Chinese Laundries, New Orleans, 1897

Chinese laundries in New Orleans around the French Quarter in 1897 were the dominant business for Chinese.  This fire insurance listing shows one restaurant and five or six stores selling Chinese merchandise or goods although it is not clear whether the goods were the kind favored by nonChinese or by Chinese.  Surprisingly, only a few Chinese seemed to live on the premises of their laundries, which was commonplace elsewhere. By 1948, there were only 11 Chinese laundries listed in a business directory, and they all belonged to two ‘chains,’ 7 locations for Oriental Laundry chain and 4 sites for Star Laundry.  Perhaps the multiplicity of sites for each laundry led the Oriental Laundry to place a prominent disclaimer on its sign, “Not in The Trust,” to allay fears that prices were ‘fixed’ by the owners.  The number of Chinese restaurants in 1948 had grown to 7.

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