Verona Arena, Verona, Italy


Verona | Interno Dell’Anfiteatro
1900s
Publisher: Gustavo Modiano & Co, Milan

Google Street View.

The Verona Arena is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy built in 30 AD. It is still in use today and is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. In ancient times, the arena’s capacity was nearly 30,000 people. . . . The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The ludi (shows and games) staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places, often far away, to witness them.[citation needed] The amphitheatre could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times. The round facade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure’s outer ring, except for the so-called “ala” (wing), the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings. Nevertheless, it impressed medieval visitors to the city, one of whom considered it to have been a labyrinth, without ingress or egress.[1] Ciriaco d’Ancona was filled with admiration for the way it had been built and Giovanni Antonio Panteo’s civic panegyric De laudibus veronae, 1483, remarked that it struck the viewer as a construction that was more than human.
Wikipedia.


Amfitheater van Verona, Fratelli Alinari, c. 1880 – c. 1895 (from Rijksmuseum).

The Roman amphitheatre, the Arena, is the most renowned Veronese monument. Today the Arena is set in the historical centre and acts as a backdrop for Piazza. But once upon a time, when the Romans built it, the monument was located at the margins of the urban area, outside the circle of the walls. The Arena summarises in itself almost twenty centuries of local history. Through time, it has become the very symbol of the city. Its cult has far away roots, that go back to Carolingian humanism. The fame that the amphitheatre has enjoyed in the civic consciousness of the Veronese has gradually led the monument to increasingly assume the character of the very symbol of ancient nobility. From here the measures for its conservation and many deep restorations originate. The Arena has always served the special purpose of spectacular events. During Roman times, for example, it was used for spectacles of gladiator fighting. In Medieval times and until the mid eighteenths century, games and tournaments were common events at the Arena.
Verona.com


Amphitheatre at Verona, 1898 (from Wikimedia Commons)

The Verona Arena dates back to the I century, built during Augustus’ Empire. Its central area is composed by sand (hence the name Arena, which in Latin means sand). All around there are 45 big stone steps “bleachers”, which can contain 30.000 viewers. After the Roman period, the Arena hoted games, tournaments and celebrations, but also trials and public executions. In 1183 an earthquake destroyed the external order of arches that surrounded the Arena. Today only a small part of it still stands. The interior perimeter of 72 arches is in perfect conditions. During the Middle Ages legal disputes were resolved here: each defendant could choose a trial by combat (yes, like in Game of Thrones) using professional wrestlers. Even Dante witnessed one of these trials and mentioned it in his Inferno. In the nineteenth century the Verona Arena hosted mostly equestrianisms, races, gymnastics, comedies and tombola games. In 1805 Napoleon assisted a bullfighting and in 1857 Emperor Franz Joseph participated to a tombola game.
My Corner of Italy

Istana Mahkota – Sultan’s Palace, Klang, Malaysia


A photo printed as a postcard so no publisher details or caption
c.1940

Between 1903 and 1957 there existed an older palace on the same site [as the palace of the Sultan of Selangor], known as Istana Mahkota Puri. It was built in 1903 during the rule of Sultan Sir Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah, who was the fifth Sultan of Selangor, and the design closely resembles the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur. The Sultan went on to live in the palace for 35 years until his death in 1938. In the 1950s it was briefly used as a student dorm for nearby schools. The palace was demolished in October 1957 and soon replaced by the present-day structure.
Wikipedia.

…taking the reign as Sultan Alaeddin Suleiman Shah, the grandson of Sultan Abdul Samad informed the State Council that he preferred for his seat to be in Klang instead of Jugra or Kuala Lumpur. . . Sultan Alaeddin found Klang’s fort too cramped for a palace site and the existing Malay graves there wasn’t much of a pull to him either. A 25-acre area along Langat Road was deemed suitable. With that site in mind, plans for Klang’s new palace was announced in the papers in October 1898. However, as you know, land matters are not always straight forward and so a new location had to be agreed upon. It was only by March 1899 that a final site was selected on a hill overlooking Klang’s recreation ground.
. . .
Records reveal that two design concepts were proposed by the team, one in a Mughal-Eclectic style reflecting the design of the New Government Office that Hubback and Row had worked on earlier. The other was in European style. Sultan Alaeddin selected the former, but his choice was met with slight resistance from the Secretary General, Henry Conway Belfield, as it was twice the allocated budget, sending Spooner’s team back to the drawing board to revise their design and estimates.

