San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide to Its History and Architecture
Philip P. Choy
"A stunning new guidebook. . . History buffs will be amazed by the wealth of lore, legend and radiant fact."—San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chinatown is the first "insider's guide" to one of America's most celebrated ethnic enclaves by an author born and raised there. Both a history of America's oldest Chinese community and a guide to its significant sites and architecture, San Francisco Chinatown traces the development of the neighborhood from the city's earliest days to its post-quake transformation into an "oriental" tourist attraction as a pragmatic means of survival. Written by architect and Chinese American studies pioneer Philip P. Choy, and featuring photographs and walking tours, the book details the triumphs and tragedies of the Chinese American experience in the United States.
on the mayor to build a playground in the community. Though the mayor promised to take the matter into consideration, nothing happened until six years later, when a playground was built on the present site. The playground featured not only Chinatown’s first swing sets and slides but also a tennis court, a volleyball court, and a non-regulation-size basketball court. A small field house was built with a pseudo-Chinese design. The first director of the playground was Oliver Chang, descendant of
same location. The interaction between Chinatown and the community at large has not always been one of mutual understanding. Caught in the struggle between the white laboring class fighting for better working conditions and the industrial capitalists seeking to maintain the status quo, the Chinese became scapegoats for the growing pains of the American labor movement in the West. Sinophobia in the 19th century echoed into the 20th century with the cry “The Chinese must go!” The question of
several thousand incandescent lightbulbs. Sing Chong. Sing Fat. Sing Chong, established in 1875, and Sing Fat, established in 1864, were major “Oriental” art stores. Both buildings were designed to accommodate grandiose displays, including large windows on the second floor to display fine porcelain and other works of art. On the ground floors, the innovation of large showroom windows was made possible through the use of steel beams, introduced by the construction of the Eiffel Tower during the
Street to Broadway The northern end of Jackson Street to Broadway on Dupont (Grant) developed into a busy market-place for Western-style groceries and meat, inter-mingled with old world traditions of live fish and poultry. After the ’06 quake, the markets on “Fish Alley” had relocated here. These markets not only served the Chinese but also attracted the Italian housewives from adjacent North Beach who, like the Chinese themselves, demanded hand-selected merchandise, killed and dressed before
prostitution. A home on Joice Alley rented to house the girls quickly grew overcrowded. In 1877, the building on 933 Sacramento Street was purchased and organized as the Women’s Occidental Board of Foreign Missions, with Margaret Culbertson as director. In 1893, a new building known as Culbertson Hall was erected on 920 Sacramento Street. The brick building was capped by a gabled roof with a domed turret at the southeast corner. Heavy windowsills and lintels accented the brick surfaces.