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"Beating the Chinese' and 'San Francisco as a Cultural Center'

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Posted 7 years ago


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The titles of these two murals seem at odds, no? Nonetheless, they are two of Anton Refregier's 27 murals in the Rincon Center in San Francisco. It was formerly a post office, until its closure in 1978. Refregier painted the murals for the WPA during the New Deal in the '40s.

Below are the descriptions provided by the post office of these two murals.

19. Beating the Chinese: "After completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, Chinese flocked to San Francisco. They worked harder and for less money than white laborers and soon had half the city's factory jobs. Whites strongly opposed this competition and during the 1870's, beat and killed Chinese while destroying their property."

"These Chinese man in the foreground of this panel is about to have his pigtail cut off. Frank Roney, quoted at the base of this panel, was a San Francisco labor leader who opposed this mistreatment."

20. San Francisco as a Cultural Center: "The famous San Franciscans pictured in this panel are, from left to right, actress Lotta Crabtree, writer Frank Norris, horticulturist Luther Burbank, writers Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, publisher and writer Hubert Howe Bancroft, and writer Jack London. On the far right is a scene of ghost like WPA artists painting a mural, a commentary on the federal art programs which had ceased to exist earlier int he 1940's."

"The broadside pictured in the upper center relates to the racy 1863 melodrama Mazeppa, a play in which actress Adah Isaacs Menken appeared seemingly nude (actually in flesh-colored tights) while on horseback."

Lastly, notice the post office and customs sigh under the first mural.

Part of my trip to Rincon Center. For more on New Deal Post Office murals, check out this website:

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