Chinese in San Jose & Santa Clara Valley

By Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, Gerrye Wong, Lillian Gong-Guy

The fertile Santa Clara Valley--once called the Valley of Heart's Delight and later Silicon Valley--has long been home to a substantial Chinese population. Like other immigrants, they arrived seeking opportunity and armed with survival instincts and the ability to persevere, but the struggles they faced were unique. From 1866 to 1931, five distinct Chinatowns existed in San Jose, each one devastated by mysterious fires or stifled by unjust laws. Early Chinese in the region labored relentlessly, building railroads and levees and toiling as laundrymen, grocers, cooks, servants, field hands, and factory workers. In the 20th century, new industries replaced agriculture, and an influx of Chinese invigorated the valley with innovative ideas, helping it emerge as a leader in technology.

An exceptional story told through compelling images from personal collections and institutional photographic archives under the auspices of the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project.