Chinatown in San Francisco is the epitome of San Francisco’s culturally diverse neighborhood. For decades, San Francisco’s Chinatown was the largest community of Chinese outside of Asia as as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. The residents of Chinatown have created a thriving community that retains much of its Chinese culture and is the second most popular destination for tourists around the world (after the Golden Gate Bridge).
Centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street in San Francisco, it is one of the top tourist attraction that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. This side of San Francisco is charming in itself thanks to the many ornamented houses, shops and eateries. There is no need for a detailed itinerary to tackle Chinatown. Wandering aimlessly, weaving between locals and ducking into shops is enough of a plan.
Today’s Chinatown used to be the port of entry for early Chinese immigrants from the Guangdong province of southern China during the 1850’s to the early 1900’s. The early settlers of the place were predominantly Hoisanese and male who were shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and hired workers in San Francisco. The neighborhood was completely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake that leveled most of the city. It was rebuilt afterwards and on 1912, the famous Sam Wo restaurant opened.
Today, San Francisco’s Chinatown is home to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (known as the Chinese Six Companies), which is the umbrella organization for local Chinese family and regional associations in Chinatown.
Touring the Place
Many tourists head over to Chinatown expecting to be stunned and enchanted and stuffed with great food. And they will. There are so many unique shops, beautiful temples, pagoda roofs dragon parades and restaurants visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world.
Probably the most photographed attraction in Chinatown is the Chinatown Gate. It is also known as the Dragon Gate and is located in Grant Street at the southern edge of Chinatown. The gate has three passageways. Traditionally, the large, central one is meant for dignitaries while the two smaller passageways are meant for the common people.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
There are many fortune cookie bakeries around the area but this is the only place where fortune cookies are handmade the traditional way. Some 20,000 fortune cookies are produced each day by two women, each manning a conveyor belt of what look like miniature waffle irons. Tourists are welcome to stroll in the shop, sample the cookies and buy a bag for only $3. If you want to stop by the place it is open seven days a week from 8 a. m. to 6 p.m.Location and contact no.: 56 Ross Alley, (415) 781-3956.
A picturesque street full of sights and smells to overwhelm you. If you want to pay the majestic temples of Chinatown a visit, then this is the place to be.Location: Parallel to Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, between Washington and Sacramento streets.
Known as the “Heart of Chinatown”, Portsmouth Square is rich with history as marked by statues, markers, and plaques sprinkled throughout the square. The Chinatown Night Market Fair is held here too.
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