San Francisco’s Chinatown: your guide on what to see and where to eat

There’s a eastern quarter in most major American cities. But the San Francisco Chinatown and the oldest and largest so much so that around 100 thousand people still live here today. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in the city in 1848; in 1853 it was erected, in Chinatown, the first Presbyterian church for Asians. In 1859, a Chinese school was opened because they could not legally attend public schools. Yes, because over time it cannot be said that the welcome for those arriving fromFar East has always been friendly and several laws have been passed to make life for Chinese communities as difficult as the California Anti-Coolie Tax or the various ordinances approved to limit the Chinese’s housing and work opportunities.

Racism and San Francisco’s Chinatown

In 1880 a law was even passed, which can only be defined as racist, which forbade Chinese and Europeans to marry among them. In 1900 the dispensary was opened Tung Wah in San Francisco’s Chinatown as proof that the Chinese community has continued to struggle and try to fit in despite efforts to push it back. Thus arose one Chamber of Commerce Chinese, a YMCAwhich is a Young Men’s Christian Association aimed at Chinese residents, libraries, Chinese schools, churches and even one Chinese Historical Society of America which he reconstructs, in a red building at number 965 Clay Street the story of the community from the first arrivals. And it helps to understand the difficulties of integration.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is now a thriving community that maintains a close bond with its customs, language and traditions. The entrance to the neighborhood traditionally takes place through the Dragon door, that is Dragon Gate which is reached from Grant Avenue, the most important street in Chinatown. The door was donated to San Francisco directly from Republic of China as a symbol of bonding.


Shops, workshops and traditions

Once inside, you dive into a lively microcosm made of shops and warehouses, traditional medicine shops and temples or of course many restaurants and even a fortune cookie factory, the classic sweets to give for a special occasion. There Fortune Cookie Factory of San Francisco’s Chinatown has been active since 1962 and still produces over 20,000 fortune cookies a day by hand. Not easy to find but worth a stop and located behind a small shop up Ross Alley.

Another classic stage is ahead of the Sing Chong Buildingbetween California Street and Grant Avenue and was the first building rebuilt after the terrible earthquake and fire that brought the city to its knees in 1906.

Another site rich in history, the subject of a thousand photos of tourists, is that of Bank of Canton which was actually the the city’s first telephone exchange in 1891 and from 1894 he unified the various switchboards to reach the then few subscribers to the telephone service. Operators had to memorize each subscriber by name, address and profession and know five languages ​​and dialects. The building was restored after the 1906 earthquake and remained a telephone switchboard until 1949 when technology made it obsolete.

The houses with colored facades

Continuing the walk in Chinatown you will sooner or later come to Waverly Placea very charming street known as la Away from the painted balconies. It is useless to explain the reasons but instead it is worth saying that you will seem to have already seen it. That’s it: here they shot the scenes of many films but from around here you can also enjoy beautiful views of the below financial district of the city.

Finally, a tribute to the temple Tien Hau which is the oldest Taoist temple of Chinatown and was founded in 1852 by the association of Canton Chinese. Remember that the real temple is located on the fourth floor and is worth the climb up the stairs to immerse yourself in the silent atmosphere of a place of worship full of incense and red and gold.

Where to eat in San Francisco’s Chinatown

The choice is obviously wide and there are very simple places, tea rooms, small restaurants with a shabby appearance and excellent, almost luxurious places. If you want to get into the spirit of the neighborhood, enter one of the many small ones places specialized in dim sum and don’t get too formalized on Spartan style and a sense of rough cleanliness. Among those to try there is certainly theHang Ah Tea Room, in Pagoda Place: it is very old and does not betray expectations. If you want a more complete experience choose the instead China Live that in some moments it can appear a bedlam. But it’s fun and the food is good.San Francisco Chinatown

There are tables and stools a stone’s throw from the stove and duck and pig they are excellent (644 Broadway). Less chaotic but decidedly original is the family restaurant Hunan Home, a local favorite for generous portions and reasonable prices. The menu is extensive and includes most of the Chinese classics with some American influences. It is located in 622 Jackson Street.

Finally, if you are hungry at night in San Francisco’s Chinatown, head straight for Sam Wo. It opened in 1907 and closes at three in the morning on weekends. People come here for the noodles and flavorful beef. Low prices. It is located at 713 Clay Street.

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