Grant Avenue, between Bush Street and Broadway is the main tourist street of Chinatown. The avenue is lined with dragon-entwined lamp posts and buildings that borrow elements from Chinese architecture, with towers and curved rooftops. Grant Avenue is an odd mix of souvenir shops for tourists, restaurants, banks etc. The parallel Stockton Street seems to cater more for the local Chinese community.
The Chinatown gate can be found at the intersection of Bush St. and Grant Avenue. It has three beautifully ornated arches and is guarded by two lions. Its design was inspired after ceremonial entrances of Chinese villages. The materials were provided by the Taiwan government and the design belongs to Clayton Lee. The gate opened in 1970. Once you pass through it, you'll find yourself surrounded by a multitude of shops selling souvenirs, jewelry, electronics, artwork etc.
I've been to many cultural areas, but I would have to say this is a first for me to see. You go to some towns and they might have a historical building or two, but I was amazed how many beautiful buildings or blocks are being preserved. FANTASTIC!!! What a lovely place to walk and explore. So many beautiful and historical businesses, shops, and restaurants to enjoy!
Dedicated on October 18th 1970. This gate is the only authentic Chinatown Gate in North America. The gate is based on the ceremonial gates that can be found in Chinese villages, called paifang. The gate is adorned with sculptures of fish and dragons and is flanked by two large lion statues or fou lions, which are meant to thwart evil-spirits. The gate has three passageways. The large, central one is meant for dignitaries while the two smaller passageways are meant for the common people. Taiwan provided materials for the gate, but the design is by Chinese-American architect Clayton Lee, whose design apparently won a contest in the late 1960s. The two-tiered, pagoda-style structure was built according to principles of feng shui, which dictate (among other things) that a city’s grandest gate must face south, and — though somewhat dwarfed by the larger buildings around it — that it does. A wooden plaque hangs from the central archway, on which stand gilded characters rendering a quote from the “Father of Modern China”, the revered revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat Sen: “ALL UNDER HEAVEN IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE”
Usually a male lion is on the left with the right paw on a ball – the symbol of unity of the Chinese empire –
and a female lion on the right with a cub under the left paw – a symbol of offspring. Another explanation is that the male is guarding the structure and the female protects those dwelling inside the building.http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/chinatown-san-francisco-may-11-2012.html
The streets here are often crowded and the people get reallllllly close to you ... so it's a risk of pick pockets so be careful ... love shopping here. Some good prices and it's common to dicker ... which takes time and patients. my husband hates that but I'm ok with it. Bought some jewery the stones were nice but the setting was cheaply done.
San Francisco Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia . It is also the oldest Chinatown in North America. A trip to SF isn't complete without a visit to Chinatown and its array of shops, restaurants and attractions.
Our last visit to Chinatown was in May 2016. My wife and I had an amazing lunch at the R&G Lounge with our friend Mikey. We enjoyed on some of their Salt & Pepper Dungeness Crab and S&P Prawns. The crab was amazing and I think it is a must try when visiting Chinatown. We also did a bit of shopping and stopped to get my wife her favorite Bubble Tea.
The most amazing colourful buildings in Chinatown. The largest Chinatown outside Asia and the oldest of North America. I've read somewhere that the earliest Chinese immigrants - two men and one woman -arrived in the city of San Francisco in 1848. It is also perhaps interesting to note that the Chinese fortune cookie was invented by one of the town's Japanese (!) residents (source: Mentalfloss).
Who saw one Chinatown in America has seen them all.
I saw many, but this one was my favorite. Small, clean, nice smell (well... not so bad!), some beautiful buildings, and as expected, chinese goods at almost chinese prices.
Furthermore, as we met winter in August being prepared for summer, a chinese coat was welcome.
Take a wander through the park, back streets and alleys for a taste of where the Chinese community lives, shops and socializes. This is not Grant Avenue, with its wall-to-wall souvenir shops and tourist-mobbed sidewalks, but dim little corridors of commerce - and long-ago prostitution, opium and gambling dens. Much of today's Chinatown is elderly and poor, the younger generation gradually migrating to the suburbs, and many live in single-room tenements above street- level shops and markets. Above your head is a clutter of fire escapes and laundry, and through open windows and doorways is the clatter of countless mahjong games. You'll pass by tiny groceries, herbalists, tea rooms, restaurants, fraternal halls, temples and even a fortune cookie factory.
Portsmouth Square is to this community what the piazza is to Italians. Once a Spanish plaza, this green space above a massive, underground parking garage is the gathering spot for grandfathers to throw games of dice, grandmothers to stretch though morning tai chi exercises, children to run the playground and others to just chat in the sunshine. You might run into a festival or flea market here and it's a fun spot for watching the activity over a take-away dim sum lunch.
Alleys/backstreets: see website for complete list but a good walk is to head north on Hang Ah St. at Stockton, jog 1/2 block right to Spofford St. at Clay, and another small jog right at Washington to Ross Alley. Also the 2 blocks of Waverly Place - next block east of Hang Ah.
Portsmouth Square: corner of Clay and Kearny or Kearny and Washington.
I've never been to china town in New York but this was very interesting. It's crowded with oriental people rushing around and speaking there language. The shops had some really different thing ... dead duck in the windows, One shop had bins of things you make into tea ... all these died flowers and mysterious stuff ... how fun. I had some .. I guess it was a pastry in a shop there .. .It wasn't very good.
My favorite thing there was shopping for jewelry ... I bought some lovely pieces for very good price. Often the settings were thin but the stones are very nice. They had so huge stones if you like large jewelry. There are several places for pearl necklaces .. .you pick the size and colors of the pearl and what length and style you want the necklace to be .. they string it for you. Got souvenirs there for both our moms. They love their colored pearl necklaces a lot and the prices were very reasonable. In most of the jewelry shops the price is not in stone ... if you have the time and patients you will get the price down considerably.
get off the path & streets and walk into the alleys
If you want to know more about it.. ask an expert... not me..
I just wander around blindly like a tourist, listening to the sounds,
peeking thru windows, and digging on the smells of food cooking.
(Check out tiny 10 Old Chinatown Ln across Washington from Spofford St.)
Juanita Lee was @ 10 Old Chinatown Ln. Gone.
Another great tourist spot is San Francisco's Chinatown. We new we had to give this a go, we were hungry again.
There are hundreds of places to eat here, and so many great shops to buy bit's and bob's to take home, cheaply, well cheapish, compared to elsewhere in the City.
We spent all evening here, bobbing in an out of all the shops, and we bought an item that was 1/10th the price of the same item being sold in a shop on the Pacific Coast Highway, and it was the same item, for sure.
Anyway, like I said, we were hungry, and we wanted Dim Sum, so we called into a large restaurant and ordered a huge selection of Dim Sum, and they were great.
Well worth spending time in Chinatown.