As a guest at Tilden Hotel, you’re poised to take in all that Downtown San Francisco has to offer. That includes one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods—indeed, one of the most famous neighborhoods of any American urban center: Chinatown, the largest Chinese enclave anywhere in the world outside of Asia and the “original” of its kind in the U.S.
Occupying more than 20 Downtown blocks centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, Chinatown is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Bay Area as well as a living and vibrant community with a long and dramatic backstory. Without question it’s one of the best places anywhere to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year: The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival & Parade in Chinatown, which will take place on Saturday, February 8th, is the biggest outside of Asia, and includes such eye-popping highlights as the nearly 300-foot-long Golden Dragon, steered by more than 180 members of the White Crane martial arts group.
A Snapshot History of San Francisco’s Chinatown
Chinese immigrants began coming to America in the mid-19th century as their homeland reeled in the wake of the first Opium War, major natural disasters, and other turmoil. San Francisco was a gateway to work in the Gold Rush mines of Northern California and on the Transcontinental Railroad. Meanwhile, Chinese entrepreneurs opened laundries, restaurants, and other businesses around what was then the heart of the city, Portsmouth Square. This neighborhood was already being referred to as “Chinatown” by the early 1850s.
California’s Chinese-Americans were on the receiving end of much racial prejudice and discrimination, some of it stemming from a growing fear that immigrants were taking jobs away from white Americans. Such ugly sentiment led to such anti-immigration legislation as the Page Act of 1875 and the even more restrictive Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
The cohesion of Chinatown reflected the self-sufficiency and resilience of the Chinese-American community in the face of these challenges. Another existential threat came with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which destroyed Chinatown; despite some efforts by the city to have the enclave relocated, it was rebuilt in its original location, another expression of the community’s vitality. The loss of many official documents in the natural disaster also resulted in many residents of Chinatown being able to claim U.S. citizenship.
Chinatown continued to grow and evolve, through such milestones as the 1943 repeal (by President Franklin D. Roosevelt) of the Chinese Exclusion Act. For decades, its arresting architecture and lively shops, eateries, and markets have drawn visitors from all across the country and the world.
Visit Chinatown on a Tilden Hotel Getaway
Any time of year, Chinatown delivers some of the best and most celebrated shopping and dining in San Francisco, plus all-around sightseeing. Such landmarks as Portsmouth Square and the Dragon Gate are classic photo ops, and meanwhile you’ll be rewarded for dropping by such institutions as the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (750 Kearny St.) and the Chinese Historical Society of America (965 Clay St.).
Now’s the time, meanwhile, to lock down your boutique accommodations at Tilden Hotel for the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival & Parade, one of the must-experience annual events in San Francisco!
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