The Gateway to Chinatown
Chinatown in San Francisco is an iconic cultural area, and functions as something of a city inside of a city. It’s the backdrop for such films as The Maltese Falcon, The Dead Pool and Big Trouble in Little China, as well as the birthplace of legendary actor/martial artist Bruce Lee. More importantly, it’s the largest Chinese community in the world outside of Asia and the longest standing Chinatown in North America.
Chinatown is in a convenient location near The Financial District, so it’s not too hard to walk there from a variety of San Francisco Hotels. Chinatown plays host to many attractions, restaurants being perhaps the most prominent. Chinatown is considered the birthplace of “Americanized” Chinese cuisine, which is popular all over the world. There are many traditional Chinese restaurants to be found as well. There are many wonders to be found in Chinatown, and if you look one block west of the main drag you’ll find Stockton Street, which will give you a little glimpse of how the locals actually live their lives.
Chinatown thrives because it retains its own culture, language, identity and places of worship. There’s a wealth of information to be had at The Chinese Historical Society of America and The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. Both of these institutions also offer tours of the area and hold events throughout the year. Though there is food to be eaten and shopping to be done in Chinatown, the real experience comes from leaning about its rich history and the people that live there.
Grant Street is the main thoroughfare of Chinatown, and the southern entrance is marked by the Dragon Gate. This Gateway Arch was designed by Joe Yee, Clayton Lee and Melvin H. Lee and erected in 1970. The arch eschews wooden pillars in favor of traditional stone and green tiled roofing. It features an inscription that reads “All under heaven is for the good of the people,” which is attributed to Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Though there’s a lot to see and do once you get beyond the Dragon Gate, it’s a sight and experience that’s sure to stay with you for many years to come. Be sure to take a photo.
Wesley McDonald is a proud San Francisco resident who enjoys blogging about travel, culture, the hospitality industry and life in the city. He is an online publisher for sanfranciscohotelguides.com
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