Plants, Animals, and Food Choice Within the Market Street Chinatown, San Jose, California

Author(s): Ryan Kennedy

Year: 2015


The Market Street Chinatown was a major urban Chinese community in nineteenth century San Jose, California. From 1866 to 1887, the community housed and served as a home base to several thousand Chinese residents and laborers. Excavated in the 1980s, the Market Street Chinatown yielded an incredibly rich collection of material culture as well as faunal and floral remains.

This paper examines food consumption and food choice amongst Market Street's nineteenth century Chinese residents. The author draws upon botanical data from the site as well as recently collected faunal data. Ultimately, the data show that Market Street's residents utilized a combination of traditional and local plants and animals to construct their diet. This combination of both the familiar and the unfamiliar typifies Chinese dietary strategies in the United States. This paper ultimately explores how Chinese dietary flexibility with both plants and animals played out in the Market Street Chinatown.

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Cite this Record

Plants, Animals, and Food Choice Within the Market Street Chinatown, San Jose, California. Ryan Kennedy. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396671)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology