Chinatown has “been there, done that”

Fear of the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused anxiety in people all over the world and San Francisco is no exemption. As of this writing, the Grand Princess cruise ship heading for San Francisco with thousands of passengers on board has been circling in the Pacific Ocean for days while officials decide on when and where to let the ship dock because 21 people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus and one passenger has died. I’ve been hearing reports of an alarming drop in tourism in San Francisco since the crises started. I myself have been developing a psychological disorder that I call incometaxitis that usually clears up after April 15th, so I decided to get out of the office for a few hours today and go over to Chinatown to visit its deserted and quiet streets. I’m happy to say that “reports of (Chinatown’s) death have been greatly exaggerated”. There were just as many visitors as usual for early March, in fact, even more of a crowd today because of some type of festival going on with dragons and lots of fireworks that I caught the end of. I was thinking about another plague while I was there today, the San Francisco bubonic plague of 1900-1904 that quarantined Chinatown and caused 119 deaths. Although no origin of the plague has ever been established, it’s thought that the virus was carried to Chinatown from rats on board ships that had arrived from Asia, Chinatown was actually roped off for a time at California, Kearny, Broadway, and Stockton Streets to prevent people from leaving. These are a few then and nows I took on today’s visit along with a few pictures from Chinatown I’ve posted in the past. (Source of the San Francisco plague information, Wikipedia)

6A cable car heading up Powell Street in the 1950’s: (The Charles Cushman Collection)

CTownFestivaluseAs I mentioned there was a noisy and fun-to-watch festival happening on Grant Avenue at Jackson Street when I got there.

CTownJacksonuseGrant Avenue and Jackson Street in the early 1960s: It was in an old hotel at this intersection that the first victim of the 1900 plague died. (The San Francisco Pictures Blog)

3Grant Avenue and California Street looking north in the 1940s:

CTownCalifuseLooking southeast on Grant Avenue and California Street at passengers boarding a cable car in the 1950s: (The San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CTownGrantuseThe old Shanghai Low Restaurant on Grant Ave between California and Pine Streets in the 1960s: (The San Francisco Pictures Blog)

CtownSactouseGrant Avenue looking north as it approaches Sacramento Street in the 1960s: (The San Francisco Pictures Blog)

1The Chinese New Year Parade on Grant Avenue at Sacramento Street in the 1940s and the last time I attended the parade in 2017. It was reported that the crowd of parade watchers was considerably lower in February of 2020. I didn’t go this year, either; not because of the coronavirus, but because I’ve “been there, done that” too.












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