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Opium Den, San Francisco, 1900

Opium Den, San Francisco, 1900

C023/7745

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Credit

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Postcard showing an underground opium den in San Francisco, pre-1906 earthquake. By 1896, there were around 300 opium dens in San Francisco, mostly in Chinatown. Opium is a narcotic drug obtained from the seeds of the opium poppy. It contains the chemicals morphine and codeine, as well as other alkaloids. The opium resin from the poppy is processed, and then burned in pipes. The smoker inhales the vapours from the burning resin. Opium is an addictive drug. In the 19th century and the early 20th century, opium smoking was common worldwide, especially in Asia, which was one of the sources of the opium poppy.

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