Chinese Village, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909The Chinese Village was another of the live displays at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909. It consisted of three buildings: A Chinese temple, a restaurant complete with tearoom, and a theater. The Village was located at the north end of Pay Streak near the big Ferris wheel. The Chinese government did not sponsor the exhibit it was funded and run by local Chinese Americans who donated to help build it. All the Chinese living in the region were contacted and contributed something toward the project. The two local Chinese Americans most responsible for the completion and running of the Chinese Village were Ah King a successful Chinese merchant in Seattle and Goon Dip* the honorary consul for the Chinese government.
Ah King traveled to China in 1908 to choose goods and curios for the Village. About twenty Chinese performers were also hired and traveled to Seattle from China. Most of them were part of a theatrical group and the acts changed daily in the theater. The performers were billed as the “Pekin” (Peking) Troupe even though they came from Shanghai. There were jugglers, acrobats and magicians who amazed the crowds with their acts. In addition to a fee to enter the Village there was a fee of ten cents to go into the Temple and Theater.
Although there were several thousand more Japanese people living in the area and the Japanese exhibit had financial help from the Japanese government the Chinese Village brought in nearly as much revenue. It was a huge success.
* I recall my mother mentioning that I.C. Lee knew Goon Dip but I don’t know the exact connection. I did wonder if I.C. had been approached to donate to the Chinese Village since his last name of Lee is also a fairly common Chinese American name and if that was the way he got to know Goon Dip. The fact that I.C. was Norwegian American might have been a surprise!
For more information about the Chinese Village see, http://www.historylink.org