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TO CHINATOWN, WITH LOVE

When stepping into San Francisco’s Chinatown, you step into a world of vibrant colors, sounds, sights, and smells that will immediately whisk you around the globe. While there are several distinct Chinese neighborhoods in San Francisco, the oldest and largest Chinatown lies in the heart of downtown. Deeply involved with the development and social programs of the neighborhood, Victor is a proud advocate of Chinatown's history, cultural centers, and is a frequent collaborator with the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco and the Chinese Historical Society of America

  Chinatown, San Francisco, California, ca 1895 From the  Wilhelm Hester Photographs Collection

Chinatown, San Francisco, California, ca 1895
From the Wilhelm Hester Photographs Collection

The Story of San Francisco

Thousands of tourists flock through its streets every day; its curio shops, all-night restaurants and crowded alleys have been celebrated from Broadway to Hollywood. But few people know the human drama and history that are hidden in the streets and faces of San Francisco's Chinatown. Chinatown was a one-hour documentary by PBS Wednesday in 1997. It tells the neighborhood's story from the point of view of those who have lived their lives there. 

More on Chinatown's History

 Rebeca Anchondo/Flickr

Rebeca Anchondo/Flickr

TIMEOUT's Chinatown Attactions

San Francisco’s is the oldest in the US—being the first site of large-scale migration from the Pearl River Delta in the 1800s—and the history of the city, the state of California and the country itself are closely interwoven with the neighborhood. Present-day Chinatown is a square mile in the center of the city boasting a diverse mix of housing, temples, shops, markets, bakeries and more serving the local Chinese community—including some of the best things to do in San Francisco. And while eating at the best Chinese restaurants and shopping for hours are undoubtedly part of the draw and experience of the place, consumption isn’t the only reason to visit; crowded, chaotic and compact, Chinatown contains some impressive historic sites and is undoubtedly one of the most densely packed cultural areas in the city. (timeout.com)

 © Thomas J. Story / Sunset

© Thomas J. Story / Sunset

In Case You Missed It: Great China Herb Co.

Feeling lethargic? Let the in-house doctor prescribe you revitalizing teas and tonics prepared with dry herbs at this long-respected Chinese apothecary. 

857 Washington Street
415/982-2195.

 © Thomas J. Story / Sunset

© Thomas J. Story / Sunset

In Case You Missed It: Tin How Temple

Go back in time in the century-old Buddhist temple, housed in a four-level apartment building, where locals pray, burn incense, and get their fortunes read. 

125 Waverly Place
Donation suggested

 © Michael Macor / The San Francisco Chronicle

© Michael Macor / The San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle's Guide to Chinatown

The reality of Chinatown is that there are two Chinatowns: One belongs to the locals, the other charms the tourists. They overlap and dance with each other, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. Why the popularity? Because visitors expect something they won't find anywhere else. They expect to be stunned and enchanted and stuffed with great food. And they will.