The Klang Istana was officially named as Istana Mahkota. Sultan Alaeddin was formally installed as the 5th Sultan of Selangor at the Istana in November 1903. Construction works at the palace however did not stop then. He had earlier in May 1903 insisted for a building extension, for which an additional $10,000 budget was approved.
Arthur Benison Hubback


Palace of the sultan at Klang near Kuala Lumpur, c.1910 Wikimedia Commons

From behind the veil of the harem peered a curious face, a feminine face, as you might imagine! Strangers in the palace of the Sultan of Selangor are a novelty, and the lady was evidently as curious about us as we, I must admit, were about her. Was she one of the 72-year-old Sultan’s several wives? We wondered.

While the Kangaroo was at Port Swettenham it was my good fortune to be permitted to see the handsome palace of His Highness the Sultan of Selangor, a fine building set on the crest of a green sloped hill at Klang, five miles from Port Swettenham.

One can’t help feeling a little flattered as a handsome, bearded Sikh slopes his bayoneted rifle and salutes at the entrance to the palace. And the surprise of this martial courtesy is still on you as you cross the cool, fern laden verandahs and enter the throne room. Even a man cannot repress a gasp of wonder at this exhibition of Oriental color and pomp. Against a glittering background stands the Sultan’s throne, richly ornamented and brilliantly colorful. Flanking it are the seats for the Resident, the High Commissioner and other dignitaries, all their chairs being richly upholstered in a vivid gold satin. Standing on the marble floor, I glanced round this big, luxurious room, and it was then that my eye caught a shadow behind the veil that my smiling Malay guide informed me in his perfect English was the entrance to the harem. Theshadow took more definite shape, a feminine head peered round the edge of the veil. I almost winked.

The Sultan was not home that afternoon. From this beautiful room we looked through the dining hall (where the photos of the King and Queen of England are displayed on the walls), the sitting room, where the Sultan sits with his wives—-but not always all together-—and then strolled down the slope to see the finest mosque in all Malaya.
Mirror, 23 December 1933, p. 4

The Sultan, who succeeded his father, who died a few months ago, will be crowned In the old palace at his capital, Klang. The Government suggested that a new palace be built before the coronation, but this will be held up until the revenues of the State increase.
Truth, 4 December 1938, p. 21

Church & boulevard, Tallinn, Estonia


TALLINN. Kaarli pulestee. | REVAL. Karls-Promenade
Postmarked 1926.

Google Street View.

Charles’s Church (Estonian: Kaarli kirik) is a Lutheran church in Tallinn, Estonia, built 1862-1870 to plans by Otto Pius Hippius. It is Tallinn’s grandest 19th-century church. Tõnismägi hill has been the location of a chapel probably since the 14th century. In 1670, during the time of Swedish rule, the Swedish King Charles XI commissioned the construction of a church on the site, for the use of the Estonian and Finnish population of Tallinn (as opposed to the Baltic German population). The church was named after the king. In 1710, during the Great Northern War, this first wooden church was burnt down. In the 19th century, reconstruction plans were put forward. Donations of money were started in the 1850s, and the cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1862. The church, still incomplete, was inaugurated in 1870. The two towers on the west side were enlarged in 1882.
Wikipedia.

Kaarli Boulevard is a part of the circle boulevard surrounding the Old Town. It was constructed as a 2‑lane road in the early 19th century. Later on, after the completion of the Kaarli Church the boulevard was widened up to a 4‑lane esplanade and fenced in on the outsides by a low iron fence. In 1912 and after the trees were planted on two outer sides of the boulevard as well. Therefore, in some places the boulevard got 6 lanes, though, the majority of the outer trees have unfortunately become extinct by now due to the environmental pollution.
Tallinn

Viru street & gate, Tallinn, Estonia


Tallinn. Viru tänav
Postmarked 1926

Google Street View.

