I always like to wander through the Chinatown area of large cities, enjoying the vibrancy, the bright colours and, of course, the food. So the Chinatown in San Francisco was not to be missed; this is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in the US.
The Chinatown Alleys
One of the most famous parts of San Francisco Chinatown is the Alleys – a maze of more than 40 tiny paths and alleyways. These date back to the late 19th century when the Chinese population of the city was growing but local laws prevented them from building outside of their allotted area. So they made extra room by building upwards and by squeezing new passages between the existing roads.
Today the alleys are home to all manner of small businesses
including hairdressers, massage parlours and fortunetellers. We heard the
sounds of industry coming from tiny workshops and stopped to listen to buskers
on the street corners.
|Paths and alleyways run between the main roads|
In the past Chinatown has suffered from poverty, overcrowding, plague and earthquake. But it has been extensively rebuilt and is now one of San Francisco’s main tourist attractions. The whole area covers 22 blocks, which means that you could spend the whole day exploring.
After we left the alleyways we walked for a while along the
main roads which were festooned with banners and red lanterns and full of places
to buy jewellery, jade and statues of Buddha. However, this is very much a
place where people live, so you could also find shops selling just about anything
you might need.
|The streets are festooned with red lanterns|
|...but it is also a residential area|
|Traditional food at the Pot Sticker Restaurant|
|A colourful mural on the side of a building|
|The Dragon Gate at the entrance to Grant Street|