Madison Square, originally called Caroline Square, was one of seven public squares in the early days of Oakland. The residential district that grew up around it makes up the residential end of Tong Yan Fow--Chinatown--and has housed the Chinese community since its earliest days. By 1860, there were 200 Chinese residents out of a total population of 1500 in Oakland.
In 1882 President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act which prohibited Chinese workers from coming to America and denying citizenship to those Chinese nationals already living and working here. This act suppressed the Chinese population in America for decades; Oakland’s Chinatown was no exception. There was widespread housing and employment discrimination. Few white employers would hire Chinese except as houseboys or agricultural workers. Even the refugee camp along the shores of Lake Merritt after the Great Quake of ‘06 was racially segregated with