An opium den in San Francisco
Process print after a photograph, early 20th century
During the 19th century the American Gold Rush and the
construction of the railways provided work for thousands of Chinese
economic migrants, and San Francisco's Chinatown became the largest
in the Western world.
Its opium dens were notorious, and in 1875 the city passed an
Opium Exclusion Act which prohibited the use of opium by Chinese
(though not by whites). However, opium dens continued to operate
clandestinely in San Francisco until the Second World War.