Cultural monitoring for a redevelopment project at 4th and J Streets in downtown San Diego uncovered a deposit of approximately 1,000 Asian and Euro-American historic-era artifacts. A PanGIS Historian was the cultural lead and was tasked with overseeing the lab artifact cataloging, artifact analysis, comparative analysis, curation, and a technical report. Twenty percent of the collection is from the Chinese American period and was analyzed by a historian specializing in the history of Chinese American communities in Southern California. PanGIS staff met with representatives from the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum to show them the collection and discuss the finds and the curation of the Chinese portion of the artifacts.
PanGIS analyzed the Euro-American artifacts, which were 80% of the collection. The Euro-American artifacts are curated at the San Diego Archaeological Center. PanGIS staff authored a Historical Resource Technical Report according to City of San Diego Historical Resources Board guidelines. The report was approved without revisions.
This fascinating project required a good deal of research at the San Diego History Museum. What is known today as the Gaslamp District used to include San Diego’s thriving Chinatown, as well as the “Stingaree”, the red-light district filled with saloons and prostitution. Artifacts buried for nearly a century under a warehouse and parking lot were recovered and tell the story of these two lesser-represented communities. On the block that was excavated was once a tavern and the small apartments next door that housed bartenders and prostitutes. Vice crackdowns in 1912 swept out the Stingaree and the residents of the block, and Chinese merchants and their families moved in.