Caution. Can be racially charged. Legend has it that the first Chinese laundry was opened in 1851 in California by a failed Chinese miner. Inexpensive to open and posing no competition to white-owned businesses, Chinese hand laundries proliferated, peaking in 1940, with more than 5,000 laundries in New York City alone. In California, Chinese were once permitted to own only restaurants and laundries. The Chinese laundry declined sharply with the introduction of coin-operated laundromats.
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REFERENCE: AAJA Handbook to Covering Asian America