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COBWEB CORNERS: 1st Chinese restaurant here in the 1940s

By Mel McFarland

June 14, 2018
       Colorado has an interesting history when it comes to its Chinese people. Basically, about a century ago, they were not liked here. Many Chinese workers were used to build the continental railroad in California and Nevada, but not in Colorado. Most of the Colorado railroads were built using Mexican, Italian and Irish laborers.
       The mining camps might have had a Chinese laundry, but that was about all. In general, they were allowed to have businesses, but were limited as to what they were.
       Before being annexed to Colorado Springs, Colorado City had a Chinese laundry, and Colorado Springs had a Chinese resident who sold fabrics, furniture and other related furnishings. He would regularly go to China to pick up items for his store.
       The first Chinese restaurant I've found in Colorado Springs was in the downtown after World War II. It was the Grand Cafe, at Colorado and Tejon. In the 1960s, during the city's urban renewal "blitz," the place closed and the building was torn down.
       I believe it was the same owners who opened another restaurant on South Eighth Street. It was quite the place. Called the Golden Dragon, it was styled in the great Chinese tradition, and the food was high quality. It was quite an event to dine there. The restaurant sat on the corner by the west entrance to Motor City. I do not remember just when it closed. I think it was more than 20 years ago. For a long time it was the only Chinese restaurant in town. Today there are many.
       Military influence in Springs started in 1940s
       Colorado Springs saw a great burst of growth after World War II, and that pretty much is still going on. Before the war, the main business was tourism, which was mostly a summer activity. That changed once the military arrived, with the Army establishing Camp Carson and Peterson Field during World War II. There was a downturn just before the Korean War, when Peterson Field was temporarily inactivated, and after it, when closing Carson was threatened. But Pete Field became an Air Force base in 1951 and Camp Carson a fort in 1954. In the same year, Colorado Springs was chosen for the Air Force Academy.
       It is hard now to imagine what this town was like before the 1940s, when the population was less than 40,000.
       Here's an interesting item from a 1946 newspaper. It was front-page news when a local lad got an appointment to West Point. David Hughes (who just turned 90 - see Westside Pioneer article at this link) had received an appointment from Senator Millikin. Ah, a momentous occasion.

(Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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