Two plaques were unveiled in Old Pasadena Tuesday, January 9, memorializing the burning of a Chinese laundry and the expulsion of Chinese immigrants from the city in 1885.
By Matt Hormann
Members of the local Asian-American community and others gathered for the unveiling of two markers —at the south end of Mills Place and in front of 33 S. Fair Oaks.
“Nearly 140 years ago there was a concerted effort to exclude those of Chinese origin from the city of Pasadena,” said City Manager Miguel Marquez. “That’s a tragic past, one we will not condemn ourselves to repeating.”
The plaques recognize the contributions of Yuen Kee, Pasadena’s first Chinese businessman. Welcomed at first, he faced discrimination as anti-Asian fervor gripped Pasadena. On November 6, 1885, a crowd started a fire that burned down his laundry and two other buildings. The next day, an ordinance banished the Chinese from the city center.
“The mistreatment of Chinese-Americans that led the mob to burn down the Yuen Kee laundry and run the Chinese out of Pasadena is a disgraceful truth,” said council member Masuda. The Chinese with their strength and character and sacrifices and hard work […] helped build our nation.”
Mayor Gordo added: “We should use this also as an opportunity to recognize that there have been other mistakes made in our city — by city officials — in the past.”
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