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Old September 23rd, 2011, 02:40 PM   #1
xzmattzx
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San Francisco: Chinatown

Chinatown is a neighborhood west of San Francisco's Financial District. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Bush Street to the south, Powell Street to the west, Broadway to the north, and Kearny Street to the east. San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest, largest, and arguably the most famous Chinese enclave in the United States, and maybe in all of the world outside of Asia.

Chinatown was first settled by the Chinese in the 1850s, when 30,000 emigrated over from Guangdong Province to participate in the Gold Rush. Many settled in this area uphill from Portsmouth Square, where the city was begun in the previous decade. More Chinese men came over in the 1860s and 1870s to build the railroads in California. With so many Chinese on the West Coast, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882 to prevent more immigration. Other laws limiting the freedoms of Chinese effectively pushed these men into one 12-block area that became the center of the neighborhood.

Like other parts of the city, Chinatown was almost completely destroyed by the Earthquake of 1906. After the earthquake, city officials planned on moving Chinatown to Hunter's Point, and having the now-desirable land be open for Whites to build on. The Chinese resisted, and built feverishly in the same spot to preserve their area. Many buildings at this time used

Over time, laws that forced the Chinese to live in Chinatown, prevented men from bringing over their wives, or prohibited the emigration of more Chinese, were relaxed and lifted. Chinese Americans now have the ability to move about freely in the country like anyone else, many have left for integrated neighborhoods and suburbs. Now, only the elderly and poor live here. Neighborhood businesses that catered almost exclusively to other Chinese now have given way to tourism. The tourist industry is so successful that the neighborhood has almost become a parody of itself. Still, Chinatown flourishes and remains one of San Francisco's most recognized landmarks.


The Dragon Gate, over Grant Avenue at its interscetion with Bush Street.



The gateway arch was built in 1970 and marks the southern boundary of Chinatown.



Businesses on Grant Avenue.



St. Mary's Square, from Pine Street. The square is used throughout the year as one of the neighborhood's places to gather and host special events.



Businesses on Grant Avenue.



The Sing Chong Bazaar, meaning "living prosperity", on the northwest corner of Grant Avenue & California Street.



The Sing Chong building was built in 1910 and helped lead the way in use of Chinese architecture in the neighborhood.



The Sing Fat Bazaar, on the southwest corner of Grant Avenue & California Street. The bazaar, which means "living riches", was built in 1910.



St. Mary's Church, on California Street at Grant Avenue. The church was built in 1854 and was San Francisco's first Catholic cathedral. St. Mary's served as the cathedral for the Diocese of San Francisco until 1894.



Restaurants on Grant Avenue.



A Bank of America branch, at Grant Avenue & Sacramento Street. The structure was built in 1906. The branch uses traditional Chinese architecture in its design. Above the bank branch is the Gold Mountain Monastery.



Buildings on Sacramento Street. The Yeong Wo Building, built in 1928 for the Yeong Wo Benevolent Association, is to the right of center.



Businesses on Grant Avenue.



Buildings on Commercial Street, with the Financial District in the background.



The Shanghai Bazaar, on Grant Avenue. The structure was built in 1920.



A building on Grant Avenue at Clay Street, built in 1907.



Looking down Waverly Place. Despite being only two blocks long, several Buddhist temples are located on the alleyway.



Waverly Place was known as "the street of painted balconies" for its many balconies that give the alley a dense look that could be found throughout China.



Buildings on Clay Street at Waverly Place.



Looking up the narrow Spofford Alley.



The Kong Chow Temple and Benevolent Association, on Stockton Street at Clay Street. The temple was founded in 1851 and moved to this location in 1977. Barely visible on the left is the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association building. The group, informally known as the Chinese Six Companies, was formed in 1882 to help conduct business with non-Chinese.



Buildings on Stockton Street. On the left is the Hop Wo Benevolent Association Building, built in 1908. On the right is the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, the oldest Asian American Christian congregation in the United States, built in 1907.



The Chinese United Methodist Church, at Stockton & Washington Streets. The church was established in 1873.



Businesses on Washington Street, from Stockton Street.



Signs in Chinese hang from just about every building, giving a look similar to that of a crowded street in one of China's major cities.



Buildings on Washington Street.



Many buildings in Chinatown have Chinese writing on tablets near the doorways. This tablet, for instance, thanks a Hong Kong businessman for raising money in his city to purchase the building and then give for use as a hospital.



Many restaurants also have ducks hanging in the windows, to showcase the food available.



Chinatown architecture on Washington Street. On the left is the Sam Wo Restaurant, established in 1907 and the narrowest restaurant in the neighborhood.



