The Chinese Tunnels of Downtown Antioch
Main Tunnel - 2nd St between G & I, Antioch
(Not yet placed)
Jeremy Woodsworth

THE CHINESE TUNNELS OF DOWNTOWN ANTIOCH

EARLY ANTIOCH WAS CHARACTERIZED BY MANY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS. ONE
SUCH CHAPTER WAS THE CREATION OF A CHINATOWN AT THE FOOT OF I STREET. LOCATED IN
THE AREA WEST OF WHAT IS NOW THE COMPY COMPOMIZZO FISHING PIER. RIVERTOWN’S
CHINESE POPULATION INHABITED A FLOTILLA OF HOUSEBOATS AND A NUMBER OF SHOPS
BETWEEN FIRST AND SECOND STREETS.
THIS TIME PERIOD ALSO SAW THE PASSAGE OF A LOCAL ORDINANCE WHICH PROHIBITED
CHINESE FROM BEING ON THE STREETS OF OLD RIVERTOWN AFTER SUNSET. IN ORDER FOR
THESE RESIDENTS TO TRAVEL BETWEEN THEIR PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT IN THE RESTAURANTS, HOTELS, LAUNDRYS AND SALOONS OF EARLY ANTIOCH AND THEIR FLOATING SHANYTOWN,
A SERIES OF TUNNELS WERE DUG IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA. THIS NETWORK OF TUNNELS WAS INITIALLY USED FOR TRAVEL, BUT ALSO SERVED PROMINENTLY IN THE IMMIGRATION OF ILLEGAL ALIENS WHO WORKED DOWNTOWN, THE TRANSPORT OF BOOTLEG LIQUOR DURING PROHIBITION AND PROSTITUTION DURING THIS ERA. IT IS ALSO KNOWN THAT ROOMS DUG ADJACENT TO THE MAIN TUNNELS SERVED AS OPIUM DENS FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. THE MAIN TUNNEL CONNECTING
ALL THE BUILDINGS ON SECOND STREET, BETWEEN G STREET AND I STREET, WAS HOME
TO A BUSTLING UNDERGROUND ECONOMY.
THE DISCRIMINATORY ORDINANCE WHICH INSPIRED THE TUNNELS WAS EVENTUALLY RESCINDED
AT THE END OF WORLD WAR I. JUST AS MEMORIES OF THIS ORDINANCE FADE IN TIME,
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE TUNNELS AND THEIR IMPORTANT PLACE IN ANTIOCH’S PAST HAS
DRIFTED INTO THE PAGES OF HISTORY.

DEDICATED NOVEMBER 4, 2006
JOAQUIN MURRIETA CHAPTER 13
E CLAMPUS VITUS