Forgotten Chinatown Playground

CVA 1477-69 - [Mayor L.D. Taylor with children and unidentified man at opening of children's playground at Carrall and Pender streets] 1928.

Photo A: CVA 1477-69 – [Mayor L.D. Taylor with children and unidentified man at opening of children’s playground at Carrall and Pender streets] 1928.

The newly-opened playground (in 1928) which is shown in Photos A and B was, according to CVA’s notes, somewhere near the intersection of Carrall and Pender Streets in Chinatown. But where exactly the playground was located is a bit of a mystery. Most of the lots at the intersection would have been developed for some time by 1928: the Sam Kee building (aka Jack Chow Insurance) on the SW corner has been there since 1913; the Chinese Freemasons Building (aka the Peking Chop Suey House) across the street from Sam Kee has been there even longer, since 1907; the Chinese Times Building on the NE corner (temporary home to Jack Chow Insurance while the Sam Kee block is undergoing renovations) has been on the site since 1902; the only lot that seems a likely site for this playground is the SE corner, where the Sun Yat Sen Gardens were built in 1986.

There are no CVA or VPL photos that I could find of the garden site before it became SYSG. But there are a couple of clues that tend to confirm my conclusion that the playground was on the site of what ultimately became SYSG.

First clue: The building in Photo B behind Mayor Taylor and the two Chinese gents appears to my eye to be very like the building in Photo C at left and marked “1904” (although without the awnings in Photo C). This structure would have been behind the men if they were facing east and standing roughly where SYSG is today.

Second clue: In Photo D, the men were standing on a platform. Behind them is what looks a lot like the Georgia Viaduct (No.1). The Viaduct would be visible south of the site of SYSG.

Item - CVA 1477-68 - [Mayor L.D. Taylor at opening of children's playground at Carrall and Pender streets] 1928.

Photo B:  CVA 1477-68 – [Mayor L.D. Taylor at opening of children’s playground at Carrall and Pender streets] 1928.

CVA 677-581 - [Looking north towards Pender Street along the west side of the 500 block of Carrall Street] 190- P. T. Timms photo.

Photo C: CVA 677-581 – [Looking north towards Pender Street along the west side of the 500 block of Carrall Street] 190- P. T. Timms photo.

VPL 22689 - Mayor LDT standing on platform of Chinese playground on Carrall & Pender March 24, 1928 Dominion Photo.

Photo D: VPL 22689 – Mayor LDT standing on platform of Chinese playground on Carrall & Pender March 24, 1928 Dominion Photo.

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