San Francisco is a world-class city that never sleeps and Chinatown is a small but lively segment of the Bay Area metropolis. On the way to Chinatown, people pass through an area called the Tenderloin, the home of various quirky and colorful characters. Tourists can find 30 blocks of historic Chinese American history in Chinatown. Elderly seniors who live in Chinatown can be found exercising Tai Chi in Portsmouth Square. Chinese residents can also be found sitting on flattened cardboard boxes and gambling/playing cards on a makeshift table fashioned out of a crate.

A recognizable landscape from this distinctive urban ethnic enclave is the pedestrian bridge leading to the Chinese Cultural Center. Upon further advancement into Chinatown, a line of grocery stores and markets can be found on Stockton Street. The produce found in these small mom-and-pop enterprises are traditional Chinese vegetables, meat, and herbal medicines. The clientele of these family-owned businesses include Chinatown residents and visiting Chinese American families from the suburbs. The streets are overrun with a multitude of people and the overlapping dialects of Cantonese and English are distorted into noisy cacophony. Noodle houses and restaurants cover every block and a multitude of these barbeque joints feature crispy roast meats hanging behind the glass windows. Street vendors claim their plot of land on the sidewalk and sell pieces of jade, red envelopes and other items. Here, tourists can easily find cheap comfort food and cheap beer in various taverns. Chinatown claims a long and storied past that can be revisited by the thousands of tourists the town welcomes each year.

By: Amber Kong



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