Chinatown · History · urban design · Vancouver

Market Alley in the 1920s

Market Alley in the 1920s


Market Alley in the 1920s

Here are the fire insurance maps from the late 1920s showing Market Alley between Carrall and Main Street. Market Alley was once filled with a variety of businesses including restaurants, laundries, pawnbrokers and merchants.

Despite what some publications say, there was no general curfew in Chinatown imposed by the authorities. Alleys such as Market Allley and Shanghai Alley were not gated. The two private entrances to the residential courtyards on Pender Street – one behind the Yue Shan Society and the other between the residential buildings west of Shanghai Alley were kept locked most of the time for privacy.

Yip Sang the owner of the Wing Sang Company did lock the doors of his family compound at night and all family members had to be home on time. this may be the origin of the curfew myth.

Chinese Times ad from the 1920s


1919 Directory listing for Market Alley

Today there are efforts being made to revitalize the alley and bring business back.


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