digging in to san jose last chinatown

This is an interesting story from the San Jose Mercury News about a recent excavation near San Jose's Japantown that unearthed the remnants and artifacts of Heinlenville, a walled community that was home 2,000 Chinese immigrants circa the 1880s -- the city's last Chinatown: 'The Big Dig' gives glimpse into life in San Jose Chinatown 100 years ago.

The five-acre site was the city's vehicle maintenance yard for decades, and was cleared early last year for a housing development. The archaeological dig is part of a required environmental impact study.

So far, archaeologists and anthropologists have unearthed all sorts of interesting items, including an intact Chinese rice bowl with a bamboo design, a child's jade bracelet, iridescent homeopathic glass vials, piles of pottery shards, bones of fish, pigs and cows, as well as bone toothbrushes, ceramic and glass gaming pieces, and buttons.

During the race riots of 1880, arsonists, determined to drive the Chinese out of San Jose, torched the old Chinatown on Market Street. The displaced immigrants found a friend in John Heinlen, who built the community with an eight-foot fence to protect residents from outsiders. The area became an important site for Chinese and Japanese agricultural workers in the valley.

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