on 212 W. Overland Avenue is the only surviving landmark of our early Chinese community of El Paso. It was built specifically as a laundry by Chinese workers. When this building is demolished, there will not be any remnant of the once thriving Chinatown. It being the only remaining building of the former Chinatown, the present Chinese American community feels very strongly that it must be preserved. Not only is it a part of Chinese American history, but an important part of El Paso, Texas, and United States history.

 



Today: Amigos de (Friends of) Duranguito, The Union Plaza Neighborhood, El Paso, Texas is counting on you

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