Chinatown : San Francisco Neighborhoods

Chinatown/Grant Avenue

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Now: A dichotomy of authenticity and artifice, Chinatown's open gate at Grant and Bush (donated by China in 1969) hosts floods of tourists walking from Union Square to North Beach. Grant Street is packed with eight blocks of plastic and silk, some Chinese, some not, all part of the show. Stockton Street is the "behind the scenes" parallel neighbor to Grant, where Chinese residents shop. Alleys and sidestreets show ornate facades and balconies.

Then: The Mexican seaport village of Yerba Buena was here in the early 1800s, and the stretch of Grant Street (then called Calle de al Fundacion) between what is now Washington and Clay was laid down in 1835 (making it San Francisco's oldest street). Immigrants from China (fleeing oppression) began arriving in 1848 (one year prior to Gold Rush). Residents struggled for integration throughout late 1800s. The area was gradually sculpted into its present destination for visitors after 1906. See related postcards.

How To Get There: If you had a quarter for every tourist who asked someone in Union Square how to get to Chinatown, you would have a lot money. It's right around the corner. Stockton Street borders Union Square on the east. Grant is one more block east. Follow Grant two blocks north, and enter the gate at Bush Street. The California Street Cable Car does also cross through, although if you're coming from the Ferry Building, it will be $5 per person for a very short one-way ride. And FYI if you've never visited, "driving to Chinatown" is not something you want to try.


  • Chinatown Gate at Grant and Bush Street

  • Grant Avenue near Bush

  • Merchandise at Chinatown shop on Grant Avenue

  • Grant at Pine Street

  • Grant at Pacific Avenue

  • Grant Avenue at Jackson, Chinatown

  • Grant Avenue at Commercial Street

  • Golden Gate Bakery on Grant Avenue

  • St. Mary's Square, off Grant Avenue between Pine and California

  • Far East Flea Market on Grant Avenue

  • Inside Chinatown shop

  • Sacramento Street crossing Grant Avenue

  • Entrance to Waverly Place, at Sacramento Street near Grant Avenue

  • Waverly Place, just past Sacramento Street

  • Buildings on the west side of Waverly Place

  • Buildings on Waverly Place

  • Waverly Place, just past Clay Street

  • Decorative buildings on Waverly Place

  • Waverly Place, looking toward Washington Street

  • The end of Waverly Place, at Washington Street

  • Buildings on Washington Street between Waverly Place and Ross Alley

  • Entrance to Ross Alley, at Washington Street, just west of Waverly Place and Grant Avenue

  • Ross Alley, between Washington and Jackson Streets

  • Clothes hanging from a balcony on Ross Alley

  • Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley, off Grant between Washington and Jackson

  • Inside Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley

  • Jackson Street, off Grant Avenue

  • Items for sale inside a shop on Grant Avenue in Chinatown

  • China Bazaar, at the corner of Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street

  • Light pole on Grant Avenue in Chinatown

  • Grant Avenue, between Jackson and Washington Streets

  • Intersection of Washington Street and Grant Avenue

  • Washington Street, looking east between Grant Avenue and Kearny Street

  • Portsmouth Square Park, from Washington Street near Kearny Street

  • Entrance to Portsmouth Square at Washington Street

  • Portsmouth Square, off Kearny between Clay and Washington

  • The Hilton Hotel on Kearny Street at Washington

  • Grocery on Stockton Street, Chinatown

  • Shop on Stockton Street, Chinatown

  • Jackson Street at Stockton Street in Chinatown

  • Stockton Street at Jackson Street, west of Grant Avenue in Chinatown

  • 30-Stockton Bus on Stockton Street in Chinatown