Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest and second largest Chinatown in North America.

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The official entrance to Chinatown is the Dragon Gate at the intersection of Bush and Grant Streets. A competition was held to design the gate, which was won by architect Clayton Lee, and landscape architects Melvin H. Lee and Joseph Yee. The materials were donated by the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1969.

Chinatown is home to kitschy souvenir shops, antique dealers, art galleries, bakeries, authentic markets and restaurants. Its busy streets and alleyways are decorated with red lanterns, flags, and ornate Chinese-style decorations.

To learn more about Chinatown it is worth visit the Chinese Culture Center, a non-profit organisation, which was formed in 1965.

Chinatown consists of around 24 square blocks, it is bordered by Kearny, Broadway, Powell and Bush Streets.

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Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (750 Kearny Street)

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Eastern Bakery (720 Grant Street)

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Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (56 Ross Alley)

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Old Chinese Telephone Exchange (743 Washington Street)

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First Chinese Baptist Church (15 Waverly Place)

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Yee Fung Family Association Headquarters (131 Waverly Pl)

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Wong Family Benevolent Association (39 Waverly Place)

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Soo Yuen Benevolent Association (806 Clay Street)

Chinatown Vancouver

Chinatown in Vancouver is the largest Chinatown in Canada, and the third largest in North America, after New York City and San Francisco.

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The Millennium Gate at Chinatown’s entrance

Chinatown covers six blocks, bordered by East Pender Street, Gore Avenue, East Georgia Street, and Carrall Street.

Chinatown, which was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011, was established back in the 1890s. Chinese people immigrated to Vancouver to work in the mines and build the Trans-Canada railway.

The Millennium Gate / China Gate on Pender Street, which welcomes visitors to Chinatown was donated by the government of the People’s Republic of China following the Vancover Expo 86, where it was on display. The gate was renovated in 2005.

A highlight is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park. Click here to read my blog post about this classical Chinese ‘scholars’ garden – the first one built outside of China.

I arrived in Chinatown with my parents quite late in the afternoon so after looking around the Chinese garden majority of the shops were closed. We chose to have dinner at New Town Bakery and Restaurant (148 East Pender Street). After dinner we tried one of their award-winning apple tarts.

Chinatown is full of rich history, architecture, colour, and flavour – well worth a visit.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

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Apple Tart at New Town Bakery & Restaurant

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a Chinese garden located in the Chinatown district of Vancouver.

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The garden is based on the garden homes of Ming Dynasty scholars and officials. It is the first Chinese ‘scholars’ garden built outside of China.

It was built by 52 Chinese craftsman between 1985 – 1986 using mainly material imported from China. The garden opened on 24th April 1986 ahead of the Vancouver 1986 World Expo.

The park is named after Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who was the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.

The opening hours of garden vary throughout the year, so check the website for current hours and admission prices. Note the garden is closed on Mondays from November 1 to April 30.

It is worth taking the 45 minute guided tour, which is included in the entry ticket. Check their website for timings. A tour guide will point out the significance and history of various elements in the garden, explaining Chinese philosophy, including ideas of Taoism, Feng Shui, and the balance of ying and yang.

The garden is located at 578 Carrall Street (between Pender and Keefer Streets).

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park located next door is a freely accessible public park. It is not as beautiful as the Chinese gardens but a good alternative if you wish to save time or money.

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