Boston's Chinatown originated in the late 1870s with the arrival of large numbers of Chinese immigrants. They concentrated in the original South End neighborhood, which had been developed in the early nineteenth century on the South Cove landfill by the South Cove Associates. That group's activities coincided with the construction of several railroad lines entering the city through this district from the south and west in the 1830s. Although heavily altered (especially new facades of yellow brick), many residential blocks built primarily for Irish immigrants survive on Beech, Tyler, Hudson, and Harvard streets, such as 48–58 Beech Street constructed in 1841–1842. By the early 1900s, they were among the first block of houses owned by Chinese immigrants. At 50 Beech Street, the Yeah Lee Laundry, one of the earliest known Chinese businesses, was established by 1877. The Eastern Live Poultry at 48 Beech Street has been at its location since 1912. Behind this block, on an alley called Oxford Place, Gridley J. F. Bryant designed another row of speculative brick houses in the early 1840s, erected cheaply and quickly with very little architectural ornament.
At the east end of Beech Street stands the formal entrance to Chinatown. The government of Taiwan donated the pai-lou gate in 1976. The Boston architectural firm of Jung/Brannen Associates erected the gate in 1982, with inscriptions derived from the writings of Chiang Kai-Shek and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.
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