Chinatown then and now: Beach Street El demolition
By Tunney Lee, MIT professor emeritus of architecture
A view of the Beach Street El demolition from Harrison Avenue on May 19, 1942. The El was torn down during World War II and the scrap iron was used for the war effort. From 1900 until 1942, the elevated structure occupied Beach Street, overshadowing the stores and sidewalks. The rumbling and squeals of the train as it rounded the corner of Harrison Avenue made the area highly undesirable except for the Chinese and the garment industry. In 1942, garment factories occupied the tall buildings in the foreground. However, no Chinese were working in the needle trades until the 1960s.