The Walls of Tallinn are the medieval defensive walls constructed around the city of Tallinn in Estonia. The first wall around Tallinn was ordered to be constructed by Margaret Sambiria in 1265 and for that reason, it was known as the Margaret Wall. This wall was less than 5 metres (16 ft) tall and about 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) thick at its base. Since that time it has been enlarged and strengthened. The walls and the many gates are still largely extant today. This is one of the reasons that Tallinn’s old town became a World Heritage Site. The walls were enlarged in the fourteenth century, and citizens of Tallinn were required to turn out for guard duty, which meant to wear their armour and demonstrate their readiness to face off invaders.
Wikipedia.

The barbican of Viru Gate was part of the defence system of the Tallinn city wall built in the 14th century. A couple of centuries later, it already had 8 gates that consisted of several towers and curtain walls connecting them. The main tower of a gate was always square and the barbicans were equipped with one or two small round towers. As the entrances to the Old Town were widened, several gates were demolished. The Viru Gate had to pay its dues to a horse-drawn tram route that connected the Old Market with Kadriorg. However, the corner towers were preserved.
Visit Estonia

At one point in time, there were a total of 45 towers built into the walls that protected Tallinn. Twenty-six of those still remain. Two of the best preserved of the bunch are called Viru Gate. The gate dates from the 14th Century, as do most of the towers, and sits at the entrance way into the Old Town. . . . The towers used to be the fore gates to the city, and a larger set was built a little further in, which were held up by a set of square towers. Most of the gate was pulled down in 1880, in order to make room for more street traffic.
GPSMyCity


Tallinn. Viru värav
Postmarked 1926

Gold Mine, Burtville, Australia


Gaston & King’s G.M. Burtville W.A.
1910s

Google Maps.

Burtville is an abandoned town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, located 29 kilometres (18 mi) south east of Laverton. In 1897, Gold was discovered in the area by two prospectors, B. Frost and J. Trugurtha. The surveyor, J. Rowe, planned the town lots in accordance with the Goldfields Act in 1901. The settlement was initially known as Merolia which is the Indigenous Australian name for the district. The town was eventually named after the grandson of the first chief justice of the Western Australian Supreme Court, Sir Archibald Burt. Archibald Edmund Burt JP was the chief mining warden of the Mount Margaret Goldfield.
. . .
The population of the town and district rose to approximately 400 by 1903 as a result of gold mining. The town also had a water supply from a government well and a sealed pan sanitation system. A police station was opened in 1903 along with a school and two hotels. A ten stamp state battery and five stamp battery known as The Burtville Ore Reduction works were operated within the town from 1903 to 1906. Another privately owned ten stamp battery that allowed public access known as The sons of Westralia was also operating at the time. By 1916 the population had reduced to 45 and the police station was closed.
Wikipedia.

The Nil Desperandum was the original lease pegged on the field by its discoverers Billy Frost and James Tregurtha . . . in 1897. They gave the Nil Desperandum away, and instead worked the Wanderer lease for two years, which turned out a low grade affair. . . . From 1905 to at least 1920, Thomas King and Herbert Gaston owned the mine. Both appear to come from Adelaide, or least had residences in Adelaide during the period. King took no active part in the mine, relying on a dozen telegrams a day from Gaston, detailing all aspects of operations. Gaston was a former Major at Southern Cross, the postmaster at Burtville, and also a Justice of the Peace, which carried the responsibilities of a law judge in the town. The following is enlightening:

“Probably the most interesting thing at Burtville is the administration of the law. This is dealt out at periods when policeman Manning musters up a sufficient number of derelicts to warrant a court, over which an affiable party named Gaston, being the only J.P. in the district, presides in a building about the size of a couple of horse boxes. No matter how heinous the offence, the penalty rarely goes beyond the limit of a half a crown fine”. The writer goes on to say Gaston has to put up with the dregs of Burtville in his court, loathes his J.P role, and escapes as soon as he can back to his mine.

