Jacksonville's early 20th century Chinese community


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Following the end of the Civil War, the United States experienced a major wave of immigration, fueling the growth of its urban centers nationwide. While the stories involving immigration in early Jacksonville have been lost to time, Jacksonville was no exception to the rule.

Between 1850 and 1882, over 300,000 Chinese entered the United States from the Kwangtung and Fukien provinces. Initially settling along the west coast, many moved east to escape virulent prejudice, and built a life by establishing businesses that did not take excessive capital or compete with local residents.

In various cities, the Chinese concentrated in one occupation, commercial laundries. By 1886, seven Chinese-owned laundries were operating in Jacksonville.  Instead of establishing segregated ethnic neighborhoods, early immigrants in the south opened businesses in areas where they could make a living.

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