Chapter 4. Chinatown


A view of Chinatown taken on a clear fall afternoon. Taken at ISO 200, f/4, 1/1250 second with a 70–200mm lens.

Why It's Worth a Photograph

San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia. Established in the mid-1840s, it is a center of Chinese culture and activity in North America. A city within a city, it has many venues for the arts, film, music, and literature. A tightly packed neighborhood that continues to grow, Chinatown offers visitors and residents hundreds of restaurants, booming fruit and fish markets, and shops of knickknacks and sweets on torturously narrow and overcrowded streets. Unlike many other mixed-Asian communities today, San Francisco's Chinatown retains its Chinese ethnic identity even after 160 years, and it is the largest Chinese community of its kind in the United States. The Asian-inspired architecture, food and souvenir markets, and wonderful colors are just a few of the things you can photograph. It is truly a street photographer's dream.

Where Can I Get the Best Shot?

There is one main street and two cross streets where you can photograph Chinatown. Grant Avenue at Bush Street is the primary entrance to Chinatown (see A on the map), and Grant Avenue at Sacramento Street (see B on the map) runs right in the heart of Chinatown and is a good place to capture many ...

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