The EastWest Bank branch, on Washington Street. The bank was originally the China Telephone Exchange and was built in 1909. The telephone exchange is the oldest Asian ediface in the neighborhood and helped set the tone for Chinatown's architecture after the 1906 earthquake.



One of the many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, this one on Washington Street.



Portsmouth Square, located along Kearny Street between Washington & Sacramento Streets.



Portsmouth Square was the site where Yerba Buena, later renamed San Francisco, was started in 1846. It was here that Capt. John B. Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth raised the U.S. flag near the Mexican custom house. In 1848, the announcement of gold was made here, beginning the Gold Rush.

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Old September 24th, 2011, 10:38 PM   #2
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Nice tour! It's kind of a throwback to a different erea but where else can you eat in SF for under $5?
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Old September 25th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #3
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How freaking exotic! San Francisco in its entirety seems so foreign to me, even though it's located in the same country.

Brilliant pics
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Old September 25th, 2011, 11:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post


I love San Francisco, my friend and I dined at this restaurant during our visit to the area.
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Old December 10th, 2011, 02:32 PM   #5
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xzmattzx, nice job on the history/info of SF Chinatown. Great pics as well. I'm from the bay area and have been there many times. I got to say that I've enjoyed reading this and looking thru the pics. Thank you.
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Old January 26th, 2012, 08:51 AM   #6
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Angel Island is an important visit for all wanting to learn about Chinese immigration. And what is seldom mentioned is the practical engineering Chinese workers supplied to the challenges of rail, and later, dam projects.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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I've stayed at the Triton Hotel (part of the Kimpton chain) that's right across from the China Gate. (Technically it's not inside Chinatown, but all you have to do is cross the street.) It's a terrific little boutique-type hotel, with lots of personalized attention. They've decorated it around a rockstar theme so there's quite a lot of garish colors (on purpose) throughout. Rooms called The Grace Slick Suite, etc. Enjoyable place to stay.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 10:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I've stayed at the Triton Hotel (part of the Kimpton chain) that's right across from the China Gate . . . . They've decorated it around a rockstar theme so there's quite a lot of garish colors (on purpose) throughout. Rooms called The Grace Slick Suite, etc. Enjoyable place to stay.
That's a Monoco trademark (the garish colors). I stayed in the Monaco in Chicago--same. Did you have a bowl of goldfish? That's another thing they used to do but I wondered how the animal rights people let them.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 10:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertpunk View Post
Nice tour! It's kind of a throwback to a different erea but where else can you eat in SF for under $5?
Truth be told, plenty of places. Most of us poor folks live on burritos:


http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/1ULAx...Nj-Yh2THlKuG9A

OK--so you might have to stretch that fiver a bit but that's true at Chinese places too.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 10:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post

Portsmouth Square was the site where Yerba Buena, later renamed San Francisco, was started in 1846.
Technically speaking, Yerba Buena was the village while the mission (still there) a few miles away was Mission San Francisco de Asis (another mile or two way was the military fort, the Presidio). I suspect the community that grew up around the mission was more successful than the village. In any case, its name prevailed.
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Old May 15th, 2012, 06:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbkayaker12 View Post
I love San Francisco, my friend and I dined at this restaurant during our visit to the area.
That restaurant called "Cathay House " , I was reading that is one of the worst restaurants in China Town and in SF , I will be ther in SF on june , it will be my first time in the US , And I am really sure that I am not going to that restaurant , Greets from argentina
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Old May 16th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #12
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That restaurant called "Cathay House " , I was reading that is one of the worst restaurants in China Town and in SF , I will be ther in SF on june , it will be my first time in the US , And I am really sure that I am not going to that restaurant , Greets from argentina
Use "Yelp" for restaurant selection--it's not perfect but it's at least a place to get ideas and keep you away from the really awful places: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc...lt=restaurants

Incidentally, Cathay House gets an average review of 2 stars out of 5 (with lots of one-star reviews, something you rarely see). Sorry to its fans.
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Old July 5th, 2012, 04:41 PM   #13
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Finally i was there in June , it was wonderful , I fall in love with SF , And for sure I will be back soon !
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Old July 13th, 2012, 12:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triodegradable View Post
That restaurant called "Cathay House " , I was reading that is one of the worst restaurants in China Town and in SF , I will be ther in SF on june , it will be my first time in the US , And I am really sure that I am not going to that restaurant , Greets from argentina

Too bad for San Francisco, their Cathay House is lousy. Our Cathay House in Vegas is highly rated by Zagat.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 03:57 AM   #15
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its so nice and intesresting

Last edited by Polarsircle; December 4th, 2012 at 08:04 AM.
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