The largest Chinese community outside of Asia, and the oldest in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown packs a punch of history and culture. Officially within the boundaries of downtown, Chinatown retains its own local government, traditions, places of worship, and social clubs. Established in 1848 when Chinese immigrant workers began arriving in the city, the neighborhood is now home to hundreds of restaurants, tea and herb shops, produce and fish markets, and stores of all varieties. But this area wasn’t always the upbeat tourist attraction it is today. Racial tension in the 1870s and subsequent discriminatory legislation like the Chinese Exclusion Act resulted in periods of violence, gambling, and even “Tong Wars” within the confines of this city-within-a-city. But the community endured and thrived, surviving earthquakes, fires, and even failed plans for relocation. Every corner seems steeped in history and mystery. Transport yourself to Hong Kong with a meander through Stockton Street’s produce markets. Watch Tai Chi in Portsmouth Squre. Stroll through Spofford and Ross Alleys and Waverly Place for a look at life beyond the tourist attractions. This cultural gem is a true delight.
The oldest Chinatown in the US, this area is worth walking around, for people watching (locals, and tourists), or buying. Some of the stuff is a little touristy, but the whole area reminded me of when I worked in Asia. It felt authentic, and had it not been for the cable car tracks it could (just) have been Beijing.
Chinatown and More Nearby
San Francisco, California 94133