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Evolution of The Chinatown

Posted by GrayLineofSanFrancisco on July 27, 2020

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The history of San Francisco goes hand in hand with the evolution of Chinatown. The origins of Chinatown go back to the “Gold Rush” era, starting in 1848 and ending 1855. Since its inception to the present Chinatown is a must-see district in San Francisco.

Growing hostilities, towards the Chinese increased between the 1870’s – 1880’s. This resulted in the Chinese Community withdrawing into an area between the streets of California, Stockton, Broadway, and Kearny Streets, the original Chinatown, and predecessor of today’s much larger Chinatown.

The Chinese community flourished and created what was known as “The City within the City.” As this community developed, they separated themselves by creating their own banks, hospitals, social establishments, schools, social services etc. It did not take long before the Chinese community flourished within Chinatown. After the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed immigration records, many Chinese smartly claimed citizenship and were able to bring their families over from China.

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The “Dragon Gates” is a main entrance point on Grant Avenue @ Bush Street. This passageway caters to the tourist guests. Street lined curio shops packed with trinkets and souvenirs for travelers to barter and purchase. The hustle and bustle of activity is not contained on the packed sidewalks. Pedestrians looking for the next bargain spill out onto Grant Avenue, motorists beware this is no time to be texting.

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During the day or in the evening, visitors are amazed by the chinoiserie pagoda architecture and the colorful paper lanterns strung from one side of Grant Avenue to the other.

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Celebrating Chinese New Year, the iconic Dragon parading through this historic district is spectacular to witness.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is said to be the oldest and largest Chinese community outside of China. Whether that is indeed true or not is unimportant. The rich history and unparalleled commitment to the community is what sets San Francisco’s Chinatown apart. To this day, traditions old and new are actively being lived and honored. When in San Francisco one must treat themselves to a visit to Chinatown.

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