Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!

Wanda wins with her 2:02 p.m. Tuesday gueas "This must be the interior of the Pasadena Steam Laundry, which had been located at the corner of Villa and Raymond."

In the 1888 photo above, workers at the Pasadena Steam Laundry take advantage of the natural light coming in from the large windows.

The business catered to residents and tourists and was located on Wilson Avenue at Villa Street -- in the outskirts of town at the time.

Before washing machines became a staple in many homes, Pasadena Steam Laundry picked up dirty laundry, delivered clean laundry and provided tailoring and mending services.

In addition to servicing residents and tourists, the business had contracts with some schools, retaurants and hotels.

In an 1892 advertisement in the Pasadena Daily Evening Star, the Pasadena Steam Laundry advertised the fact that no Chinese labor was used:
No leprous or diseased individuals around OUR laundry. None but white labor employed.

Chinese immigrants who helped build the transcontinental railroad from the 1860s to 1880s became cheap labor in other industries throughout the nation. In Pasadena, Chinese laborers worked in the orange groves and other agricultural fields, but were not necessarily welcomed in other enterprises.

This is a Chinese immigrant working at a local vineyard:

The Pasadena Fire Department was established after a makeshift Chinese laundry burned in 1885 and a race riot broke out. Read about that incident here.

Many thanks to the Pasadena Museum of History.


altadenahiker said...


Petrea Burchard said...

Interesting history. Thanks for not sugar-coating the awful parts.

I wouldn't have gotten this one, either. But if I don't start showing up here on Tuesdays I'm never going to win any prizes, am I?

Jean Spitzer said...

Thanks for posting this and, as Petrea said, not sugar-coating it.