Upon walking into Chinatown, visitors are immediately overwhelmed by a feeling of ecstasy, adventure, and culture. There is no other place in the world so far away from another yet such an amazing, smaller version of it (San Francisco’s Chinatown is, in fact, the oldest and largest, outside of China itself).
But it was not always like this. The Chinese, and other people who were of Asian descent, were once segregated from Caucasians. There were schools and churches especially made for the Chinese, and there was even a law that prohibited them from becoming naturalized citizens in America.
But, in the early- to mid-1900s, there was an explosion of the happy culture everyone loves in Chinatown. In 1916, the Chinatown YWCA was created. In 1921, the Chinatown Public Library opened up. In 1927, the Chinatown Playground was built. Then, in 1940, there was an English-Language newspaper created for the Chinatown section of San Francisco. There was even a Miss Teen Chinatown Pageant in 1966! Throughout the mid- to late-1900s, several laws were also passed, such as the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act in 1943, that granted the Chinese the same rights as all other naturalized U.S. citizens.
While this amazingly similar-to-the-real-thing neighborhood fills its visitors with a sense of the exotic, or with nostalgia, perhaps it is also what sets it apart from China proper that causes guests to fall in love. It takes the beauty of Chinese tradition and puts an American spin on it. You can find Dim Sum and Chinese bakeries, but you can also find a Bank of America!
Chinatown also hosts large events during holidays such as Chinese New Year. Stop by the parade to watch floats, marching bands, lion dancers, acrobats, firecrackers, to see Miss Chinatown USA, and to feast your eyes on the Golden Dragon!
So, if you thought the only place you could go to get the full Chinese experience was the actual country, you were wrong! You can go right over to San Francisco to dine on Dim Sum, watch dragons parade down the street, and learn about how Chinatown came to be. If you haven’t gotten the chance, find a chance, and visit the legendary Chinatown of San Francisco!
By Kyla Giffin
Kyla attends Livermore High School and has lived in the SF Bay Area her whole life. To her, the best parts about San Francisco are Pier 39, the de Young Museum of Fine Art, and the Giants. Her ultimate passion is writing, and she dreams of going to Stanford Universityor Johns Hopkins University and becoming an English professor. She is currently a contributing writer for The Mindful Word in addition to The Culture Trip. You can also find her on LinkedIn and on Google Plus.