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China Bridge Parking Garage: This Park City garage is filled with history

Posted at 6:58 PM, May 17, 2024

PARK CITY, Utah — There are several parking garages in Park City for visitors and locals alike. But one parking garage is filled with a lot of history- The China Bridge Parking Garage located on Swede Alley, two streets up from Main Street.

Before it was a parking garage it was a bridge.

“So the purpose of the bridge was basically so white people could avoid having to walk through the Chinese community in Park City,” said Dalton Gackle, research coordinator at the Park City Museum.

The bridge was built in the early 1880s after the Chinese population had been building a community in Park city for over two decades. Many of them were laborers that worked on the transcontinental railroad which was completed in Utah in 1869.   

“The Chinese people and Irish people and some other workers stayed in Park City,” Gackle said. “They didn't want to go elsewhere to find work. So they stayed here.”

According to Gackle, the Chinese population was a large contributor to the community.

“They ran restaurants, they ran laundries, they ran all sorts of other businesses to just keep the community running,” Gackle said.

But not everyone saw it that way.

The bridge's construction was funded by a group called the Michigan Bunch, Gackle added. They were residents of Park City who came from Michigan.

“There's a hill where a lot of the wealthier people in Park City lived that is called Rossi Hill,” Gackle said. “The people who lived there originally had to walk through Chinatown and across Swede Alley to get to Main Street. They decided they didn't want to do that, so that they could avoid walking through what they considered to be a dirty area.”

The new overpass would allow the wealthier residents of Rossi Hill to walk over Chinatown and on to the base of Main Street.

The China Bridge was eventually destroyed in 1898 during the great fire of 1898 that burned down many parts of Park City. The bridge was then reconstructed into stairs in 1900 and it was mostly used as stairs. Those stairs lasted until about 1954.

While Gackle says there are no oral records of how the Chinese community felt about the bridge, Gackle noted it was only one aspect of discrimination they faced.

“They weren't treated very well throughout their time here,” Gackle said. “A lot of the Chinese people left after the great fire of 1898 because the white population in Park City refused to help rebuild Chinatown. So either they had to rebuild themselves or move on elsewhere, and most of them chose to move on.”