Around 1912, Gaston began expanding the lease, with neighbouring Surprise, Away from Home, Away from Home South, Golden Bell North, Adelaide, and Bateman Hill leases acquired. Development took place at least on the last three, and were said to be joined underground to the Nil Desperandum. In 1922, Gleeson and party, Richards and party, and Smith and party are all operating on the lease.
mindat.org

Sir,— I am sorry to have to trouble you again with one of my letters, but this one is not a personal letter. It is one for the public. I went to Burtville on Sunday to see Messrs. Gaston and King’s mine, the Nil Desperandum. I will give you my opinion of it as it looks now. I may be wrong, but I will give it. Mr. Gaston, the manager, was very kind to me and showed me around. The dump for the battery to look at it one would pass it by, as it does not look any different from any other, but when you break the stone or lode matter you can see gold in most of it. The battery will tell, and if I am not mistaken it will astonish the mining world. We went down ladders for 50ft. Then 40ft. or 50ft. west is the golden belt. It is not a reef, nor is it a lode. I don’t know what to call it. It has been driven on for 56ft. and they are not through it. Mr. Gaston knocked down about 50lb. of stone at the end of the 56ft. which showed splendid fine gold. It may go on for 50ft. or 100ft. more. There are no signs of any large stones whatever. As it looks now it means wonderful discovery for the mining world. I think it will be worked by an open cut, as it may be 100ft. wide. If it turns out as it looks it means another Kalgoorlie. The formation is on the west side of the general working on the lease. The work done on the lease is a credit to the holders. There is nothing whatever to lead one to believe such a thing was below. There are no signs of a reef of any kind. The shaft was put down, and the drive put in for mining exploring, and the explorers got their reward, which they must be given great credit for. Mr. Gaston takes things very quietly; yet he must know what it means to him and to the public also. Of course no one can tell until it is opened up, but one thing is certain, and that is that it is not a rich patch only. — Yours, etc.,
F. H. HANN,
Nambrook, 17th September.
This letter is taken from the last issue of the “Laverton Mercury,” and the hope of the many, friends of Messrs. Gaston and King is that Mr. Hannwill prove to be a true prophet.
Coolgardie Miner, 4 October 1913

Innisfallen Abbey, Innisfallen, Ireland


Innisfallen Oratory
Publisher closed 1906, but card dated 1912
Publiser: John Evelyn Wrench

Google Street View (approximate).

Innisfallen Abbey is located on a picturesque island on the lake of Lough Leane (“Lake of Learning”) in Killarney national park. Tradition holds that it was founded in the 6th Century as a leper colony by Saint Fionán (Saint Finnian), whose life was dedicated to tending the sick. The church was later established as an Augustinian priory, and quickly became a centre for education in the early Christian world. It’s greatest scholar was the monk Maelsuthain O’Carroll (‘chief doctor of the Western world’), who gained great eminence and respect amongst contemporary princes. He was friend to the famous king Brain Boru, and it is claimed that in the 10th Century, the king was educated under Maelsuthain’s care at Innisfallen, and Maelsuthain is later named as the king’s counsellor during his reign. Innisfallen’s remote location did not protect it entirely from the outside world. It was twice raided by Vikings, and in 1180AD, it was plundered by Maiilduin, son of Donal O’Donoghue. The monks quickly recovered from this setback, and the church continued to flourish as a centre of learning.
. . .
Although the abbey was formally dissolved in 1540AD, passing into the hands of Richard Harding, it is not known whether it was abandoned at this time. The monks of neighbouring Muckross Abbey remained in residence until the 1580s, and the remote location of Innisfallen may have allowed it some respite. It is know to have been abandoned by the time Oliver Cromwell’s troops ravaged Ireland, however, in the mid 17th Century.

Isle of Albion

While the abbey dates back to the seventh century, the oldest extant structure, dated to the tenth century, is the western two-thirds of the abbey church. The remainder of the church and the main abbey complex were constructed in the thirteenth century. A third structure, an oratory with a Hiberno-Romanesque doorway, dates from the twelfth century.
Wikipedia.

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna


On back:
Ehem. kaiserl. Lustschloß Schönbrunn. Wien.
Chinesisches. Rundkabinett.
Schoenbrunn, the Old Imperial Castle of Pleasure.
Chinese Rotunda.
Ancien château de plaisance impérial de Schoenbrunn. Vienne.
Rotonde chinoise.

c. 1930
Publisher (artist): Johann Jaunbersin

Schönbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, located in Hietzing, Vienna. The name Schönbrunn (meaning “beautiful spring”) has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court. The 1,441-room Rococo palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. . . . The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodelled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz I commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today. Franz Joseph, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria, was born at Schönbrunn and spent a great deal of his life there. He died there, at the age of 86, on 21 November 1916. Following the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy in November 1918, the palace became the property of the newly founded Austrian Republic and was preserved as a museum.
Wikipedia.

