Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Now home to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company, a musical barber, and a brass plaque-map of the alleys of Chinatown, Ross Alley’s bustling present is a very long walk from its dark past.
Photographer Arnold Genthe captured Ross as the street of the gamblers. (Genthe would spend hours standing in Chinatown’s doorways, until his subjects bored of his Caucasian face, and then he took photo after photo of this exotic city within a city. When his subject matter didn’t appear sufficiently exotic, Genthe touched up the negatives in his lab before creating a final print.)
In 1880, national census-takers walked the alley, knocking on door after door. They found houses of Chinese boarders living next door to store keepers, tailors, cigar makers, seamstresses and cooks along this alley, then called Stout.