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1885 Chinese Expulsion: Places & People
Item 2 of 15
This is a contributing entry for 1885 Chinese Expulsion: Places & People and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

Lower Chinatown was located adjacent to the Hatch Mill on Half-Moon Bay. A small bay that was eventually filled in for a railyard for the Northern Pacific Railroad, Half-Moon Bay was where many Chinese laborers lived in makeshift homes. At the time of the Chinese Expulsion, that area was sometimes referred to locally as Chinatown. The shanties there that the Chinese lived in were burned down to the ground.


  • Half-Moon Bay, location of Tacoma's lower Chinatown (1884)
  • Chinatown & Hatch Mill on 1885 Sanborn Map
  • Chinatown & Hatch Mill on 1885 Sanborn Map

The Hatch Mill was located approximately on the site where Thea's Park and the Dock Street Warehouse is today. The area which was referred to as "Chinatown" is called out on the 1885 Sanborn Insurance Map. Along with the Hatch Mill, lower Chinatown was just south of and adjacent to the mill towards downtown. A photo of this area and the shanties which made up Chinatown can be viewed in an 1885 photo.

The Northern Pacific Railway completed its Tacoma terminal on December 27th, 1873 and a large number of Chinese workers remained in the area as there were more railroad projects to be completed. The Northern Pacific Railway leased the land near the railroad tracks to the Chinese workers which became Tacoma's Chinatown. The Chinatown remained until 1885 when it was burned down after the expulsion.

The Tacoma Method. Accessed September 28th 2020. https://www.tacomamethod.com/expulsion.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Washington State Historical Society (1979.1.101)

Library of Congress (Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. Sanborn Map Company, Sep, 1885. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn09345_001/)

Library of Congress (Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. Sanborn Map Company, Sep, 1885. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn09345_001/)