San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the most famous
neighborhoods in America and is just steps from the King George Hotel! As the
largest Chinese community outside of Asia, Chinatown SF dates back to the
middle of the nineteenth century. The history of Chinatown in San Francisco
starts with arrival of thousands of Chinese at the dawn of the California Gold
Rush in 1848. Many of these immigrants went on to help build the
transcontinental railroad. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, the
neighborhood was almost completely destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. After the
disaster, local businessmen sought to expand the financial district and move
the Chinese residents to another part of the city. But the community banded
together and saw the completion of the landmark Sing Chong and Sing Fat
buildings that signified the residents’ commitment to stay in the area.
The Bank of Canton, formerly the Chinese Telephone
Exchange, has also become an iconic landmark. The structure closed when
switchboards gave way to more “modern” rotary phones. The Bank of Canton bought
the restored the building in 1960. Today the neighborhood is a wonderful place
for souvenir shopping and sight seeing. Several organizations offer walking
tours, including All About Chinatown and Wok Wiz. Explore Chinatown’s famous
alleys, houses of worship, and of course shops and restaurants. It’s no
surprise that you’ll find the best Chinese food in this iconic neighborhood.
The neighborhood hosts events such as film festivals, street celebrations, and
art exhibits all throughout held throughout the year.