San Francisco's Chinatown: An Asian island in America

Food display window in San Francisco's Chinatown
Food display window in San Francisco's Chinatown

Dating back to the 1850s, Chinatown, San Francisco is the oldest such district in North America and the largest outside of Asia. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1848, predating the California gold rush.

Where at first the Chinese faced exclusion in California and the rest of America -- their children were barred from public schools and their employment and housing opportunities diminished by targeted legislation -- they persevered and created a thriving haven of inclusion and cultural celebration. The sights, sounds, and aromas of present day Chinatown stir the soul, whether drawn in collectively as a sort of cultural potpourri or observed one lively detail at a time.

What to do in Chinatown today? The enticing aromas of authentic Chinese cuisine may give you one tasty idea. The bright displays of clothing and souvenirs in shop windows provide yet another popular option. And don't forget the markets burgeoning with exotic fruits and vegetables to purchase and enjoy on your walk back to an area hotel such as the Orchard Hotel, only two blocks away.

- Heather Dugan of Footsteps

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