Established in 1848, San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and second largest Chinese-American community in the United States (after New York City). Chinatown is the densest neighborhood in the city, and has retained its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. The neighborhood continues to play an integral role in shaping the Chinese-American experience; serving as the gateway for immigrants to find work, learn English, receive social services, and participate in community activities.
Chinatown is multi-faceted: Stockton Street as Chinatown’s marketplace serves the local community; Grant Avenue, with its various souvenir shops, is the top tourist destination; and Kearny Street is the neighborhood’s vehicular gateway. The neighborhood offers affordable goods and services and a variety of authentic restaurants, herbal and souvenir shops, fish markets, and vegetable stands. The festivals, temples, renowned Dragon’s Gate entrance, historical buildings, and alleyways are among Chinatown’s strengths and attractions. The neighborhood also features a large network of longstanding family associations, arts, culture, and community-based organizations that offer a range of social services and resources to support and promote the history and culture of Chinatown.
Located in downtown San Francisco, Chinatown covers 24 square blocks and overlaps with five different postal codes. Sales tax captured in the district grew by 21% between 2006 and 2012, compared with 17% growth Citywide over the same period. Chinatown has a very low vacancy rate (less than 4% as of spring 2013); several of the existing vacancies are larger commercial spaces.
As of 2014, customized services for Chinatown include the following:
- The Shop Chinatown 888 campaign, launched for the 2013 holiday season, promotes the neighborhood through a raffle (80 businesses participated and over 1500 tickets were purchased!) and other activities.
- 60 small businesses in Chinatown have been assisted through the ADA Program.
- An Invest in Neighborhoods grant was awarded for Stockton Street sidewalk cleaning.
- SF Shines facade improvement grants have assisted Little Paris on Stockton Street and Grant Place on Washington Street.
- The Stockton Street Pilot Project aims to improve the pedestrian environment in the neighborhood.