After the death of Emperor Ferdinand II in 1637, the estate became the dower residence of his art-loving widow, who needed the appropriare architectural setting for her busy social life. She therefore had a château de plaisance built around 1642, which was accompanied by the renaming of the Katterburg to Schoenbrunn, a change of name first documented in the same year. In 1683 the château de plaisance and its deer park fell victim to the depredations of Turkish troops during the siege of Vienna. From 1686 the estate was in the possession of Emperor Leopold I, who decided that he would make the estate over to his son and heir Joseph, and have a splendid new residence built for him.

Soon afterwards the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, an architect who had received his training in Rome and had been recommended by patrons from the nobility, arrived at court. In 1688 he presented the Emperor with a preliminary set of designs for a new palace, the so-called Schoenbrunn I-Project, and in 1693 Leopold I commissioned concrete plans for the construction of a grand hunting lodge, on which work started in 1696. The new edifice was partly built on the existing foundations of the château de plaisance that had been destroyed by the Turks. The construction of the lateral wings was delayed from 1701 owing to the War of the Spanish Succession and the attendant financial constraints, and came to a complete halt after Joseph’s sudden death.
Schönbrunner Schlossstraße Knozerta

To either side of the Small Gallery are the East Asian Cabinets, until recently known erroneously as Chinese cabinets. Only the right-hand cabinet can correctly be termed Chinese in reference to the Chinese porcelain displayed there, while the left-hand east cabinet should be referred to as the Japanese Oval Cabinet. Both rooms have a distinctly intimate character and were used by Maria Theresa for small social gatherings, for example for playing cards. Before the rooms were decorated as we see them today, the Round Cabinet was used as a small conference room, in which the so-called ‘tables de conspiration‘ took place. These were secret conferences at which meals were served to the participants by means of a moveable table winched up from the room on the floor below, so that they would not be disturbed or eavesdropped upon by the servants.
Schloss Schönbrunn

Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York


Across the parade, Old Fort, Niagara, N.Y.
On back:
Old Fort Niagara was restored by cooperative efforts between the War Department of the United States and the Old Fort Niagara Association. Inc., a non-profit making association organized by patriotic societies and civic interests of the Niagara Frontier. The Association is dedicated to the work of directing attention to the vast international significance of restored Old Fort Niagara as a shrine symbolizing the history of common interests of three great nations in the evolution from early American struggle and strife to lasting peace; and to the use of Old Fort Niagara for the objective teaching of local history.
1930s
Publisher: “Distributed by and available through the Old Fort Niagara Assn., Inc., Youngstown, N.Y.”

Google Street View.

Fort Niagara was originally built in 1678 to protect the interests of New France in America, but later became a significant military outpost during the French and Indian War and the War of 1812. Standing on a bluff above Lake Ontario not far from Niagara Falls, Old Fort Niagara has dominated the entrance to the Niagara River since 1726. The colorful history of the site began even earlier, and continues to the present day. The fort played an important role in the struggles of France, Great Britain, and the United States to control the Great Lakes region of North America, and also helped shape the destinies of the Iroquois (Six Nations) peoples and the nation of Canada.
American Heritage

The French established the first post here, Fort Conti, in 1679. Its successor, Fort Denonville (1687-88) was equally short lived. In 1726 France finally erected a permanent fortification with the construction of the impressive “French Castle.” Britain gained control of Fort Niagara in 1759, during the French & Indian War, after a nineteen-day seige. The British held the post throughout the American Revolution but were forced, by treaty, to yield it to the United States in 1796. Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813. It was ceded to the United States a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. This was Fort Niagara’s last armed conflict, and it thereafter served as a peaceful border post. The garrison expanded beyond the walls following the Civil War. Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars.
Old Fort Niagara


Council Chamber of Sir William Johnson, French Castle, Niagara, N.Y.
On back:
Old Fort Niagara was restored by cooperative efforts between the War Department of the United States and the Old Fort Niagara Association. Inc., a non-profit making association organized by patriotic societies and civic interests of the Niagara Frontier. The Association is dedicated to the work of directing attention to the vast international significance of restored Old Fort Niagara as a shrine symbolizing the history of common interests of three great nations in the evolution from early American struggle and strife to lasting peace; and to the use of Old Fort Niagara for the objective teaching of local history.
1930s
Publisher: “Distributed by and available through the Old Fort Niagara Assn., Inc., Youngstown, N.Y.”

