Remnants of the Woolen Mills sewer system: Redwood lined sections connected to ceramic pipe.
Local San Jose Chinese in the 19th century were determined to build this Chinatown. Some local politicians and other people in the City were determined that the Chinatown not be built, in large part due to racial stereotypes and prejudice. Contemporary newspaper accounts tell of some of the restrictions placed on the Chinese. On June 20, 1887, the San Jose Daily Mercury reported that “No buildings will be erected within 300 feet [of the nearest existing city streets] and Chinatown will not be visible from this thoroughfare…” Five days later a city councilman informed the newspaper that he would try to declare a city resolution that the Chinese would have to hook into the town sewer that was at least 1000 feet away at their own expense, and that this would probably deter them. The Mayor declared this resolution “out of order.”?To our surprise, the residents of the Woolen Mills Chinatown, with much labor, determination, and money, did hook into the main sewer system, possibly to deter local stereotypes of Chinatowns as dirty or unclean. WeÂ¹ve been piecing together the remnants of an interesting and elaborate water supply and sewer system.