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"Chinatown" Chinatown Tip by zChris

Chinatown, San Francisco: 182 reviews and 336 photos

by zChris

In the United States' most Asian city, Chinatown is of course a must-see. Unfortunately, Grant Avenue, long the main street of the neighbourhood, has begun to resemble a tourists' playground, with nothing but mock Chinese architecture and lampposts, as well as T-shirt shops and other amusements. For an effective visit to Chinatown, of course see Grant, but use it only as a spine to branch off to other areas. I recommend entering through the Chinatown Gate at Grant and Bush, a rather nondescrepit landmark compard to the other Chinatown gates I've seen, but noteworthy in its role as the official entrance to the US' largest Chinatown. At the corner of Grant and California is Old St. Mary's Cathedral, the first Catholic church in San Francisco. Then head up Grant to Sacramento and make a left onto <b>Waverly Lane</b>, filled with fanciful and colourful residnces with balconies. At the head of Waverly, make a right on Clay Street and head downhill to <b>Portsmouth Plaza</b>. This is the central square of the neighbourhood, and is host to the Chinese Cultural Center. Portsmouth Plaza was the original central plaza of the village of Yerba Buena during the time California was under Mexican rule. In fact, the area of what is now Chinatown is the historic centre of San Francisco. Grant Street was known as Calle de la Funacion (Foundation Street) and was the main street of the village. In 1845, during the height of the Mexican-American War, Captain John C. Fremont of the ship Portsmouth sailed into San Francisco Bay and sent a shore party to raise the American flag in the plaza, formally acquiring the region for the United States. Therefore, today the plaza is named in the ship's honour. The place is usually filled with elderly Chinese playing checkers. The best things about the plaza are the public restrooms. Continuing on, head back to Grant Avenue and up Washington to Stockton Street, the heart of 'real' Chinatown. There are far more locals than tourists here, and the atmosphere is more authentic by far.

Address: Grant Ave. and Bush St. San Francisco, CA 94101
Directions: Ornamental Gate
Phone: +1 888-212-3203

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 16, 2003
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