Many of the larger factories left unharmed were also quick to start work. At the Union Iron Works 2,300 men were promptly employed, and the management expected within a fortnight to have the full complement of its force, nearly 4,000 men, engaged. No damage was done to the three new warships being built at these works for the government, the cruisers California and Milwaukee and the battleship South Dakota. The steamer City of Puebla, which was sunk in the bay, has been raised and is being repaired. Workmen are also engaged fixing the steamship Columbia, which was turned on her side. The hulls of the new Hawaiian-American Steamship Company’s liners were pitched about four feet to the south, but were uninjured and only need to be replaced in position.
As for the working people at large, those without funds for their own support, abundant employment will quickly be provided for them in the necessary work of clearing away the debris, thus opening the way to a resumption of business and reducing the number requiring relief. The ukase has already been issued that all able-bodied men needing aid must go to work or leave the city.
This dictum of Chief of Police Dinan’s will be strictly enforced. The relief work and distribution of food and clothing are attracting a certain element to the city which does not desire to labor, while some already here prefer to live on the generosity of others. Chief Dinan has determined that those who apply for relief and refuse work when it is offered them shall leave the city or be arrested for vagrancy. The police judges have suggested establishing a chain gang and putting all vagrants and petty offenders at work clearing up the ruins.
Perhaps never in the history of the city has there been so little crime in San Francisco. With the saloons closed, Chinatown, the Barbary Coast, and other haunts of criminals wiped out, and soldiers and marines on almost every block in the residence districts, there have been few crimes of any kind. It is the opinion of the police that most of the criminal element has left the city. The saloons, in all probability will remain closed for two more months.
In conclusion of this chapter it is advisable to refer to the situation of one of the elements of San Francisco’s population, the people of Chinatown. One of the problems facing the relief committees on both sides of the bay is the sheltering of the Chinese. Many of them are destitute. It has long been a question in San Francisco what should be done with Chinatown, and moving the Chinese in the direction of Colma has been agitated. Now they are without homes and without prospects of procuring any. They can get no land. The limits of Oakland’s Chinatown have already been extended, and the strictest police regulations are in force to prevent further enlargement. On this side of the bay they are camping in open lots. Unless the government undertakes their relief, they are in grave danger. Those who have money cannot purchase property, as no one will sell to them. Few, however, even of the wealthiest merchants in Chinatown, saved anything of value, for their wealth was invested in the Oriental village which had sprung up in the heart of the area burned.