By Charlotte Brooks

Among the early 1900s and the past due Nineteen Fifties, the attitudes of white Californians towards their Asian American acquaintances developed from outright hostility to relative reputation. Charlotte Brooks examines this change in the course of the lens of California’s city housing markets, arguing that the perceived foreignness of Asian american citizens, which at the start stranded them in segregated components, ultimately facilitated their integration into neighborhoods that confounded different minorities.Against the backdrop of chilly struggle efforts to win Asian hearts and minds, whites who observed little distinction among Asians and Asian american citizens more and more recommended the latter group’s entry to middle-class existence and the residential components that went with it. yet as they reworked Asian american citizens right into a “model minority,” whites purposefully missed the lengthy backstory of chinese language and jap americans’ early and mostly failed makes an attempt to take part in private and non-private housing courses. As Brooks tells this multifaceted tale, she attracts on a large diversity of resources in a number of languages, giving voice to an array of neighborhood leaders, newshounds, activists, and homeowners—and insightfully conveying the complexity of racialized housing in a multiracial society.

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Additional resources for Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (Historical Studies of Urban America)

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73 San Francisco’s Chinese Americans faced a related dilemma. To draw middle-class white tourists with money to spend, Chinatown had to at least flirt with the kinds of exotic stereotypes that frustrated and stymied Chinese aliens and American citizens alike. This flirtation ensured Chinatown’s survival but trapped its residents in a handful of prescribed, acceptable roles. Mayors and political leaders no longer Chinatown: America’s First Segregated Neighborhood 35 promised white constituents to erase Chinatown from the map and to rid the city of Chinese; instead, a growing number of white San Franciscans tolerated Chinatown’s presence, and some actually recognized it as an asset.

Lacking other options, five or six Chinese immigrants routinely crowded into a single tiny room, where they often ate and worked as well. Others slept packed into the basements of the quarter’s buildings. Such conditions persisted for decades, prompting 1930s housing advocate Lim P. 10 The segregation of Chinese Americans in San Francisco continued for so long because early in the city’s history, Chinatown and its residents became crucial to ideas about whiteness there. Certainly, other factors contributed to the spatial (and economic and social) isolation of the Chinese American community.

Their relative mobility set San Francisco apart from other American cities of the early twentieth century. 60 a new industry and a bad reputation In the late nineteenth century, white guides began taking visitors on “slumming” tours to see Chinatown’s poverty and supposed perversity. Accounts of these visits appeared in many magazines and books of the era and made the neighborhood infamous, yet tour guides were often hard-pressed to fulfill visitors’ expectations. Mary Wills, a Pennsylvanian, wrote in 1889 that “we had heard so much of these midnight horrors we expected to see what was really bad, or at least vicious.

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