The French Castle is the oldest and largest building at Old Fort Niagara and the oldest building in the Great Lakes Basin. It was built by the French in 1726-7 and was designed to house up to 60 soldiers. The Castle, called La Maison a Machicoulis by the French, incorporated barracks space for soldiers, officers quarters, a trade room. chapel, storerooms, powder magazine and bakery.
Old Fort Niagara


“Corps de Garde”, French Castle, Niagara, N.Y.
On back:
Old Fort Niagara was restored by cooperative efforts between the War Department of the United States and the Old Fort Niagara Association. Inc., a non-profit making association organized by patriotic societies and civic interests of the Niagara Frontier. The Association is dedicated to the work of directing attention to the vast international significance of restored Old Fort Niagara as a shrine symbolizing the history of common interests of three great nations in the evolution from early American struggle and strife to lasting peace; and to the use of Old Fort Niagara for the objective teaching of local history.
1930s
Publisher: “Distributed by and available through the Old Fort Niagara Assn., Inc., Youngstown, N.Y.”

The Castle was equipped with two guard rooms, one on the first floor for the on-duty guard and one on the second floor (shown here). Soldiers in the upstairs room had mattresses, sheets, and blankets and could cook meals in the fireplace. The first floor guardroom was quite a bit more spartan.
Old Fort Niagara

Chinese Telephone Excahgne, San Francisco, USA


Interior Chinese Telephone Excahgne, Chinatown, San Francisco, Calif.
On the back:
CHINATOWN’S TELEPHNE EXCHANGE BUILDING
San Franciscos’s quaint Chinatown Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. building was erected in 1909 to conform with Chinese architectural traditions. It hours what is believe to be the only Chinese Telephone exchange outside of China itself.
1940s
Publisher: Stanley A. Plitz Company, San Francisco (1930s-1950s)

Google Street View.

In 1891, the first public telephone pay station was installed in Chinatown. In 1894, a small switchboard was set up to serve subscribers to the telephone system. Since people were often asked for by name rather than by number, telephone operators memorized and knew each subscriber by name. This made telephone numbers unnecessary. The Chinatown community felt it was rude to refer to people by numbers. Operators also knew the address and occupations of subscribers so they could distinguish between two people with the same name. In addition, they had to speak five Chinese dialects and English.

Although the offices of the exchange were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, they were rebuilt afterwards, and remained in operation until 1949. The exchange was closed in 1949, when technology changed from switchboard-operator system to rotary-dial telephones. The Bank of Canton bought and restored the building in 1960.
Chinatown, San Franciso

One of the most Interesting features of the rebuilding of San Francisco’s famed Chinatown is the new telephone exchange building to handle’ tho largo -number of calls from that quarter. Tho building is designed on Oriental lines, and when completed will be ornamented with dragons and other symbolical Chinese characters. The Chinese are great users of the telephone. and their language is cumbersome, and they would rather talk over the phone than write letters. The. operators will be Chinese boys, Chinese girls being at a premium.
[Sydney] Sunday Times, 26 September 1909

The telephone exchange in Chinatown, San Francisco, is unique, being strikingly Oriental in both its exterior and interior details, and operated wholly by Chinese. The building has three pagodas, giving it the appearance of the hone of Chinaman of rank, and aside from the sign above the door and the telephone apparatus within, is entirely Chinese. The manager of the exchange is an American-born Chinaman and the switchboard operators are chine boys and girls. The exchanges now take care of 800 subscribers’ lines. The Chinese part of the San Francisco telephone directory is arranged by names of streets, instead of by numbers, and a caller gives the name of the firm or individual he wishes to reach.
[Sydney] Globe, 11 January 1913

Just around the corner from Grant at Washington was the venerable Chinese Telephone Exchange at 743 Washington (map). It opened in 1901 at which time, pre dialling, the operators had to know all of the Chinatown customers by name and address because it was considered rude to refer to a person by number. Each operator also had to speak the many dialects of Chinese spoken by the residents. It was no surprise perhaps that the original male operators were soon replaced by women, on account of their “good temper”.
Reel SF (has more pictures)