A New Prison for Lost Souls

July 9, 1907
Los Angeles

Grace Methodist Episcopal Church on Hewitt Street was barren; the pastor had gone away and the congregation had moved on. And so the City Council, in struggling to house inmates at the crowded, filthy prison on West 4th Street, decided to lease the old church for $100 ($2,052.36 USD 2005) a month as a temporary jail until a larger facility could be built

When Boozing Was A-foot

July 6, 1907
Los Angeles 

Hot! damn but it’s been hot and humid, too, the steamiest early July since records have been kept. Sure there were hotter single days–like July 25, 1891 when the mercury topped 109–but no one can recall a week when the very dawn temperature broke 80 degrees, with no relief offered by the night.

Mrs. Carrie Gilbert’s solution to the grisly weather was to get drunk and sleep out-of-doors, not in a cosy sleepying porch at home at 617 1/2 East Sixth Street, but alongside the railway behind the commission house at First and Central Streets. Deep in the darkness her horrible screams were heard; a passing train had severed her left foot. Taken to Receiving Hospital, the lady slipped into a merciful stupor. Clever, clever dipsomaniac. Shock, they say, leaves one feeling icy cold

Wrap-Up of the Recent Tong War


Tong war, born of woman! Of few days, and full of trouble!

Seems there’s always a highbinder war simmering down in Chinatown. But despite the literality of that damn’d “huddled masses” business, there stays an easy peace down amongst the Celestials. Until.

When a Hop Sing Tong all-tong banquet (for those of you not in the know, a Tong could throw down on your local set) was held in the early weeks of June, the Bing Gon Tong was forbidden to attend—and as such, the Bing Gon elected to remove their slave girls from the Chinatown sex market.

And thus comes the storm.

At first the cops—informed (as they are to-day) by merchants and oldtimers who have little stake in any war—spent their time shaking down and locking up local Chinese for carrying Caliente-smuggled firearms, and having hired Caliente gunmen.


Then Chin Hai, local laundryman and Bing Gon fellow-traveler, was shot at by the Hop Sing Tong, and cops arrested Ah Quay, Ah Mee, Ah Soo, Tom Tong and Wong Kee. After cops picked up these men and the hammerless revolver they (or one, or perhaps none) used in the shooting, two knifing attempts by highbinders went down. It was a busy night. Chinese merchants slept in their stores. They appealed for police escorts. And all cops could uncover in the Chinese interstices were some smokeless-powder cartridges for great-caliber weapons.


lingaukThe young and fair Ling Auk, left, who had been friendly to the Bing Gon, was surprised by Hop Sing hatchetmen on June 19. Luckily, they were scared away by her protectors. The Hop Sing Tong has always been the most warlike in the Chinese settlement. They are centered at 529+1/2 North Los Angeles Street, where they have built a walled fortress replete with intricate tunnels that repeatedly prevent their capture. That White girls retire there to smoke opium is a sad, accepted fact of modernity.


Outside agitators are, of course, a factor.

Tong representatives from San Francisco are urging bloodshed. storm


Meanwhile, the bloodthirsty boys of the Hop Sing have donned their mail. What looks like an ordinary quilted silk Chinese coat to the naked eye actually conceals a screen of steel links, bullet and knife and, most importantly to the tong war, hatchet-proof.

Legendary San Fran avenger Lu Fook has even arrived in town; he is storied to have survived four shots in the back while his followers killed six hatchetmen. Heavy muscle from up north always makes copper flee in LA; where in SF the Great Six Companies War Board settle tong differences, Los Angeles just has some officers watching the trains to note incoming highbinders and look on as the Oriental Quarter, centered at Alameda and Marchessault Streets, erupts in bloodshed.

Luckily, Wong Fong, mayor of the San Francisco Chinatown, was called to Los Angeles last week to settle the dispute. Sui Hoo Fow and Sam Ham Gay were named as the perps in the Chin Hai shooting, and were ostracized by their tongs. Again we settle into an uneasy, easy peace.

Number-Crunching the Horseless Carriage

July 1, 1907
Los Angeles

If you ever wondered if the Locomobile or Pope-Hartford got great gas mileage, the answer is no, as shown in the results of the 185-mile Lakeside Endurance Race. In cost and fuel efficiency, the 1907 automobiles were about the equivalent of a 2006 Ford Explorer (MSRP $31,650) or a Range Rover Sport (MSRP $56,085-$69,025).

The car with the best gas mileage in the economy competition was the Pope-Hartford, 8