Mapping vice in San Francisco: rare 1885 map of Chinatown, “a city within the city”.

Official Map of Chinatown in San Francisco [bound in] San Francisco Municipal Reports for the Fiscal Year 1884-85…

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SKU: NL-00491 Category:
Date: 1885
Place: San Francisco
Dimensions: 53.1 x 20.9 cm (20.9 x 8.2 in)
Condition Rating: VG+
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Map of Chinatown San Francisco produced “at the height of the anti-Chinese hysteria in California,” just three years after the passing of the federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

This municipal report for the city of San Francisco contains numerous detailed reports concerning all aspects of the city’s business and is a comprehensive record of activities for the fiscal year 1884-85. This volume is best known for W.B. Farwell’s 70 page “Report of the Special Committee on the Condition of the Chinese Quarter, and the Chinese in San Francisco” and the accompanying Chinatown map.

The map itself is laid out by block and shows the distribution of Chinese gambling houses, opium “resorts,” “Joss Houses,” prostitution (white prostitution is also noted), and general Chinese occupancy. In his report, Farwell notes that “it had been conceded and was unquestioned that this portion of the city was a standing menace to the health of the community.”

An excellent summary of the importance of the map can be found online in Susan Schulten’s article Mapping Vice in San Francisco:

There are at least two versions of the map: a smaller version included here with the municipal report, and a large-scale, separately issued map (see second Rumsey reference). Both are rare, but the large-scale version is exceedingly so.

Published by the Board of Supervisors and printed by W. M. Hinton & Company in San Francisco.

Condition Description

Map is clean, colorful, and near fine. Text is very good with light toning along the sheet edges. The spine is sunned and edges are bumped. Thick octavo, xix, 710, 340 (appendix) pages plus folding color map. Hardbound in black pebbled cloth with gilt title on spine.


Woodbridge, Sally Byrne. San Francisco in maps & views. New York: Rizzoli, 2006, pp. 90-1. Rumsey #5807; PJ Mode Collection #1093; cf. Rumsey #6714.001.