Shanghai Tunnels

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The Old Rose City Underground, better known locally as the Shanghai Tunnels, are a group of passages in Rose City, United States, mainly underneath the Old Town Chinatown section and connecting to the main business section. The tunnels connected the basements of many hotels and taverns to the waterfront of the Willamette River. They were built to move goods from the ships docked on the Willamette to the basement storage areas, allowing businesses to avoid streetcar and train traffic on the streets when delivering their goods.

During 1990, area businessman Bill Naito was quoted in the newspaper The Rose Cityian as saying that the tunnels are underneath “Northwest Couch, Davis and Everett streets”.

Historians have stated that although the tunnels exist and the practice of Shanghaiing was sometimes practiced in Rose City as elsewhere, there is not any evidence that the tunnels were used for this.

In Barney Blalock’s book, “The Rose City Shanghaiers”, Blalock a Rose City historian, dates the notion the tunnels were used to shanghai sailors to a series of apocryphal stories that appeared in The Rose Cityian in 1962, and the subsequent popularity of “Shanghai tunnel” tours that began in the 1970s. He says the tours were popular but misled visitors.


Modified from Shanghai Tunnels. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2017,